A SHORT HISTORY OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH IN DELTA STATE (1948-2014)
Delta Conference is one of the eleven conferences that make up the present Western Nigeria Union conference. The advent message came to the region presently known as Delta State in 1948. At that time, of the receipt of the message, the region was called Mid-West and it covered areas presently known as Delta and Edo states.
The seat of the message during the early days of the evangelical work was the area known then as Warri, an area far bigger than the present day Warri. Between 1948 and 1956, the advent message was carried by the early converts to other cities namely; Ubiaruku, Sapele, Udu, Orogun Ughelli, to mention a few. Owing to the progress made during the period under the leadership and supervision of West Africa Union Mission decided in 1957 to merge the work both Warri and Benin and place it under the leadership and supervision of West Nigeria Mission. The newly organized unit was called Benin District. The work continued and thrived under various pioneers, pastors and other church leaders. By 1977 Benin District was re-organization and called Bendel Mission. It took twenty-five years (1977-2002) for Bendel Mission to metamorphose into Edo-Delta Conference. The decision to re-organize Edo-Delta Conference into two Administrative Units was taken at Edo-Delta Conference mini constituency meeting held on June 19, 2011 in Benin City. December 24, 2011 Delta was organized as an Administrative unit and by December 1, 2011 Delta was inaugurated as conference.
The light of Adventism in what is today known as Delta State started as a small spark in Warri in 1948.The conveyers of Advertise message to Delta State were late pastor E. E. Onumegbu and one unnamed literature Evangelist from the East Nigeria Mission (now East Nigeria union conference).
Pastor Onumegbu and the Literature Evangelist had come to Warri as pioneers their pioneering work involved organizing Bible studies for teacher and students in various secondary schools in Warri. They also distributed tracts and other literature as they labored. In the process of carrying out these studies they meet with the following persons who were the first indigenous converts in today’s Delta Conference.
Late Pastor L.O. Osekete-a teacher in Christ Apostle School, Okere, Warri
Late Elder S.E. Mayiko-a students in United College of commerce, Warri
Elder M. J. Obrimah-a student in United College of commerce.
Pastor Onumegbu and his converts began the aggressive work of spreading the Advent message by every means possible to all the major cities of today’s Delta conference. The first worship service of Warri Church were held in Roland Faka’s living room at 14, Esisi Street, Warri, before the church moved to a thatched hut on a land own by the church. In the process of time, the thatched hut was reconstructed as the Odibo Church building in 1949 Odibo church was the first organized church in Delta.
PROGRESS OUTSIDE WARRI
The first know place outside Warri where the Advent message thrived, leading to the establishment of a branch Sabbath school in 1949 was Ubiaruko. This branch was spear-head by L.O. Osekete who owing to his acceptance of the Advent message was forced to resign his teaching appointment at Christ Apostolic School, Warri and return to his home town, Ubiaruko. At home, without a job and a new faith burning in his heart, L. O. Osekete contacted the voice of prophecy, Ibadan through the assistance of pastor Onumegbu and with material received from VOP Ibadan, Osekete began to study with members of the family, friends and other indigenes of ubiaruku.it was this study group that later became the first organized branch Sabbath school in 1949.late pastor L. O. Osekete was one of the first indigenous pastor, and one of the first to be ordained in 1972.
THE FIELD AS BENDEL MISSION
In 1977, Benin district was recognized into a mission field. Pastor P.C. Chima became the first president. He was a diligent gospel worker with emphasis on evangelism. He opened so many churches and trained lay evangelists. In 1979 Bothers Ephraim Onwere joined him as secretary/treasury while Agwu served as the Publishing Department Director. Pastor P.C. Chima’s tireless work came to an end when he died in 1985. From 1986-1990 Pastor S.O. Gbenedio took up the mantle of leadership of Bendel mission as the President, while Elder M. J. Obrima served as the Secretary/Treasurer. In 1991, Pastor G.C. Nwaogwugwu became the President, while Pastor Okei Okonkwo and Elder Amos Ibhiedu served as secretary Treasurer respectively. In 1994, late Pastor John O. Owolabi became the President; Pastor Okei Okonkwo, Secretary and Elder Ibhiedu Amos, Treasurer. It was during their time the secretariat in Benin City was built. In August, 1998, Pastor J. B. Kio took over the mantle of leadership of Edo-Delta Mission. He and his team; Pastor Okei Okonkwo and Elder Ibhiedu Amos., worked very hard to bring the Mission to a conference status in February, 2002.
