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A HISTORY OF FULL GOSPEL CHURCH OF GOD (1950-2010) THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
BACKGROUND TO STUDY
European activities in Ibibio nation were primarily economic throughout the 400 years of slave trade. The Europeans failed almost completely to make any impact on the social life of the people of West Africa except in the old Calabar where the negligible European impact was the evolution of the pidgin English which later became the language of business1. There were no strict changes in the social and political institutions of the people. That is, the people were still polygamous and still offered human sacrifices to their ancestor2.
Following the abolition of slave trade, various Christian churches began to make their way to West Africa, one of these being the Roman Catholic Mission. The Christian religion came to the Ibibio area as far back as 1846 when Reverend Hope Waddell and the Presbyterian mission came to Calabar. In 1953, the missionaries baptized their first convert and in 1872 ordained the first indigenous pastor3. However, the mission concentrated on evangelising with little or no attempt to reach out to other areas. The inability to expand was partly due to the opposition of the coastal middlemen to the penetration of Europeans into the Ibibio hinter-land and partly due to the shortage of manpower. The evangelical penetration of the cross river in particular was pioneered by Mary Slessor who opened up the Itu and Ikot Offiong Presbyterian Stations4. In 1887, Mr. S. A. Bill arrived at Ibeno on the mouth of the Qua Iboe Mission and in Conjunction with Mr. Bailie opened up the Qua Iboe Mission there in 18905. The western and central Ibibio sub-groups, which includes the area under study did not come in contact with the Europeans until about 1902 and Christianity did not come to this area until 1919 when Weslay Methodist Mission was established in Ikot Ekpene, followed by the Qua Iboe Mission in 1920, the Catholic Mission in 1925 and the Lutheran Mission in 19366. From that time onwards, a number of missions had sprung up.
In 1951, Full Gospel church of God came to Nigeria through an invitation a missionary group led by Reverend Richard Spurling. They arrived at Utu Abak for their missionary work but left for Abak Itienge to establish Bible Study centre. The essence of this research is to examine the evolution of full Gospel church of God in Nigeria, and its impacts since her establishment.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Missionary activities at its early stage in Nigeria aimed at preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as well as putting an end to slave trade. These missionaries were used by their home government to open up the interior part of Nigerian for explorations. Instead of refraining from these activities they rather introduced means of combating with several odds the continent presented them with.
Social amenities such as schools, hospitals and road were for the benefit of the missionaries. For instance, school was just to learn how to read and write for the purpose of communication, road network linked only areas that trade would be carried out. These agents of western civilization influenced social, religious and to some extent economic aspect of the people.
The essence of this project is to identify those key areas of the culture of the Abak people’s that has been influenced by the church and also the achievement of the church since its establishment.
OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The main aim of this research is to find out how full Gospel Church was established in Nigeria. To achieve this aim; the following constitutes the objectives of this research.
- To examine the evolution of Full Gospel Church of God in Nigeria.
- To analyse the growth and development of Full Gospel Church.
- To assess the impact of the activities of Full Gospel Church of God in the Socio-economic and religious development of Abak.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research work on the evolution of Full Gospel Church of God will be significant in a number of ways:
- A documented version of the Church history, will serve as a source of enlightenment and by so doing, this study will helps to answer the question on how the church was established.
- It will serve as a point of reference for other research work. As it will provide relevant information for future review of the history of Full Gospel Church of God.
- It will stimulate further investigation about the church and will act as a base from where people who wish to carry out more research on this topic will equate from.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION
Scope and limitation refers to the time and geographical limitation of the study.
The geographical scope of this work covers the National Headquarters of the Full Gospel Church of God situated at Abak Local Government of Akwa Ibom State. While the scope spans from 1950-2010.
However, this work was not completed without certain constraints. For instance, a great number of resource persons who could have provided useful information for the writing of this work were alleged to have passed away, the non-availiabity of written records, tight schedule of informants, which made it impossible for them to keep to appointment, the inability of the informants to be objective. Nevertheless, the information collected was integrated into a coherent historical narrative.
In the course of writing this work the researcher relied on primary and secondary sources. The researcher primarily relied on oral tradition and Oral history for the completion of this work. Oral tradition according to Jan Vansina in Okon Edet Uya, African History: Some problems in methodology and perspective are “all verbal testimonies which are reported statement concerning the past”7.
Some of the secondary sources employed include: books, Journals, magazine, Sunday school quarterly, minute book, official document and the internet retrievals.