We thank the Almighty God that He in His Infinite Mercy has been so good to us and has led us through these 50 years. MAY HIS NAME BE PRAISED!
We are also thanking God for using some visionary people like:
- REV. B. T. GRIFFIN: Associational Adviser
- REV. E. A. DAHUNSI: The Then Pastor of First Baptist Church Board Street, Lagos.
- A. L. SIKES: A Deacon from a Baptist Church In HuLL-TEXAS
- J.A. SHOLEYE: A Deacon from First Baptist Church Broad Street, Lagos.
- P. N. MALAFA: Member of First Baptist Church Broad Street Lagos.
- MRS. P.E. ADEWALE: Member of First Baptist Church Broad Street Lagos
- AREOLA KING: Member of First Baptist Church Broad Street Lagos.
They bought the idea brought forth by Rev. Griffin, Deacon Sikes and Mr. Malafa that, there was need to start an English speaking Service because of the Non-Yoruba speaking worshipers in First Baptist Church- Broad Street Lagos.
Rev. Griffin saw the need because a lot of American Baptist members living in Ikoyi and Victoria Island did not have a place to worship. As soon as this idea was agreed upon Dn. J.A. Sholeye was asked to go and lead that assembly and Dn. A.L. Sikes offered his sitting room at No 8A Ademola street- off Awolowo Road- South West Ikoyi, for the first service to be held there on 28th May 1967. On that day the attendance was very few, 27 people attended the number of Children who attended was more than the adults. After this First Service a search for a convenient and spacious place for worship began, finally Aunty Ayo Manuwa Preparatory School. Biaduo Street was located. Mrs. Ayo Manuwa willingly agreed that the Church can use the Hall upstairs and some rooms also. She said that as a daughter of a Late Bishop, she could not refuse a church from using the Hall.
Deacon Sikes and his house attendant Bro. Friday started house to house evangelism giving out tracts and also inviting people to worship in the new church. This made a lot of students from Federal School of Science which was then situated along King George V Road Onikan to become regular worshipers in the church thus increasing the number of worshipers in the Church. These students became very useful in the Choir and Ushering dept.
Gradually Ikoyi Baptist Church became a place of worship for members from India, Philippine, Equatorial Guinea, Britain, USA, Canada Cameroon and Indonesia. Ikoyi Baptist Church became the First Church in Nigerian to convert Indonesians to Christianity. Sis. Esther Harrini and Bro Suripto Djokoleno, both Philipinos were baptised and wedded at First Baptist Church-Broad Street. Sis. Esther Taiwo and Sis. Omolade Dada rendered a duet at that wedding. Ms Fehintola Sholeye was their maid of Honour.
EARLIEST MEMBERS: Mr. Malafa was the first Choirmaster and Organist. When he was transferred out of the country, Mr. Boatman took over and Mrs. Ethylene Sikes took over from Boatman. When Mrs. Sikes went home to U.S.A on health grounds Mrs. Keine took over as the Organist while Mr. Malafa was the Choirmaster. As Mrs. Keine went home to USA Mrs. Regions took over as the organist. Mrs. Sikes also served as financial Secretary/Treasurer taking over from Mrs. Alice Griffin. When Dn. Malafa was transferred to Zambia Dn. Babatunde Onolaja became the Choirmaster with Mr. Akinade Solomon as the Organist.
Dn. Sikes was the first Sunday School Superintendent and was assisted by Bro. Lanre Oyerinde. When Dn. Sikes went home to USA Dn. Okanla took over, but because of his work, he was assisted by Dn. Noah Fadayomi. Later Mr. Jim Webster was appointed as Sunday School Superintendent. We had Sunday School Teachers like Dn. Berth Johnson, Dn. Oldham, Dn. Harvey, Mrs. E. F. Sholeye, Dn. Dale Jacoby, Dn. Ray Fields, Mr. Israel Ogunlokun, Mr. Dambo, Mr. Abraham Akpe, (former Director General of Prisons) Mr. Ben Konyehi who later became Sunday School Superintendent, also Dn. E. Oke, Dn. P. Malafa and Dn. Adebisi were Sunday School teachers. Mr. Abraham Akpe became the Director of Church Training Union, and when he left on transfer Mr. Dele Egunleti took over as the Director of Church Training Union. Brother Israel Oguntokun was the Youth leader, while the Youth Counsellor was Mr. B. F. Dada.
The First President of WMU was late Mrs. P.E. Adewale. When she died Mrs. E.F. Sholeye became the President. When Mrs Sholeye became ill Mrs. Joan Ayo took over from her and later handed over to Mrs. Fola Okanla.
