Methodist Church Nigeria started 170 years ago through the missionary activities of Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman. On September 24, 1842, Birch Freeman accompanied by two devoted African workers, Mr. and Mrs. Williams De-Graft Johnson, arrived Badagry from Gold Coast present day Ghana. According to history, Methodism is the first Christian Mission in Nigeria.
The work in Western Nigeria was pioneered by the Wesleyan Methodist Mission while the Primitive Methodist Mission pioneered missionary activities in the Eastern Nigeria in December 1893. Among the pioneers in the Eastern Region were Rev. C. Fairley and Rev. Ben Showell. The two missions worked in their respective regions until 1932 when they were amalgamated and formed the present day Methodist Church Nigeria. Although at this point they operated as two Districts of Methodism – the Western and the Eastern District under the direction of the Methodist Church Britain. On September 28, 1962, Methodist Church Nigeria became autonomous from the British Methodist Conference with its corporate headquarters at Wesley House, 21/22 Marina, Lagos.
The Late Rev. Dr. J. O. E. Soremekun became the first elected President followed by Late Rev. N. O. Salako. He died before the end of his tenure. Rev. N. O. Salako’s tenure coincided with the Civil War period. Rev. Prof. Bolaji Idowu took over from Rev. N. O. Salako on October 4, 1972. The tenure of Rev. Prof. Bolaji Idowu witnessed the flowering of Methodist Church Nigeria. Rev. Prof. Bolaji Idowu moved the Church from its Foundation Constitution to the adoption of Episcopacy. In 1976, the church adopted a new constitution which gave birth to the present day Episcopal system of the Church. The leader of the Church in the 1976 constitution became known as Patriarch and addressed as His Pre-Eminence.
Shortly after the adoption of Episcopacy, some section of the Church became dissatisfied with the new constitution. This led to schism which lasted about 14 years. During this period, Patriarch Bolaji Idowu retired and His Pre-Eminence, Sunday C. Mbang was elected as Patriarch in 1984. His Pre-Eminence Mbang worked assiduously to resolve the crisis. Between late 1989 and 1990, His Eminence, Mbang convened series of meetings and Conferences of Methodist people to fashion a solution to the crisis. To the glory of God, the crisis came to an end in 1990 when a new Constitution was ratified on May 24, 1990 during a Unification Service at Hoare’s Memorial Methodist Cathedral, Yaba.
In the 1990 Constitution, the Church adopted the title Prelate for her leader. Since the unification of the Church, Methodist Church Nigeria has remained one of the formidable religious organisations in the country. In 2006, His Eminence Sunday C. Mbang handed over the mantle of leadership of the Church to the present Prelate, His Eminence Dr. Sunday Ola. Makinde. The assumption of His Eminence, Dr. Sunday Ola. Makinde into office coincided with the adoption of a new constitution in 2006. From a humble beginning, Methodist Church Nigeria has spread across the length and breadth of this country. At the moment the Church has 67 Dioceses and 11 Archdioceses.
Methodist Church Nigeria is known by her reputation in establishing Colleges, Teachers Training Institutions, Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Centers, Community Mental Health Programme among many others social and human service projects and programmes. Methodist Church Nigeria recently established Wesley University of Science and Technology, Ondo (WUSTO), Ondo State, Nigeria. The first set of students of the University shall graduate in 2012. Famous among other established Institutions include: The Leprosy Centre, Uzuakoli, Amaudo Centre for Mentally Ill Destitute.
In accordance with Methodist Church Nigeria Constitution, all properties are vested on the Registered Trustees of the Church. Presently, the Church is led by the Prelate, the Secretary of Conference who also by virtue of his office is the Secretary of the Board of Registered Trustees, Bishops’ Council and Conference Connexional Council.
The Registered Trustee members are as follows:
- His Eminence Dr. Samuel C. K. Uche – Prelate
- His Eminence Sunday Ola. Makinde – Prelate Emeritus
- His Eminence Sunday Mbang – Prelate Emeritus
- Sir Jimmy Nath Coker – Member
- Most Rev. L. S. Ayo Ladigbolu (Rtd) – Member
- Most Rev. J. Oche Job – Member
- Most Rev. M. U. Ogo(Rtd) – Member
- Most Rev. M. Kehinde Stephen – Member
- Sir Remi Omotoso – Member
- Sir Sunday U. Akpan – Member
- Sir Tunde Adeniran – Member
- Helen Adoga – Member
- Dame Helen Olufolake Adewusi – Member
- Ezinne Felicia Orjison – Member
- Rev. C. Raphael Opoko – Member
- Rev. Dr. Michael O. Akinwale – Secretary of Conference.
STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH
- Local Church:
This is the primary cadre of the Church Structure. It is governed by a body called Local Church Council.
This is made up of at least four local Churches and it is governed by the Quarterly Meeting.
A Diocese is made up of at least four Circuits. It is governed and controlled by the Diocesan Synod. Diocesan Council acts on behalf of Synod in between Synods. Synod is held annually.
Archdiocese comprises of four or more Dioceses. It is governed and regulated Archdiocesan Council
Conference is the highest ruling body of the Church. It is governed by the Conference and or the Conference Connexional Council (C.C.C.) in between two Conferences to be ratified at the next Conference of Methodist Church Nigeria.