Introduction

In our previous discussion we discussed the establishment of an indigenous church in the Sudan. How the SUM organized the churches in Nigeria is precisely what this chapter intend to examine. We shall examine the major inter-mission conferences that discussed the question of church organization how the diversity of perspective, beliefs and practise among the missionaries and desire to preserve their denominational identity conflicted with this institutional unity.

General speaking, the words Church translated from Greek word “Ekklesia” basically means assembly refereeing to the assemblies of the citizen of Greek city state where many decisions were made by democratically elected representatives of legislative and judiciary bodies. In Pauline usage it refers to Christian assemble especially of a local church (1 Cor.14:19). In a universal sense, the word church also refers to all believers Matthew16:18, Eph.1:22 and Col. 1:18). Thus, Church organization in its boarder sense could be define as institutional or denominational church structure including, Church membership, their assembles at local and national level, polity or church government, doctrine, worship, ministry, etc. in its narrow meaning; it refers to organization of Christian converts into church body such as local church council. Both definitions applied to the types of churches, which the SUM established in Nigeria. Firstly, their first village converts were organized into church body in their various spheres at local level. Secondly, they attempted to organize the whole churches into single institutional structure with central authority. We shall examine more closely how the churches were organized at the local and the national level.

The Setting up of TEKAN

EKAS is an abbreviation of the Hausa word “Ekklesiayar Kristi A Sudan” meaning the Church of Christ in the Sudan. This was the named of all the churches established in different parts of Northern Nigeria by the branches of SUM, except the Danish branch which used its denominational name in addition to the name “EKAS”. The churches were known as EKAS or the Church of Christ in their different geographical locations. To understand this, examining a historical overview of the first six churches that formed TEKAS may be illuminative. We already mentioned that after the failure of the first mission work at Wase, the missionaries decide to divide Nigeria between its various branches and restricted the influence of the missionaries to their different spheres where each country which was allotted a sphere in the Sudan was made responsible for the care of the work in it. In other words, each was made an autonomous unite and was responsible for organization, for founding, equipping, sending and maintain their missionaries. Consequently, the missionaries of one nation who are of one Christian denomination developed work along the lines to which they were accustomed to while those who

came from varied denominational background but were made to work in the same sphere had to develop mutual understanding on how to build up the work in their areas. This means that the missionaries who came from the same denominational backgrounds developed and organized the churches along the line of their home denominations, while those who were interdenominational developed and organized interdenominational churches. This is true of the British Branch of SUM whose missionaries who came from Anglican, Plymouth Brethren, Presbyterian, Baptise and Methodist backgrounds. The British missionaries pioneered the first work at Wase in 1904 which in 1909 was destroyed by Muslims. After Wase, the mission concentrated their effort around Wukari, Langtang, Donga, Rumaisha, Kaana, Gyel and Bukuru from where the work spread to Forum and Vom. The first work in these areas was done by interdenominational missionaries while those at Kabwir, Panyam and Gindiri were established by the Cambridge University Missionary Party of the Church Missionary Society. This means that the churches in these areas were developed based on Anglican tradition however, the churches were later transferred to SUM in 1930 and together with those established by SUM, they formed EKAS plateau, meaning the church of Christ in the Plateau with Gindiri as its first headquarters.
Rev. Guinter and Miss, Veenstra, who were among the first inter-denominational missionaries who worked together with the British branch as inter-denominational missionaries later convinced their home churches to developed denominational branches. As already mentioned in the formative history of the mission, Guinter and Veenstra, arrived Nigeria 1906 and 1920 respectively and began work at Ibi which was the first headquarters of the British branch. But in 1916 Guinter opened a new station at Kona. and the work was supported by Women Missionary Society of his home church and the work expanded to Bambur in the Wurkum district where they began actual work in 1923. The work of the British Branch among the Mumunye tribe was handed over to the Evangelical United Brethren in 1946. Thus, the work of the Evangelical Brethren in that region developed as EKAS Muri which today is known as the United Methodist Church with its headquarter at Bambur and it follows Brethren Methodist tradition.

