Owo Diocese

In the late 1880s and early 1890s, news of the Christian Gospel and its impacts on the communities of Abeokuta, Ilesa, Ibadan and Ondo had got to Owo and was widespread. Between 1890 and 1895 Christian influence was already strong in Owo and the environs through traders, government officials and converts who returned home. The result was that on October 25, 1895 the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ataneye sent a delegation to the Revd. T. A. J. Ogunbiyi at Ondo asking for Christian teachers in Owo. Also on March 18, 1898 the Alani of Idoani, sent three men to Bishop Charles Philip asking for Christian teachers. In 1898 Dr. Omojola Agbebi a government official came to Owo. He met a group of Christians at Chief Makun Adeyeri’s house at Ijebu-Owo. Their teacher was Mr. Joseph Adediran who was of the C.M.S. Church. He was the only Anglican man while others of the group were Baptists. He therefore removed Mr. Joseph Adediran and replaced him with Mr. Daniel Fayemiwo and christened the church Ebenezer Native Baptist Church. In the same year 1898 the following seven people were baptised.

  1. George Adetula (Sasere)
  2. Adagbon Aladesanwa (Osere’s son)
  3. Coker Ijaborode (Adafin Adegbegba’s son)
  4. Ikane Adeyinminu’s son at Ogbonmo, he later became
    a Muslim
  5. Osemuyisipe (Fayemiwo’s wife)
  6. Adebiyi (Elerewe’s son)
  7. Odanri

In 1900 the congregation put up the first church building at Oludasa Street, on the very spot where Owo Central Mosque was built and remains till today. On June 3, 1906, Bishop James Johnson held the first baptismal service in Owo. Candidates were Samuel Ogundowole, Thomas Oteniya, Emmanuel Awogbayila, Daniel Ogundowole, and Reuben Olaseigbe. In 1907 Owo was made a centre with resident English Priest to superintend the large area of Owo District. However, His Highness Oba Asebenimo Ogunoye 1 raised serious objection to his coming to stay in Owo. He felt the presence of a white man in Owo would inconvenience him. But for the timely intervention of some important personalities like Atiba Aiyejimiwo of Ipele, Josiah Olakunori Adekanye (later Chief Elerewe) and some four others, the problem was solved and Revd. H. F. Gane was allowed to stay. In 1910 the first anniversary of Owo District Church Council was held. The foundation of St. Andrew’s Church at Imola was laid on November 8, 1920 by Revd. F. Hedger assisted by Revd. T. Aderinola who preached. The collection on that day was £2.13s. The church was completed and consecrated on November 30, 1924 by Bishop F. Melville Jones and the collection was £18.18s 0 ½ d. His Highness Oba Olagbegi 1 the Olowo of Owo was in attendance. Christianity was introduced to Idoani on November 13, 1892 by the late Mr. Isaac Tenabe who was baptised at Ilesa in 1892, and confirmed later in 1894. He also started cocoa growing as an economic crop. His work extended to Oba Akoko
in 1898 and Owo in 1900.

The first baptism was November 25, 1900 conducted by late Revd (later Ven. Archdeacon) T.A.J. Ogunbiyi. Bishop James Johnson visited Idoani and baptised two persons on March 13, 1905. When the British Government established its headquarters at Ifon in 1898, it also marked the year Christianity was introduced to Ifon. In addition, many liberated slaves who had embraced Christianity found their way home to Ifon. Among them were John Alegbeleye, a native of Eme near Sabongida Ora, Aruna and his wife Maria Fadewe, native of Ipetu-Ijesa, Aba of Ikoro and Akinsete of Ondo. In 1904 the thatched roof church building was built and was dedicated by Bishop James Johnson in April 1912. Two people were confirmed after the service of dedication. In 1912, Revd. H.F. Gane baptised five men on the first occasion and three men on the second occasion of his visit.