The MMU was just upcoming, we used to meet at Dn. Malafa’s house. The first Chief Usher of the church was Mr. Edward O. Ayo, because he was a Federal Government Official he was travelling all the time, he asked Bro Rawling Eyo and Bro lanre Oyerinde to assist him.. After some time he relinquished the post of chief usher to Bro Rawling Eyo. Bro. Eyo served, for some time and as he was relocating to Cross River State, Bro. Enoch Langwa was asked to take over as chief usher, Bro Langwa after some time handed over to Bro John Bender.
Mention should be made of other ushers who assisted the Chief usher- people like Bro. Remi Adeleke, Bro. Tokunbo Oyerinde, Bro. Elias Omeje, Bro. Sunday Atawodi, Bro. Ezekiel Girikpa, Bro. Steven Oduekun and others.
The women played very important role. They assisted in collecting tithes and offering. Mr. Omolade Dada, Mrs. Esther Taiwo, Dr. Olutimayin, Mrs. Esther Djokolelon. Mrs E. Omidiji, Mrs. F. Egunleti, Ms Edith Body-Lawson, Mrs. Akinsete, Dns. R. Oke,. Mrs. Nene Malafa, Mrs. Giwa, Mrs. J. Ayo, Mrs. F. Okanla, Mrs. T. Onalaja Mrs. Situ Amoniba, Mrs. Sholeye who was always standing by to assist in case a member whose turn it was to collect fails to report Mrs. Dambo and others. They collected the offering counted the money and had it recorded in the book, for record purposes. Later Dr. (Mrs.) Abiodun Oduwole & Mrs. Fehintola Adamolekun joined the ushers.
CHILDREN’S CHURCH: The Children Department used to hold in one of the class rooms upstairs. Mrs. Sholeye was their first leader very well assisted by Mrs. Oyerinde, Mrs. O. Adebisi, Sis. Lanre Awogboro, Sis. Edith Body-Lawson, Sis. Ijeoma Ugenyi and Sis Agnes Nganje When Mrs. Sholeye died the leadership fell on Mrs. Oyerinde aka Grandma Oyerinde, who became the longest Children’s Department Leader.
CHALLENGES: The Hall used for the worship at Aunty Ayo Manuwa Preparatory School was spacious, but there were no chairs thus the Church bought some iron chairs, and as the Church increased in number, members also bought more chairs. There were no electric fans since there was no place to fix them and after service the chairs were stacked away. Members also bought locally made hand fans to use as there were no electric fans. The road leading to the Hall was equally bad, during the rainy season or any rainy day it became so marshy and muddy that we had to place planks on it so that worshipers could walk on it to the Church. I recall that any time we were to have any outside preacher; Rev. Sholeye would ask me to go out and wait for the preacher so as to guide him to the place of worship.
SOME EARLIER VISITING PREACHERS: We had preachers like G.O. Onosode, Col. (Dr. Dn.) Ajao an Orthopaedic surgeon with the military medical department, Rev. E.A. Dahunsi, Dn. E.A. Molajo both from First Baptist Church- Broad Street, Rev. Fitzjohn who was then Sierra Leone High Commissioner in Nigeria, Prof. Aderibigbe from Lagos University, Dr. Eubanks and Dr. Macfadden both from Baptist Hospital Eku , Rev (Dr.) J.A. Adegbite from Baptist Academy Obanikoro and Prof. (Rev.) Osadolor.
EVANGELISM: On Saturdays, after the choir practise at 8A Ademola Street- Dn. Sikes, Bro. Friday and some members would go out giving out tracts and inviting people to come and worship with us at Aunty Ayo Manuwa Preparatory School Hall.
MAJOR ACTIVITIES OF THE CHURCH: Most of the activities of the Church were always held at our Mother Church First Baptist Church-Broad Street, Like Weddings, Baptism, Ordination of our first two Deacons- Dn. Okanla and Dn. Fadayomi, the installation of Bro. Joseph Ayodele Sholeye as Pastor of Ikoyi Baptist Church which was held on 31st August, 1975 after graduating as a Pastor in Baptist Seminary Ogbomosho. and the Ordination Service of Pastor Sholeye on 23rd November 1975; and the Organization of the Church on 6th October 1974, all of these were held at our mother church. The First Baptist Church Lagos 24A, Broad Street, Lagos.
