Page 36 - Presbyterian Connection
P. 36

The 175th Anniversary of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, 1846–2021
   Former Nigeria missionaries at a party for Alu Ibiam at the Rev. Rick Fee’s house in 2004. Back row (left to right): Earle Roberts, John Johnston, Walter McLean, Barbara McLean. Third Row (l to r): Charlotte Stuart, Dorothy Roberts, Margaret Hall, Heather Johnston (married to John), Don MacKay. Second row (l to r): Russell Hall, Mary Lou Johnston (married to Geoff), Geoff Johnston, Alu Ibiam. Front row (l to r): Agnes Gollan, Rick Fee, Bruce Roberts (son of Earle and Dorothy), Marjorie Ross.
Scotland, the “Presbytery of Biafra” was constituted for the oversight of the congregations which had been formed at Duke Town and Creek Town. It was resolved that the congregations and mission stations united under the superintendence of this presbytery be designated, “The Presbyterian Church in Biafra.” On April 9, 1872, the Pres- bytery of Biafra ordained the Rev. Es- ien Esien Ukpabio.
In May of 1921, the Presbytery of Biafra was reconstituted as the Synod of Biafra, with two presbyter- ies, namely the Northern Presbytery and the Southern Presbytery, how- ever still under the church name, The Presbyterian Church in Biafra. It was this church that, on October 19, 1945, became the first independent mission church on the African conti- nent. Its adopted written Constitution declared itself to be an independent branch of the universal church of Jesus Christ. The Foreign Mission Committee of the Church of Scotland expressed its concurrence with this action, believing it to be in full ac- cordance with the aim and practice of the Church of Scotland in all its missionary enterprises.
With the recognition of an inde- pendent autonomous African church, the Calabar Mission Council (of the Foreign Mission Committee of the Church of Scotland), recognized that the time had come for its respon- sibility for Christian Education to be undertaken by a body with wide representation of educated African opinion. In May 1946, it transferred all educational work to a body known as the “Education Authority of the Church of Scotland Mission, Cala- bar.” That body was later named the “Education Authority of the Presbyte- rian Church of Nigeria.”
The premier educational institution of the Calabar Mission was the Hope Waddell Training Institution, estab- lished in 1895, which has garnered a stellar reputation all along the West African coast.
In due course, the Calabar Mis- sion Council, considering it wise that the work remaining under its control should become the concern of the church, resolved to set up Boards for the administration of that work and to then dissolve. The Education Authority and the Hope Waddell Training Institu- tion Board of Governors agreed to the
Dr. Akanu Ibiam and the Rev. Rick Fee in Nigeria.
integration of their work in the life of the Church. The Synod of the Church, in order to effect the integration of the work conducted by all these Boards and Authorities, agreed to revise its own Constitution and to establish a Standing Committee for the exercise of a general oversight of this work.
The Itu Leper Colony was con- ceived in 1926 and founded in 1928 when a Nigerian farmer, Kalu, went to the “native healer” for medicine. That healer believed the drought in the village was being caused by evil spirits at work. Kalu was accused of causing the drought. With his faith in this culture and traditional religion shattered, Kalu, suspecting that he suffered from leprosy and hearing of a “western” hospital, went down the Cross River to find it. With the motto, “In His Name” the Church of Scot- land Itu Leper Colony, Calabar Prov- ince, was founded by Dr. and Mrs. A. B. Macdonald. It would grow to become the largest residential leper colony in the world.
While there are innumerable Scot- tish missionaries who worked in Ni- geria—and several who are buried there, the name of Mary Slessor is most often mentioned and known internationally, especially in Nigeria, where she is revered to the point of sainthood even today. Mary Slessor was born in Aberdeen in 1848. She was inspired by the legendary ex- plorer Dr. David Livingstone to work as a missionary in Calabar, Nigeria in 1876. Determined to overcome the challenges of her early years and turning her back on mill work in Dundee, and largely self-taught, she combined her missionary zeal with a practical approach. She did not con- form to the colonial attitudes of the day and became one with the people in the way she lived.
Mary Slessor died in 1915 at the age of 67, after working tirelessly against a backdrop of prejudice, tra- ditional cultural practices and oppo- sition. Plagued throughout her years in the tropics by several bouts of ill- ness and constant danger, she lived within several villages of the Efik and Ibibio tribes, learned their languages
Continued on page 37
 A Canairelief plane carrying supplies during the Nigerian Civil War, 1967–1970.
Agnes Gollan and her fellow worker having some tire troubles in 1959. PHOTO CREDITS: THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ARCHIVES
By the Rev. Dr. Rick Fee, former international mission staff to Nigeria
On April 10, 1846, the Rev. Hope Masterdon Waddell, an Irish minis- ter working for the United Secession Church of Scotland in Jamaica, drew together several Jamaican missionar- ies and, with the support of the United Secession Church, arrived in Calabar, Nigeria, an outpost on the Cross River near the Atlantic Ocean coast. They had been invited by King Eyo Honesty II of Creek Town and King Eyamba V of Calabar, towns which existed under the Charter of the Royal Niger Com- pany of the Niger Coast Protectorate. The shape of the political entity of Nigeria was not to emerge until the Berlin Conference of 1884, another 38 years. This was the nascent begin- ning of the “Calabar Mission.”
The “Calabar Mission” was carried on successively by the United Seces- sion Church, the United Presbyterian Church, the United Free Church of Scotland and the Church of Scotland.
Eight years after arriving, in 1853, at Creek Town, the first convert was admitted by baptism into the church. That convert would eventually be- come the first ordained minister of the “Nigerian” church.
It was a full 12 years later, on Sept. 1, 1858, with the knowledge and con- currence of the Foreign Mission Board of the United Presbyterian Church in

   34   35   36   37   38