The Nigerian Chaplaincy serves as a visible representation of the Church of Nigerian (Anglican Communion) in UK and complements the efforts of the Church of England (COE) in providing pastoral care and spiritual support to Nigerian Anglicans in particular and to Nigerians of all faiths and none who are resident, studying or visiting United Kingdom.
In the early seventies, there were thousands of Nigerian students studying in British Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Higher and Further Education. Many of these who were Anglicans were given cold receptions in their local Church of England Parish Churches as well as in the wider community. This experience deprived them of a much needed spiritual base and moral support, which inevitably led to discouragement. For some, this resulted in a complete lost of interest in Christianity all together.
The Nigerian Chaplaincy was then set up in 1980 by the CMS (Church Mission Society) in conjunction with the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion and the OFNC (Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians in Great Britain). It was established in response to the spiritual, social and welfare needs of Nigerian students in UK and to assist local churches to reach out to and receive/welcome the students into their folds. On finishing their studies, a great number of these Nigerians have settled to live and work in the United Kingdom. As a result of this, the scope of the Nigerian Chaplaincy has widened to include ministering to families with Nigerian roots.
The intention and mission of the Nigerian Chaplaincy is quite clear: we not competing with the COE or setting up a parallel Anglican Church in England but rather complementing the efforts of COE in Christian mission and ministry, thereby contributing to the bigger picture. We are aware that many Nigerian Anglicans are happily settled in the COE and are deeply involved in the mission and ministry of their various local parishes. However, we are equally aware that many of them are yearning for the African style of worship and Christian spirituality that an average COE parish Church may not be able to provide. As a result, a good number of Nigerian Anglicans in this category have left the COE on the premise that the COE ‘is not sufficiently lively, vibrant, and culturally sensitive and relevant’ to some aspects of their spiritual needs. On leaving the CoE, based on this perception, many of them became ‘clients’ to Neo-Pentecostal and Pseudo-Pentecostal groups that are lead by Nigerians, where emphasis are not on balanced Christian discipleship and ministry but rather on ‘materialism and financial prosperity’.
Therefore, the focus of the Nigerian Chaplaincy at the moment is to position itself to attract and welcome such people and to provide them with culturally sensitive and relevant pastoral care, taking into consideration the Nigerian context and worldviews. We do so in collaboration and in partnership with the COE.
In Diocese of London, the experiment is already working. We meet every third Sunday at St John the Evangelist Church, Archway, Pemberton Gardens, N19 5RR. The service focus is Eucharist but time is devoted to Nigerian style of ‘praises and worship’ as well as devoting time to praying ‘all manners of prayers’! Services time is always 4pm. The Nigerian Chaplain is formerly licensed by the Lord Bishop of London to perform this role.
In Diocese of Southwark, we have a Nigerian Anglican congregation known as the Church of the Transfiguration (CTT) that meets at the All Saints Church, New Cross Road, London SE14 5DJ. The service time is 1pm every Sunday. Special features include WORD FEAST, High and anointed Praise and Worship session and Prayer Quake! Great opportunities exist for people to exercise their gifts and ministry. The Chaplain is licensed by the Bishop of Southwark to lead this congregation.
Furthermore, in partnership with the Church of England, the Nigerian Chaplaincy has established other worshipping Nigerian communities in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Milton Keynes as follows:
•Anglican Igbo Church of the Holy Trinity that meets every first Sunday of the month at 4pm. Venue: All Saints Church Poplar, London E14 0EH (Contact: Venerable Dr Amatu Onundu Christian-Iwuagwu: 07429 863280)
•Church of the Resurrection that meets every Sunday at 10am. Venue: St Michael’s Church Hall, Orthon Road, Northern Moor, Manchester M22 4NJ. (Contact: Venerable Dr Gideon Ilechukwu, Tel: 07411 239576)
•The Anglican Church of Light & Life that meets every Sunday at 12.30pm. Venue: St Georges Church, 100 Bridge Street West, Newtown, Birmingham B19 2YX. (Contact: The Rev Dele Sotonwa; Tel: 07837 421941)
•The Church of the Holy Cross that meets every Sunday at 11.00am. Venue: 2 Church Hill Two Mile Ash, Bucks MK8 8EQ (Contact: The Rev Dayo Adebiyi; Tel: 07782 224310)