SEARCH FOR A NEW – VENUE: While we were there at Biadu Street a search for a land to buy and build began. We first applied to Lagos State Government for a piece of land situated along Biadu Street where to-day has a school built on it, Gov. M. Johnson turned down our request that a church cannot be built in a residential area. It was then that Rev. Sholeye decided to look in another direction. This finally led to Rev. Sholeye applying to Baptist Mission Board with Rev. Griffin Supporting him, to build a place of worship at 5 Bell Avenue. This was agreed and Rev. Sholeye applied to Lagos State Government for an approval to build a place of worship at 5 Bell Avenue because the American Southern Baptist Mission had no objection to transfer 5, Bell Avenue to Ikoyi Baptist Church, The Lagos State government was not favourably disposed to such an idea. No 5 Bell Avenue is located in a low density residential area and the idea of a place of worship in the neighbourhood was objectionable.
But like a lightning bolt out of the blue, the Lord decided to show His mighty hand. One Sunday evening in April 1979, after the Worship Service at the Dodan Barracks Chapel, General Olusegun Obasanjo (then Nigeria’s military Head of State), beckoned on Rev. J.A. Sholeye (unofficial State House chaplain) over and asked him to go and see Rev. Odunlami (A Methodist prelate),then Deputy Administrator (Deputy Governor) to Commander Ebitu Ukiwe (the Military Administrator(Governor) of Lagos State.
REVEREND SHOLEYE WAS TO GO AND COLLECT THE LETTER OF APPROVAL AUTHORISING IKOYI BAPTIST CHURCH TO USE N0. 5, BELL AVENUE AS A PLACE OF FELLOWSHIP
He was specifically asked to go on the Thursday of that week as the State Exco usually met on Wednesdays. That in a nutshell is how God used General Obasanjo to glorify His name in securing the site as a permanent worship place in spite of the law of the land. It was a divine intervention. Like Mordecai prompted Esther. “Esther 4:14b-And who knows but that you have come to your royal position at such a time as this.” so also was the intervention in the acquisition of No. 7, Bell Avenue God moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.
Arc. Aderele’s Allied Architects was commissioned to prepare a design proposal for the new Church, but unfortunately death snatched him and his spouse away in a fatal motor accident in Shagamu, Ogun State.
Arc. Olusegun (now Ven.) Kuti’s, Inter Designs Partnership was thereafter commissioned to prepare a design for the Church. His design proposal consisted of 3 units to be implemented in Phases: Phase 1- The Chapel (now the Old Sanctuary); Phase 2- The Pastorium; Phase 3- The Main Auditorium. But only the Chapel was built out of the 3 proposed units.
The construction of the Chapel was supervised through the active collaboration of Engr. Ayo Omidiji (Chairman), Engr. Folarin Oluwole (Civil), late Engr. Tunde Onalaja (Electrical) and Arc. Kayode Oduwole.
PIONEER MEMBERS: Mention should be made of
- Mr. & Mrs. B. T. Griffin
- A. L. Sikes
- Berth Johnson
- Dale Jacoby
- Ray Fields
- N. Fadayomi
- P. Malafa
- P.E. Adewale
- Mr. & Mrs. Ayo Omidiji
- Dn & Dns. E. Oke
- Dn. & Dns. B. Oluwole
- Col. & Mrs.. L. S. Dawson
- Mr. & Mrs. S. J. Poythress
- Prof & Mrs. Ishaya Audu
- Mrs. Oyeniya and their Family
- R. Ogbemudia and her Family
- Arch & Mrs. (Dr.) K. Oduwole
- A. Akano
- Mr. & Mrs. S. A. Taiwo and the Family
- Gen Ajibade
- Helen Batubo
- Akpan who was the Church Treasure
- (Mrs.) Oluwatimayin
- T. Chesprot
- E. B. Chamfor
- F. Falope
- I. Ugenyi and her Children
- B. F. Dada
- A. Nganje and her Children
- Dn & Dns. L. Phillips and Children
- Mr. & Mrs B. Onolaja & Children
- Chief Mrs. O.F.J. Oyaide
- Ayo Joseph
- Gbemi Ademoroti
- Mr. & Mrs. Jare Alade and the family
- Mrs. Akpan and the family
- Brig-Gen & Mrs. Togun and the Family
In conclusion, we sincerely thank the Almighty God for giving us a great Visionary and a Church Planter in the person of Late Rev. J.A. Sholeye. I vividly remember that at any meeting be it Church in Conference or Church Council he would insist that the Church should continually pray to God to build a place of worship for us in Ikoyi, so that our non Roman Catholic brothers and non Yoruba speaking brothers could have a place to worship on Sundays. Also may I quote his words “Let us try and build a place of worship in Ikoyi so that our non Yoruba speaking Christian brethren can have a place of worship”. That is what has come to pass. To God be the glory!
Credit: Bro. R. Eyo