The Christian Council of Nigeria is a fellowship of Churches in Nigeria which believe in God the Father, revealed in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and are working together to promote the glory of the Triune God in the unity of the Churches and the realization of God’s mission in the world.
The council is the first ecumenical and faith-based organization founded in Nigeria in November 1929. It began in the south as a result of an informal meeting of a small group of missionaries from The Presbyterian Church, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican communion), The Methodist Church, The Nigerian Baptist Convention and The Salvation Army who met in Ibadan to discuss the line of action concerning the new educational law instituted to separate religion from education. The meeting is described as the first ecumenical attempt of the Churches in Nigeria had impact all over the country as Churches in the South spread to the North and as Churches in the North later joined the movement. As a result of the meeting, the government was prevented from enacting the law. This accomplishment reflected the power of joint action and one voice.
The council which started by a small group of missionaries from four churches had grown up that today we have fourteen member churches and seven associate members. The membership of the council span through The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria; The Church of Nigeria (Anglican communion), Methodist church Nigeria; The Nigerian Baptist Convention; The Salvation Army; The Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship); The African Church; United Evangelic Church; The First African Church Mission; The Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria; Lutheran Church of Nigeria; The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; The African Episcopal Church; Community of Christ Nigeria Mission Centre and United African Methodist Church Organization. The Council also have seven associate members as follow: Christ Church Beulah; Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA); Young Women Christian Association (YWCA); The Boy’s Brigade Nigeria; Student Christian Movement; Christian Education Advisory Council and International Bible Readers Association.
The Council is incorporated in Nigeria under the Companies and Allied matters act 1990. It principally carries on the functions of education, community and economic development; communication and advocacy; home and family life; church and society; research; missions and facilitation of World council of churches post graduate scholarships (in many areas of human endeavour obtained in any part of the world).
The council is also an associate member of the world council of churches (WCC) with the headquarters in Geneva Switzerland; All African Conference of Churches (AACC) with headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya; Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA) with headquarters in Togo and a founding member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Indeed, CCN and the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) founded CAN. Today membership of the Christian Council of Nigeria has grown to about 40 million (World Christian Encyclopedia. New York, OUP 2002).
At home, the Council is divided into zone using the country’s geo-political zones, while state chapters are created to ease administration. Each zone is headed by a chairman with other members of the executives. The zone and state operate with the Council constitution alongside their bylaws.
For effectiveness of the council and to provide a platform for the church to meet with the society outside the four corners of the church informed the decision to establish the study and research centres known as the Institute of Church and Society in three regions thus; Institute of Church and Society Ibadan; Institute of Church and Society Jos and Institute of Church and Society Arochukwu.
The mission of the council is to work towards the unity in one faith, common witness and Eucharistic Fellowship of the Churches in Nigeria and to facilitate and build the capacity of Member-Churches for a sustained Christian lifestyle, effective Christian witness and the God -ward orientation of the society”. While the vision is a united Christian organization that reflects the character and mission of Jesus Christ and the conscience of society for fullness of life for all creation”.
VALUE STATEMENT OF THE COUNCIL
RESPONSIBLE STEWARDS: we shall be transparent, virtuous and accountable in the use of all God’s resources, providing machineries for checks and balances and for being cost effective.
EQUAL PARTICIPATION: we shall respect the equality of all God’s people in all their differences and diversities and welcome the participation of all persons of whatever gender, ethnicity, nationality, or race as members of the council. We shall encourage the participation of persons with disability and respect people’s opinion and the separate and individual opinions of our members and Member-Churches.
ECUMENICAL BODY: we shall promote love, peace, harmony, justice and unity, being bound together in Koinonia in one Christian faith and witness, and in common humanity, committed to theological dialogue and sharing of resources with one another for the good of all creation.
ADVOCACY: we shall be diligent to observe trends of events in our society, commending, challenging and condemning as necessary and participating in courageous actions of intercession, justice and mercy to the glory of God.
EXEMPLARY LIFE; we shall regularly engage with the scriptures and with the reality of our context for clearer understanding of Christian virtues and seek to manifest them in all aspect of our lives in society.
FUNCTIONS OF THE COUNCIL
The council as a fellowship adopted the following functions:
- To promote the unity of Christian churches in Nigeria that worship one God in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and that accept the scriptures of the old and new testaments as sufficient in its teachings concerning salvation and as the supreme standard under the Holy Spirit, in all matters of faith and conduct.
- To act as a forum by means of which Member-Churches may consult together and, when necessary, make common statements and take common action(s).
- To act as a consultative body whereby, chiefly through its departments, the Member-Churches may work together in sponsoring projects or programmes of common benefits and interest.
- To generate such funds that will make for the realization of the Vision, Mission and Value Statements of the Council. These funds shall be used to run the council and establish such institutions that will make the council relevant to the needs of the society at large.
- To encourage ecumenical spirit in Member-Churches expressed in mutual respect and for cultural differences and sensitive to the inter-connectivity of all creation.
- To promote mutual understanding and renewal in unity, worship and mission, and encourage the active participation of Member-Churches, as well as for the good of the global ecumenical movement.
- Generally, to perform such other functions as will enable it to achieve its objectives.