Brief History of All Saints’ Chapel, University of Benin, Benin City
What is known today as the All Saints’ Chapel, University of Benin started about 1972 as an Ecumenical Pastoral Ministry, embracing all the Protestant groups in the University of Benin and the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, as well as the Federal Government Girls’ College, Benin City. Some of the early ministers included the Ven. Dr. Okolugbo and Prof. S. Olaitan.
From 1974, Professor S. Olaitan of the Department of Biochemistry, University of Benin took over the organization of the ministry. Services were held at the temporary convocation ground by the Faculty of Pharmacy and Priests from various protestant churches took turns to conduct services and administer the Holy Communion. This venue was shared with the Roman Catholic Church. Later, services were held in lecture rooms at the Faculty of Pharmacy, an arrangement that proved to be grossly inadequate because of space constraint. It was therefore, such a joyful relief when chapel application to worship in the main Auditorium was granted. The relief was, however, short-lived, for it was soon discovered that although the Auditorium was more than adequate for our growing population, it did not provide a conducive environment for divine worship. For example, Sunday services could only start after the cleaning of the hall imposed by such Saturday functions as weddings, all night dance parties, beauty contest, etc.
Late Ven. Dr. P. E. I. Nwabuoku, who was the Chaplain in-charge from February 1977 to April 1988, spearheaded the moved to build present Chapel. Thanks to his able leadership and the perseverance and contributions of members and friends of the Chapel, the old Chapel Hall was built in record time at a cost of over 1 million naira. In 1980, the Chapel was renamed All Saints’ Chapel and by 1985 we were worshipping in the old Chapel Hall. Soon after, however, it became obvious that with the growing population of the Congregation, a much bigger Chapel needed to be built. The efforts of Late Rev’d Aig Imoru and Rev’d Walter Ossai (Chaplain and Assistant Chaplain) from 1989 to 1991 in planning the building of the main Chapel were brought to fruition by Rev’d J. O. O. Babajide (retired bishop of African Church) under whose dynamic leadership the building of the main Chapel commenced. The Chapel building, however, suffered a temporary setback when the roof trusses fell. Rev’d Canon J. I. K. Ehizogie (now venerable) continued the work as acting Chaplain.
The building of the Chapel with the secretariat comprising offices, Library and Conveniences for worshippers and staff, prayer room and store proceeded to the final completion under the leadership of Ven. Solomon O. Makun as Acting Chaplain and later Chaplain. The completion of the main building created its own momentum which led to the renovation and extension of the old Chapel Hall at the cost of about 10 million naira and the erection of the Vicarage which was completed within twelve months at over 17 million naira under Ven. Solomon O. Makun as Chaplain.
It is a measure of the fast sightedness of the present leaders of the Chapel that a place of worship has been completed under the supervision of Rev’d Canon Prof. J. O. Oyedeji at Ekenwan Campus of University of Benin and to foster the holding of services at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital.
In addition to the Chaplains named above to whom the All Saints’ Chapel is immensely indebted, we recall with gratitude the spiritual contributions of the following Priests, who very willingly conducted our Sunday services over the years Rt. Rev’d Enuku (retired bishop of Warri), Late Ven. Woghiren, Rev’d Okolugbo, Late Rev’d Eyefia, Rev’d Tunde Adeleye (then Assistant Chaplain and now Bishop of Calabar), Rev’d Canon Azinge, Rev’d Nwankpa (now Methodist Bishop of Port Harcourt), Rev’d Dr. Joel Utomakili (former Assistant Chaplain), Rev’d E. Isuosuo (former Acting Assistant Chaplain by appointment), Rev’d Dr. Austin Unuigbe and Very Revd Prof. C. A. Ademoroti (a Methodist Priest).
The Chapel also pays tribute to both Late Bishop J. W. Idahosa and Late Bishop J. K. George, Bishops of the Anglican Communion, Benin Diocese for their fatherly guidance and cooperation over the years.
The foundation Stone of All Saints’ Chapel was laid on March 12, 1983 by the then Archbishop, Primate of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria, the Late Most Rev’d Timothy Olufosoye.
Today, over 1,500 Protestants worship at the All Saints’ Chapel. At present the Chapel have two services in the morning (7.00am Holy Communion and 10.00am Matins) and one service in the evening (4.00pm) on Sundays.
The Chapel counts it a great honour to be blessed with Ven. S. O. Makun (Chaplain), Revd E. A. Jackson (Asst. Chaplain), Ven. Prof. Mon Nwadiani, Ven. Prof. J. O. Oyedeji, Revd S. E. Ogbebor, Revd Barr. G. E. Okwezuzu and Revd U. K. Iwuozo as their spiritual leaders. They are serving the Chapel at the moment.
The Chapel motto is “Christ, the Corner Stone” and on Him alone, we will build.