THE FIELD AS EDO-DELTA CONFERENCE
After the inauguration of Edo-Delta Mission into a Conference, Pastor Kio and his team continued to pilot the affair of the new Conference until 2005 when Pastor J. E. Umoru was elected as the President, Pastor M. Senne-Aya as secretary, and Elder Amos Ibhiedu as the Treasurer. In February 2011, Pastor M. Senne-Aya, became the conference 7th President while Pastor G. Umhebaita and Elder D. Edafe were elected Secretary and Treasurer respectively.
THE FIELD AS DELTA ADMINISTRATIVE UNIT
On June 19, 2011 at Edo-Delta Executive Committee meeting held at EDC Headquarter Benin City, is voted to adopt the actin of the North western Nigeria Union Mission (NWNUM) Constituency resolution to restructure Edo-Delta conference, into two Conferences. In view of the adoption of the NWNUM resolution to re-organize the conference, the Edo-Delta Conference called a Mini-Constituency on June 26, 2011 at Edo-Delta Conference Headquarter, Benin City, where it was overwhelming voted to re-organize the conference (Edo-Delta) into two Conference on State bases, which is, Edo and Delta.
Following this actions, Delta was organized into Administrative units on December 24, 2011 at Delta Zone Annual Camp Meeting. Pastor Olatunji Olaofe was appointed as the President, Pastor Joshua I. Arebun as the secretary, and Elder Daniel E. Edafe as the treasurer. These officers with the help of God and the support of the entire membership of Delta, worked tirelessly of see that the unit attained a conference status at stipulated time. The work started in a 3-bed room apartment generously donated by Elder and Mrs. F. O. Nwanganga in Ekpan area Warri. The apartment served both as offices and residential lodge for the three officers between January 1 and August21, 2012 when the conference Secretariat was completed.
On August 22, 2012, an inspection team comprising representative of West Central Africa Division North Western Nigeria Union officers came to inspect the unit and gave emphatic pass mark and recommendation for a conference status to Deltas Administrative unit.
THE FIELD AS DELTA CONFERENCE
Delta was formally inaugurated into a conference on December 1, 2012 at a historic constituency session held November 29 to December 1, 2012 at DSC Church, Warri. Pastor Olaofe Olatunji became the pioneer President, Pastor Joshua I. Arebun the Executive Secretary and Elder Daniel Edafe as the Treasurer. Though the challenges have been great, the LORD who never ‘sleeps nor slumbers’ has equally been faithful. To God be the Glory!
ABRAKA: The glow of the message from Ubiaruko got to the areas of Abraka in the early 1950. This is to be expected in the view of the proximity of Abraka to Ubiaruko. However, when Pastor Osekete left the Bible school, the fire appeared to have been extinguished, but by God’s Divine intervention, the late Elder Amanze and Okwuadigbo were to re-ignite the fire of the advent message. They established a worship centre at Pama Rubber Camp, Uroka Abraka. Some of the first indigenous converts in this church was late Moses Luke and Elder Wilson Abovwe. Moses Luke became the first Delta Indigene to be admitted to the Adventist Nursing college, lle-Ife. He also gave the parcel of the land where the church in Ubiaruko is built. The Nigerian civil war disrupted worship at the Uroka Abiaka Church. When the war finally came to an end, God had in place, His hand maiden Mama Akaugbogu, a great woman of God Who had come to Uroka Abraka from Sapele. She gave her house for worship and the message spread from this worship place to Abraka main town in 1986. The worship in Abraka main town was in the residence of Mrs Ogboru. Abraka district currently has one organised church and 166 baptized members.
