Page 37 - Presbyterian Connection
P. 37
Continued from page 36
and traditions, earning their respect and putting an end to many traditional practices, such as the killing of twins. She adopted some of the twins she saved. One missionary at the time of Mary’s death stated that Mary was “a whirlwind, an earthquake, a fire and a still small voice all in one.”
When Southern Nigeria became a British Protectorate, Mary Sles- sor became the first-ever female magistrate in the British Empire and a skillful diplomatic emissary. She is remembered in Nigeria as a great Christian woman and someone who became, “The Mother of All the Peo- ples.” She was lovingly called “Ma.” A massive statue of Mary Slessor dominates the main roundabout in the city of Calabar. Her image adorns the Clydesdale Bank £10 note. A bust of Mary Slessor has been added to the existing 16 figures of famous men from Scotland’s history at The Hall of Heroes at the National Wallace Monument near Stirling. She was, in- deed, remarkable.
In June 1952, the name of the church was adjusted to “the Pres- byterian Church of Eastern Nigeria.” This name was further altered by the Synod in June 1960 to “the Presby- terian Church of Nigeria.”
Responding to requests from the Church of Scotland, The Presbyterian Church in Canada began to share in the work of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria in November 1954. First priorities were for youth and wom- en’s workers, educationalists and clergy. There would then be an em- phasis placed on skills in medicine, agriculture, architecture, theological education and administration.
Never without tribal tensions and having been cobbled together by European colonial powers, the unity of Nigeria, optimistically embraced at Independence in 1960, became increasingly strained. It broke dra- matically following tribal pogroms in 1966 and a declaration of secession by eastern Nigeria into the Republic of Biafra in May 1967. Building upon the PCC’s well-established and solid relationship with its partner, and with many national leaders in both the Federal Nigerian government and in the break-away secessionist enclave of Biafra, The Presbyterian Church in Canada was well placed to partici- pate in many international attempts to support the people of Nigeria on both sides of the Biafran conflict.
Early peacemaking attempts were made primarily by the Rev. E. H. (Ted) Johnson. He shuttled between the two entities and hosted leaders of both factions in Canada. He lobbied European, United Nations, Vatican and Commonwealth envoys, seeking ways to bring about a peaceful con-
clusion. These efforts dwindled in ef- fectiveness and by mid-1968 it was obvious that humanitarian interven- tions were increasingly necessary to try to curtail massive starvation and death within the civilian population of Biafra.
Canadian Presbyterian missionar- ies who had remained within Bia- fra, Ron and Hazel McGraw, helped manage food distribution as well as medical support and vaccination programs. The Rev. E.F. Roberts and Mrs. Dorothy Roberts were second- ed to Christian Council relief efforts out of Lagos on the Nigerian side. Frustrated by the lack of Canadian government intervention in the crisis in Nigeria from 1967 until January 1970, concerned Canadians looked for ways to support humanitarian efforts. With the assistance of Jack Grant, a Jewish businessman, the PCC and Oxfam Canada formed a group called Canairelief. Canairelief ultimately purchased five Super Con- stellation airplanes, contracted pilots and aircrew, and joined Europeans and Americans in the organization of Joint Church Aid (JCA) in order to fly aid directly into Biafra. (This airline would effectively be known as Je- sus Christ Airline.) More can be read about the PCC’s work in this regard at
Having just come through the hor- rendous Civil War, in January 1971 the Synod of The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria recognized the changes that hadtakenplaceintheirnationandre- alized the need for the Church to ad- just itself to the situation for effective evangelism. That Synod also agreed to adopt a new structure, including a General Assembly as the supreme courtoftheChurch.Itwouldtake16 years, but the General Assembly was duly inaugurated on August 22, 1987, in Duke Town Presbyterian Church, Eyamba Street, Calabar. The Assem- bly officials at that time were: the Right Reverend James U. Ukaegbu, Moderator; the Rev. O.B. Ekpenyong, Principal Clerk; the Rev. R.W. Fee, Deputy Clerk; and Mr. Okon Effiong, Treasurer.