It was 1902 that Christianity came to Okeluse through the White Missionaries. But God mightily used Mr. Samuel Adamala, one of the house boys of Revd. H. F. Gane, to bring Yoruba Bible and Hymn Book to Okeluse to teach the people. On June 20, 1926, the Rev. T. Aderinola opened St. Patrick’s Church, Ijebu Owo. Owing to some misunderstanding the church was closed down from March 19, 1933 to the end of December 1941. Mr. A.A. Isijola was appointed on March 21, 1943 by the late Revd. (later Bishop) I.O.S. Okusanya to be the church Agent in charge of the church. In 1910, the late Mr. Enoch Adekanye Oludayo started a church at Ute. Five people were baptised in 1916. In 1897 Christianity was introduced to Ipele by the late Chief Aiyejimiwo. On June 21, 1907 the first baptismal service took place when 12 people were baptised by Bishop James Johnson. On February 12, 1912 the first church Agent was posted to Ipele. The church at Ipele suffered many setbacks through the evil practices of traditional religious worshippers. St. John’s Iyere received Christianity in 1900, and Uso, in 1904,
through Mr. Olowojeun, while Emure Ile through an Ijesa woman trader, received Christianity in 1912.
In 1919 Owo D.C.C. became part of Lagos Diocese, no more under C.M.S. Niger Mission. In 1962 Ondo/Benin Diocese was created and Owo came under Ondo-Lokoja Archdeaconry. In 1962 Benin Diocese was carved out of Ondo/Benin. In 1966 Ekiti Diocese was created out of Ondo Diocese.

In 1969 Owo D.C.C. became an Archdeaconry with Ven. (now Bishop) J.L. Akeredolu as the first Archdeacon. Owo, Ifon and Idoani were created Districts. Later Okeluse, Owo East, Ute, Ipele/Iyere and Uso/Emure-Ile Districts came into being. The Agitation for the Diocese of Owo: The ‘Genesis’ The Agitation for the Owo Diocese followed the huge success recorded when the second session of the Seventh Synod of Ondo Diocese was held in Owo in 1972. Apart from this, Akure Archdeaconry had started to agitate for a Diocese. The people of Owo Archdeaconry felt that if Akure was granted a Diocese, it would be physically impossible for Owo Archdeaconry to be contiguous to Ondo. At the same time, Akoko Archdeaconry was also agitating for a Diocese. The people of Owo Archdeaconry advanced that, if Akoko was also granted a Diocese, Owo Archdeaconry would not wish to be an appendage. As matter of fact, Owo would not have seriously agitated for a Diocese if not for the last two reasons stated above. In March 1978, a delegation was sent to the Rt. Rev. E.O. Idowu, the then Bishop of Ondo Diocese to convey to him the desire of the people of Owo Archdeaconry to become an autonomous Diocese. The people sent were: Chief J.O. Fakorede, Mr. Olu Akingbade, Mr. D.A. Adedugbe and Mr. J.T. Adelehin. The Archdeaconry board met on October 7, 1978, with Owo, Ifon and Idoani District Church Councils ably represented by fifteen people. Mr. J. B. Omosule moved that a committee be set up to write an application for the creation of the Diocese. The motion was seconded by Chief J. A. Fajoyomi. The proposed committee members were: The Ven. J. M. Olokunbola, Rev. Canon J. O. Fabuluje (later Bishop), Chief J.O. Fakorede and the Rev. T. A. Oni.
The constitution, procedure, administrative and budgeting committees were inaugurated in February 1979. On March 23, 1979, the application written by the committees was rejected by Owo, Ifon, Idoani and the Diocesan Committee because:

  1. It did not include the crest of the new Diocese
  2. It did not show details of the financial account
  3. The application was not signed by the superintendent
    and vicars.

Ondo Diocesan Board A new application (Appendix 1) was presented to the Diocesan Board which met on Thursday, October 19, 1978. At the Board meeting the applications received from Akure, Akoko and Owo
Archdeaconries requesting to be created Diocese were read. It was resolved that a Committee be set up under the Chairmanship of the Diocesan Chancellor. Other members of the Committee were: The Diocesan Officials, The Archdeacons, 3 Representatives from each Archdeaconry and 2 Representatives from the Cathedral. The Committee was to examine among other things.