ASABA: The Church in Asaba like what happened in Warri setup came from the then East Nigerian Mission with headquarters in Aba. The activities of the Church started in 1947 with Mrs Ojogwu and Family. Mrs Betty, Late Elder Ihesiulo, Elder Nwigwe and Family and Elder Johnson and Family. In 1978 the Church was absorbed by the defunct Bendel Mission under the leadership of P.C. Chima. Unfortunately, form 1987-1990, the church suffered massive movement of members from Asaba due to unemployment. This lead to the temporal extinction of the church. But 1991, when Elder Mokweyen relocated from Benin to Asaba, worship was Nwigwe. The pastor to Asaba, worship was resumed in Mrs. Ojogwu’s house. The first set of converts in Asaba include: Late Elder Ojogwu, Late Elder Ihesiulo and Elder Nwigwe. The pastor to Asaba over the years are: Pastors Okei Okonkwo, C. Ogah, B. N. Kalu, D.D. kimia, G. Umhebaita, A. G. E. Emurotu, and B. O. Ibhiedu. Asaba membership still stands at 236.
DSC: The church in DSC started in 1983 with a two week evangelistic program conducted by the then Warri District Leader, Pastor S.O. Gbenedio. The church was formerly called Ovwian Church. The only members who late R. Amurhe and His little brother, joseph. Few months later, Elder R. Idehen who joined. But by this, the few members who joined the church through the two-week evangelism. This effort resulted to the coming together of about twelve young people. Some of these young people were; Sunday Badah, Freedom Badah, Roland Mukoro, Benson, Alade and Henry. E.F. Adeyemi also joined about this time. The church later relocated from Ovwian Primary School to an apartment rented by Warri district AWM for Nusery/ primary School. While in that place of worship, Late Barry Ogwu, Zakari Lawal, Elder Onoruivwe, Pius Biabor and Samuel Ogbor joined the group. By the combined efforts of these members and E.F. Adeyemi, the land where the DSC Church is built was given to the Church by Delta Steel Company. The first Pastor to DSC was Pastor Joshua I. Arebun followed by Pastor Lucky Echebue, Dean Ozakpo and Pastor DSC District has two organized churches and two companies.
EFFURUN: The work in Effurun extended from Warri. It started in Ugborikoko around 1978 by one Godwin Erigwho and Late Mama Aghede’s who is provided the first place of worship in her house. Later, the W. Abovwe, Enemana, I. U. Ndeke, J. Amadi and Dr. J. Adugbo’s families joined. The District was recognised out of Warri District in 1997. Since then, the District has grown steadily until it was recognised into two April 2012. The first pastor of Effurun District is Pastor C. Ogah followed by pastors J. E. Umoru, G. Mokobia, J. I. Arebun, J. Ikhane and again, J. I. Arebun. Effurun has 2 organized churches, 3 companies and 793 baptized members. It has its headquarters at Kodesoh
EKPAN: The district has the same history with Effurun. Ekpan was organized out of Effurun in April, 2012, during Pastor J. Ikhane as Effurun District Pastor. The work started with Elder G. Ogolo and F. Ezenwoke who were going to Odibo from Ogunu every Sabbath for worship. To ease their hardship, the Old Warri district youth under the leadership of Onovae G. decided to conduct evangelism at Ogunu. After the effort, Elders Nwanganga F.O. and Anaba S.I. were sent by Warri district to Ogunu to join the few members there. These families worked very hard, soon, it turned out that the number of people coming from Ekpan area, where the Anabas and Nwangangas resides, were more than those in Ogunu. Consequently, the church decided to relocate to Ekpan. The first Ekpan district Pastor is Pastor Olatunji Olaofe. Ekpan District covers part of Uvwie and Okpe LGAs. It has 2 organized churches, 2 Companies and membership of 406.