Following the Civil War, the United Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Netherlands Reformed Church joined in par tnership in mission primar- ily in medical, church planting and theological education endeavours through the sharing of personnel. The American partnership was carried over to the successor Presbyterian Church (USA).
In 2021, the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria (PCN) celebrated 175 years of Christian witness. During his address at the anniversary cel- ebrations, His Eminence Nzie Nsi Eke, (prelate and moderator of the
Ezzikwo Parish Session Meeting, October 13, 1978, with the Rev. Rick Fee as Moderator. PHOTO CREDIT: DAVID PANDY-SZEKERES
  General Assembly of the PCN) spoke about the founding and history of the PCN. The PCN established several missions (educational and medical) in Nigeria, many of which had val- ued educational facilities associated with them. “It is on record that most people who laid a solid foundation for (the) development of Nigeria as a nation and, (especially in) the educa- tional sector, passed through or have links with a Presbyterian Institution,” the Prelate said.
Presbyterians were also pioneers in Bible translation in Nigeria. The translation of the Bible into the Efik
language in 1862 was the first Bible translated into the vernacular in the over 371 languages spoken in Nige- ria. This interest of the church was carried over to the PCC’s support of the Abakaliki Bible Translation Trust, which saw the translation of the Ikwo, Ezaa, Izzi Old and New Testa- ments right up to 2021.
Nigeria has the largest Christian population of any African country. Christians make up approximately 49% of the population, with the ma- jority of Nigerians being Muslim. While most of the Christian popula- tion in Nigeria is Protestant, the Ro-
man Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination.
Today, the problems of nationhood still plague Nigeria. Tribal animosity, religious intolerance, a huge youthful educated but unemployed popula- tion, rampant crime and corruption beset each elected government. Democracy has prevailed in the last three rounds of national elections, but no government has been free from accusations of corruption, tribal favouritism and abuse of power. Kid- napping, unbridled exploitation of any and all resources are all factors chal- lenging today’s Nigeria.
 Canadian Presbyterian Missionaries Seconded to the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria (1954–2009):
Agnes Gollan
Joan Rochemont
The Rev. Earle F. and Dorothy Roberts
The Rev. Geoffrey D. and Mary Louise Johnston Dorothy Bulmer
Anne Howson and Elsie Taylor
Dr. Roy V. and Catrina Ward
Samuel W. and Hazel Harder
Rose Chambers (Nurse)
Ron and Hazel McGraw (married 1966)
The Rev. M. Roy and Beverly Gellatly
Elizabeth Ann Howson (Mrs. Ian Giffin)
The Rev. Walter F. and Barbara McLean
Murray and Marjorie Ross
Robert and Carolyn Birse
Shirley Dredge
The Rev. John A. and Heather (Erica) Johnston
The Rev. David T. and Nancy Craig
The Rev. Russell T. and Margaret Hall
The Rev. Alex Zeidman (Biafra relief six months)
John Allan Reoch (Biafra relief)
Doris Adams (Biafra relief)
The Rev. Robert Dale and Sheila Wilson
Dr. Ronald and Mary Unger
The Rev. Donald W. MacKay
The Rev. Richard W. Fee (+Africa Liaison, 1987–1992). Dr. Ronald and Mrs. MacLeod
Dr. David and Sheila Irwin
Dale and Carol Wilson
Trevor and Patricia Fowler
Arlene Randall (husband: David Onuoha)
The Rev. Barry and Anita Mack
James and Kathleen Whitefield
The Rev. Margaret Anne Reid and Dennis Single
1957–1965; 1968–1970
1960–1966; S.W. CCN in Lagos, 1969 1965–1967?
1966–1967; D.T.: July 1969 – 31 Dec. 1969 1966–1976
1968–1969; May – Oct. 1971
1971–1978; 1984–1990; 1991–1998 1977–1992
1978–1986; 1991–2009
1994–1996 (Joint UCC appointment)

   35   36   37   38   39