  1. History of the application
  2. Map of the physical extent of the Diocese
  3. Name of the Diocese
  4. Headquarters of the Diocese as agreed by the applicants
  5. Statistics
  6. Bishop’s house and office in photo
  7. Existing bank account and One year’s initial budget
  8. No. and Names of Archdeaconries, Districts and Parish
    Churches
  9. Crest for the Diocese and explanation
  10. Consent of the Bishop and the Synod
  11. The Cathedral. Owo Archdeaconry Application

The first application submitted:

Owo Archdeaconry
P.O. Box 4,
Owo
10th October, 1978.
The Secretary,
Diocesan Standing Committee,
P.O. Box 15,
Ondo.
Dear Sir,
Application for Creation of Owo Anglican Diocese
We the undersigned on behalf of all the District Church Councils in Owo Archdeaconry have been mandated by all the congregation in the Archdeaconry to apply for the creation of Owo Archdeaconry to an Autonomous Diocese within the shortest time possible. We are not unaware of the responsibilities that the creation would involve, and we are fully prepared to shoulder the responsibilities God being our Helper.
We are encouraged to make this application by the developments taking place in the Archdeaconry. As at now we have four very viable Districts and more Districts are in the making. Yours in Christ,
(sgd.) By the Representatives
of Owo Archdeaconry

Committee on the Creation of Diocese
The Committee held her inauguration meeting on December 22, 1978 under the chairmanship of Hon. Justice O. Akinkugbe, the Chancellor of Ondo Diocese. The Committee met on 24th January, 9th February, 23rd March, June 15, all in 1979. In the meeting of 15th June, 1979 votes were formally cast and it was unanimously agreed that the dioceses should be created. The Committee held her last meeting on the 10th January, 1980.
Committee Members:
(1) Hon. Justice O. Akinkugbe Chairman
(2) Barrister A. Fagbemi
(3) Barrister F.O. Akinsiku
(4) Chief B.A. Ogunduyile
(5) Very Rev. S.O. Fagbemi (later Bishop)
(6) Chief R.F. Fasoranti
(7) Rev. J.A. Olagbuji
(8) Ven. J.L. Akeredolu
(9) Ven. M.D. Oyinlade
(10) Ven. J.O.K. Olowokere
(11) Ven. J.M. Olokunbola
(12) Chief Olu Akinbobola Cathedral
(13) Mrs. M.T. Ariyo Cathedral
(14) Chief D.L. Akinnola Ondo Archdeaconry
(15) Chef C.O. Aiyela Ondo Archdeaconry
(16) Chief Mrs. E.A. Fagunwa Ondo Archdeaconry
(17) Chief N.K. Adamolekun Akure Archdeaconry
(18) Rev. Canon Dr. J.A. Omoyajowo Akure Archdeaconry
(19) Mr. J.A. Majasa Akure Archdeaconry
(20) Hon. Justice S.F. Adeloye Owo Archdeaconry
(21) Chief J.O. Fakorede Owo Archdeaconry
(22) Mr. E.O. Akingbade Owo Archdeaconry
(23) Mr. E.O. Olugboja Akoko Archdeaconry
(24) Chief Ade Adefarati Akoko Archdeaconry
(25) Mr. S.O. Olufoye Akoko Archdeaconry
The memo submitted by the Rev Canon Fabuluje opposing creation of dioceses was debated by the Committee on 10/1/80. (See Appendix 2 on page 302). Before the debate by the

Committee, the Chairman wrote to the Lord Bishop thus:

From: Hon. Mr. Justice .O. Akinkugbe
P.M.B. 5579,
Ibadan.
6th August, 1979
The Right Rev. E. O. Idowu,
Bishopcourt,
P.O. Box 25,
Ondo.
My Dear Bishop,
Creation of Dioceses
I received a submission from Revd. Canon Fabuluje, Principal Vining Centre, Akure, on the creation of more Dioceses in Ondo Diocese I notice that a copy each has been dispatched to Your Lordship and the Provost. I have two with me, may be one of them is meant for the Provost and I will send it to him.
Although Canon Fabuluje was not a member of the body considering the creation of Dioceses I am of the view that we cannot lightly brush aside his views for the following reasons:

  1. Normally a panel to consider such a matter should have consisted of not more than three or at most five members. The body will then invite submissions or evidence for or against from the Diocese after adequate notice shall have been given. The body that considered the creation comprised largely of those
    who wanted the Diocese so that one can hardly speak of balanced debate. If there is some dissentient views on the matter a comparative survey of the matter would then be considered.
  2. I think we have not been too rigid in the procedure on our deliberations. For instance Canon Dare acted as our recorder although he was not a member and Your Lordship’s Chaplain was present throughout to take notes. In the light of the above, I hope Your Lordship will not object if Canon Fabuluje’s views are considered along those of the members that attended the meeting.