GREAT HOPE: (Contact the district pastor or Elder Onovae)
IKA: The Advent message came to Ika in 1978 through late Evangelist Alexander Ebunu. The first meeting was held in one Mrs. Chinukwe Justina’s house who was a textile trader. Some of the first converts were: Agnes Otoya, Francis Adaigbe, Cecilia Osama, Julius Mekwey, Late Mrs. Beatrice Achi, Late Mr. Christopher Onwebuzoie and some members of Alexander Ebunu’s family. Alexander Ebunu prepared them and took them from Agbor in Benin for baptism. Ika district has one organized church and three companies. The membership of Ika district is 117.
ISOKO: It covers Isoko North and South L.G.As. The Work in Isoko began in 1982 at Owheilogbo with Late Pa Paul Oseghe and his family members who got the message from Okitipuipa. The public evangelism conducted by the church brought in; John Odeh, Ifogho Jacob, Ogoh Gabriel and others. The first evangelist that was sent to Isoko was Mr. John Ekashili under the then Ashaka District. Isoko has two organized churches and seven companies. It membership stands at 267.
NDOKWA: The church in Ndokwa started in 1973 by the Ekiase at Ashka town. Its beginning is traceable also to Late Elder Alexander Ebunu who was a literature Evangelist and had a shop along Ashaka road. The first early official Missionaries to Ashaka where Pastor Joseph Ola, Mrs. Florence Ogunseyan, Michel Bello, Mrs. T. O. Ekase and Mr. Benson Edewor. Some of the pioneer converts in Ndokwa were; Mr. and Mrs. Ndanenu, and Mr. and Mrs. Eke. The church started in primary school opposite Technical College, Umusan Road. Ndokwa has one organized church and two companies with total membership of 149.
OSHIMILI: In 1978, the Seventh-day Adventist Church got to Oshimili (Delta Igbo lands).The message was taken there by late pastor Paul C. Chima .The work started at Akuku-Igbo with few persons who later left the church. In 1981, Late pastor P.C. Chima conducted an evangelistic effort that brought in Mr.& late Mrs. U. G. Otionu, Mr. and Mrs. Ndubuise Onyeawuia, Mr. Okolo, Mrs . Charity Owuka and Anthony Oluwa. Otionu and Anthony were charged with the responsibility of securing the land where the church at Akwukwu Igbo is built. In 1993, Pastor Okei Okonkwo and Elder Nwandei held an evangelistic effort in Issele-Uku that brought to the Church about ten members. This evangelism gave birth to the Church in Issele-Uku. Elder Nwandei bought the Church land at Issele-Uku. Today Oshimili has two branches as companies; Akwukwu and Issele-Uku. Membership stands at 51.
OROGUN: The church at Orogun started in 1960 by Retired Pastor Simeon Okan-Gbenedio who was then civil servant under the Ministry of Agric. Pastor Gbenedio was a student of Voice of Prophesy at Ibadan. In the 1961, VOP ducked Pastor L. O. Osekete Who then stationed at Ajagbodudu to visit S. O. Gbenedio for the purpose of uniting him with the Church of God. At the end of their interaction Pastor Gbenedio accepted the faith and started to spread the Advent message to every nook and cranny of Ughelli, Where he worked as officer of Ministry of Agriculture. Pastor S. O. Gbenedio finally left the Government employment for full Gospel Ministry via Adventist College of West Africa (ACWA).Some of the first convent Orogun were; Jacob, Joseph, Philip, All of the family of Ighoroje, Ebioke Felix, James Urueya, Johnson Oteri, Madam Ogodobo Oriavweta and Samuel Ntigoruku. These people were prepared for six years before they were baptized. The first baptism in Orogun took place in December 17, 1966. Orogun presently has one organized Church and three companies with total Membership of 318.
