It was a full atmosphere of joy for the town and the people of Osoogun at the sight of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican communion and his entourage into the ancient town of Bishop Ajayi Crowther.
The memories of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and his landmark missionary footprint across West Africa came alive in his home town, Osoogun, Iseyin in the Oyo State of Nigeria on Wednesday 20 January 2021 when The Most Revd Henry Ndukuba Archbishop Metropolitan & Primate Of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion led some Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Registrar, General Secretary, Chancellor and other high ranking officers of the Church of Nigeria and Laity for the dedication of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther Mission Centre.
In a moving and spiritual invocation to declare open a place of worship at the centre, Primate Ndukuba knocking on the main door declared: “Peace, be to this house and all who enter, in the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. This statements set the tone for the opening of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion Mission Center which many has described as monumental for the growth of the church and the immortalization of the first African Bishop.
The Centre which has various points that was dedicated by the primate; belfry, baptismal font, lectern, pulpit, chancel steps, prayer desk, choir stalls and the holy table in the Chapel, and also other facilities in the centre such as the training hall, the guest house, the security post/gate house, the Rectory and the unveiling of the centre plaque.
Primate Ndukuba noted and commended the immediate past Primate of the Church, Most Rev’d Dr. Nicholas D. Okoh (Rtd), for the vision to establish the Centre in 2007 under his Primacy. He further stated that this commissioning is the first phase of the project as other things such as library, museum and other facilities for effective training and utilization of the training of mission workers will commence in the second phase.
In his sermon tagged ‘Made great in Christ’, the Primate noted that every man is born to be great through Christ Jesus and He is always there for us at all time to take us through all storms of life to the great agenda he has set for us. Noting that Bishop Crowther was targeted to be destroyed but God had His great agenda for him and brought him out to fulfill His purpose. Hence, no one who is in Christ will be abandoned as He has not called us to be abandoned but to bring us to the fulfilment of eternal life.
Primate Ndukuba said the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) “owes a great part of her historical origins, establishment, growth and expansion to the missionary expeditions of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther”.
Bishop Ajayi Crowther he recalled was the first black Anglican Bishop to be consecrated.” Though neglected in those days but today Ajayi Crowther has become a cornerstone for all Christians all over the world. He was a missionary of excellence of many parts in humility, a teacher and linguist, historian who totally followed Jesus Christ and served Him faithfully.”
He said, it has always being the tradition of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion to celebrate Bishop Ajayi Crowther every July 27 to praise and thank God for what He did through him right from childhood in the eastern part of Nigeria.
He noted that, coming to Osoogun was like going to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the place of birth of Jesus. ‘Micah 5:2-4 was the passage that came to heart while I was preparing for the word of God for this dedication. The more I looked into this passage, the more I see the life and mission of Bishop Ajayi Crowther. A man who came and walk through the earth to save a lot of souls and bring us to Christ.
“We now have Osoogun Mission Centre christened ‘Our Jerusalem’ where we can come to worship, educate mission workers and also serve as pilgrimage for all Christians,” he said.
He praised the efforts of Archbishop of Ibadan Province Most Rev. Dr. Segun Okubadejo, who is the Chairman of the building committee, and the untiring spirit of Bishop of the Missionary Diocese of Ajayi Crowther, the Rt. Rev’d Olugbenga Olukemi Oduntan, the clergy and laity.
Samuel Ajayi Crowther was commissioned in 1857 with others to carry out missionary works in different parts of Nigeria and West Africa, a task he conscientiously pursued with godly zeal, against all odds, to the end that missionary presence was fully established in the places he worked; Samuel Ajayi Crowther was born and bred in Osoogun in 1809 and translated to glory in 1891.
The Primate and his entourage also visited the over 200 years old tree of baobab which bishop Ajayi Crowther was tied after being captured by slave traders.
The host Archbishop, Most Rev. Olusegun Okubadejo also appreciate and welcome the Primate, the wife and his entourage to the birth place of Bishop Ajayi Crowther, noting that this move by the Church is a great effort that will be sustained and maintained for the growth of the Church and development of the Osoogun town.
The Bishop of Ajayi Crowther Missionary Diocese expresses great joy and fulfilment of ministry on this occasion as he noted that this has taken 200 years (1821 -2021) after the captivity of Ajayi Crowther to once again declare freedom and resurgence of his missionary spirit. He noted that the mission centre will serve not only Nigeria but the whole world.
The Church of Nigeria General Secretary, Ven. Dr. Paul Dajur, who also supervised the project noted that God has brought His light to Osoogun and the people can rejoice once again after their child has taken the light of Christ to all part of the country. He noted that the mission centre is for training and research and the places being dedicated is the first phase of the project. The second phase will contain the museum, library and other great facility that will transform the place and make it a global centre for training missionaries.
Present at the dedication are Dean of the Church, Most Rev. Buba Lamido, Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Olushina Fape, Archbishop of Bendel, Most Rev. Cyril Odutemu, Most Rev. Israel Amoo of Kwara Province, Bishops from various Dioceses, The Registrar of the Church of Nigeria, Barr. Abraham Yisa, The General Secretary, The Director of Missions, The Director of Communications, The Chief Protocol Officer, The Chancellor of the Diocese of Ajayi Crowther, The Board Chairman of ACNN TV, The General Manager of ACNN TV, The Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor, The Registrar, Bursar, Liberian of Ajayi Crowther University, Royal fathers and local government officials.