The story of Veenstra is unique. The British Branch in generally had restricted women Missionaries. Kumm the founders of SUM did not accept women, especially single women as missionaries. However, the American Branch did not share this idea. Thus, Veenstra from American Christian Reformed Church was sent as the first woman missionary to joined SUM in the mission filed. Veenstra together with other single women left USA and joined Guinter in Nigeria in 1920. They worked together until 1930 when she joined the work at Lupwe until her death in 1933. For ten years, she headed the work at Lupwe and Takum and she never had men among her missionary co-workers. However, while working as inter-denominational missionary, she managed to convince her denominational church to form its own denominational Christian Reformed Church (1940) of SUM. As a result, Veenstra’s work at Lupwe was later taken over by his home denomination (CRC) and it becomes CRC after her death in 1940. Thus, the work of Veenstra and other missionaries in Eastern Benue province and in the adjacent Southern Sardaun province came to be known as EKAS Benue, with its headquarter at Tukum and it follows a Reformed or Presbyterian tradition. Mr. Edger Smith was assigned permanently at Lupwe in 1931 as CRC missionary until 1934. In 1961, CRC also took over the entire work in Tiv area and moved its headquarter from Lupwe to Mkar because Mkar was near a trunk road and much more accessible. However, the church in Tiv area was established by the South African branch of SUM. The South Africa Branch was formed in 1907. It sent out its first missionaries to joined SUM in the field in 1907. When the missionaries arrived in Nigeria, they were assigned first to work among the Mbula tribe in Northern Region. However, in 1911, they decided to move to Benue region and began work among the Tiv tribe. Many of the South African missionaries belong to the Dutch Reformed Church who speaks Afrikaans and a few of them were English speaking. According to Eugene, the missionaries had wanted to split the Tiv people between themselves but in April 1913, the field council of SUM decided that the Tiv land should be left to the Dutch Reformed church and that the English speaking branch should go elsewhere. Then, in 1916, the DRC decided to pull out of SUM completely because they felt they were not able exert an influence with regard to their doctrines. Unlike other EKAS Churches it is entirely of one tribe church thus, it is known as EKAS Hen TIV or Nongo U Kristu Hen Sudan Hen Tiv (N.K.A.S.T.) and it follows Reformed tradition. However, in 1950, the DRCM gradually handed over its mission to the CRCM which as we already indicated resumed a full responsibility for the Tiv area in 1961. Mr. A.S. Judd and other English-speaking group who were not of the Dutch Reformed Church then went to work among the Mada tribe. They began their work at Kaana and progressed to other areas such as Randa and lafiya. Mr Willima Britian of British Branch was later called to opens school for the chief’s children at Randa and then training medical school at Alushi. The Mada Hill missionaries were said to be specialized in Bible school and in organizing Sunday school but the church established under this group was known as EKAS Mada Hills and it followed interdenominational tradition.

The Danish Lutheran branch of SUM, founded in 1911 sent out their first missionaries, Dr. Bronnum and his wife Margaret to join SUM in the mission field in 1913. When they arrived, Bronnum reopen the South African work in Mbula and chose Numan as his mission headquarters. They started their work among the Bachama tribe in Numan from where the work was extended to other areas such as Shelleng, and Lamurde in 1921, to Pella in 1922, then Dilli in 1929, Gwuyok in 1942, Dungma 1934, Nzoboliyo 1939, Dobola 1942, and Dashen in 1946. The Danish branch of SUM on the mission field “taught the Lutheran doctrine and introduced practises inherited from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.” The church under this branch was known as EKAS Lardin Lutheran. Similarly, the Church of the Brethren whose missionaries were also influenced by Dr. Karl Kumm appeared in the on Nigerian mission field in 1923 as autonomous body and occupied its autonomous mission filed in Northern and Borno province. There was no intention of SUM and CBM joining each other from the beginning however, the Church of the Brethren right from the beginning had increasingly cordial relationship with SUM especially when SUM planed to organized the indigenous church into a united church. CBM right from home had in its mission philosophy that wherever the found a church, that church should be in fellowship with the other indigenous church. Therefore, when SUM began discussion on the formation of united Church of African, the Church of the Brethren Mission developed strong interest and had representative at major inter-mission conferences since 1926. Some years later, it was decided that the churches which had arisen from the work of both mission (SUM and CBM) would be constituted together to form one church and the Church in CBM areas was then known as EKAS Lardin Gabas, meaning the church of Christ in the eastern District. Stove Kulp in his Memo to all Missionaries of C.B.M indicated this when he wrote, “Our church here has an official name, Ekklesiyar Kristi A Sudan, Lardin Gabas. However, it has to be noted that the church Lardin Gabas followed a Church of the Brethren-Mennonites traditions with its first headquarter at Garkida.

As we can see, the first churches established by denominational branches such as the American Reformed Branch, Danish Lutheran branch and the church of the Brethren were denominational in character while the British branch and South African English speaking Branches were interdenominational in character. As the work developed in these areas, changes took place, certain towns became headquarters for the first five autonomous branches of the mission, all of the churches gradually developed along the line of what they missionaries were accustomed to and their church traditions and theology were that of the missionaries that founded them. However, the missionaries had believed that the church founded by its different branches must be organized in the way they can grow to be self-governing, self-propagating and self supporting and they all followed the same principles for establishing and organizing the three self churches in Nigeria. This means that, each of the indigenous church established in every part of the mission sphere was responsible for erecting and up keeping of churches, pay current expensive connected with all building used for church purpose, pay all native pastors, evangelist, support all branches of work needful for the building up of the church and pay for the spread of the Gospel without mission money being used. It was in the light of these that, the missionaries decided that the native church must be taught about agriculture and agricultural tithe so that they could tithe their crops.

This principle was practised mostly at the village level where the first churches were organized. When many converts gathered in any village, the mission would often appoint one of them to be their leader. The leader of the village church would then continue to live as before, working on his farm to support himself and his family. At the district level there were elders appointed to run the whole business of the church and they were responsible for minting purity in the church, receiving and examining complains brought by the members and prescribe church disciple of deviate members. When village leaders get older and could not meet the need of the growing church, they were to be replaced with the younger ones. The qualification for leadership of village church was a previous service as a voluntary worker. If he proved to be committed Christian and church worker, he would then be sent to advance training after which he would come back to serve the church.
note to be continued