RIVERINE: The Riverine churches have a very interesting history. It covers Burutu and Bomadi LGAs. The work started with Pastor Mecca Azigbeotu who received a revelation while he runs his private business in Kogi State. In a vision by one Prophet Kalu, he was specifically told to go to Akugbene (a community in Burutu) and seek God’s instruction on what to do through prayer. While praying and fasting, he started reading the Bible it was then he discovered the Bible truth about the seventh day chastised. As a result, he decided to start keeping the Sabbath. He and his younger brother Enoch Azigbeotu took the Message to other nine communities and organized worship centers in each of this communities. This group kept the Sabbath for ten years before they ever had contact with Seventh-Day Adventist Church in January, 2002. They invited Pastor Jacob Umoru who then the Warri District pastor to their annual Camp meeting where they were baptized into the church. Today, the riverine group has seven companies and over 293 members.
SAPELE: In 1965 the Advent message got to Sapele through a Literature Evangelist from East Mission. The first member of the church in Sapele include; Mr. Samuel and Godday Nwahizu Families, Mr. Job Onwubiko, Kanu Shedrack, Mr. Sunday Dimgba’s family, and Morris Onyenula. The started worship in Mr. Samuel Nwahizu’s house along Ajogodo Road. Sapele Church was to experience new lease of evangelistic time when Elder Okwadigbo’s family relocated to Sapele from Abraka. The growth of the church was astronomical that the sitting room of the Nwahizus could no longer hold people and the church relocated to the Sapele Youth Center where they worship until the Nigerian civil war broke out in 1967. The war greatly reduced the numerical strength of the church as most converts were Easterners who had to return to their place of origin for security reasons. At the end of the war, those who remained and few others who returned to Sapele gathered and began worship at 13, Major Bown Road. The next phase of progress in Sapele Church began the mild 80s when late Elder Tasker and family relocated to Sapele from Uromi. Elder Tasker became the evangelical arrow-head that pioneered the work in the Igere area of Sapele from leading to the establishment of the present Igere church.
In view of the huge progress of the work in Sapele, it became obvious that the church needed to have a permanent place of worship, and our God, who answers while we are yet praying bought one Chief John Avwenake to the church. It was this Chief that gave the land on which the Okirighwe Church stands today.
This movement affected the church greatly. However, after the war, the few members who came back moved relocated to 13, Major Bowen Road for worship. In the mild 1980s the family of late Elder Taska joined the church from Uromi. Their contributions to the church were great. He later led some members to pioneer the Igere Church. In the late 1970s one Chief John Abwenake who started to come Church was touched by the church serious need for a permanent place of worship, donated Okirighwe church land to the church. The church in Koko was pioneered by pastor Omijeh Eld
UGHELLI: This District covers Ughelli South LGAs. In 1971 the Church got to Ughelli through late Isaac Obukowho, a Literature Evangelist. The church in Ughelli started in Elder Odion’s house along Post Office Road. Today Ughelli district has 3 organized churches and 6 companies with a membership of 599.
WARRI: Warri District covers Warri South LGA. The Church in Delta State started in Warri (lyara) as recorded earlier. Warri gave birth to Sapele, Ughelli , Abraka, Effurun, Ekpan, DSC and districts.The Church in Warri was pioneered by pastor Onumegbu and one unidentified literature who came to Warri as evangelists from the then East Nigeria Mission. Many of the foremost coverts to the church were majorly strangers from other parts of Nigeria who only came for one business or the other but never stayed for long. This perhaps explains the little or no record about them. It is on record however that the church in Warri first had her recorded worship services in late Elder Roland Faka’s parlour at 14 Esisi Street, Warri before the construction of the thatched hut were Odibo Church is situated today.
Odibo Church is the first organized church in Delta. Warri District today has 3 organised churches and 2 companies with a membership of 520.
Who We Are
NO 6 Onoriji Street, Off Jakpa Road, Ekpan, Delta State Nigeria
P.O. Box 340, Effurun Nigeria