Church in Nigeria sees membership boom

By the year 2030, The United Methodist Church in Nigeria expects to have more than 2 million professing members.

Over the past 10 years, the Nigeria Episcopal Area witnessed a 15 percent increase annually in church membership, and that trend is likely to continue, say United Methodist leaders.

The increase, said the Rev. Samuel Sule, director of evangelism and discipleship, “has brought the total statistics (to) 742,652 professing members and 900 churches of The United Methodist Church in Nigeria.

“With the current population growth in the country and the renewed interest in our board,” he said, “we are envisioning 18 percent annual growth rate in Nigeria between now and 2030.”

At that rate, said the Rev. Denis Obadiah, Taraba West District superintendent, “by 2030, we are going to have 2,079,425 professing members.”

The Nigeria Area Board of Discipleship and Evangelism recently offered evangelism and leadership training to help the church strategize for the next dozen years.

From 1984 to 2018, the church maintained a steady membership growth of more than 15 percent annually. During this time, The United Methodist Church in Nigeria expanded from one Muri Provisional Conference to four annual conferences, from 28 to 785 pastors, from 15 districts and 180 charges to 52 districts and 900 charges with about 162 preaching centers, and from 145,000 members to 742,652 professing members.

The episcopal area’s current membership number is considerably higher than what was reported to the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination’s finance agency, in 2016. According to the episcopal office, the Northern Nigeria Conference was underreported at that time, and that report included only three of the four annual conferences — the North East Nigeria Conference wasn’t established until 2016.

Situated on the western coast of Africa, Nigeria shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the south and borders Lake Chad to the northeast. According to the United Nations, Nigeria’s population exceeds 197 million, with a median age of 17.9 years.

The U.N. forecasts that Nigeria will overtake the United States as the world’s third-most-populous nation by 2050. Nigeria’s fertility rate is 5.13 children per woman, compared with 1.87 per woman in the United States. The most-populous country on the continent, Nigeria is known as “the Giant of Africa.”

“The current population growth in Nigeria is serving as a clarion call for The United Methodist Church … and its international partners to use this opportunity by coming up with plans that will boost the growth of United Methodism in Nigeria by 2030,” said Elizabeth Anthony, youth president of the Taraba Central District, who participated in the evangelism training. 

“Nigeria is a country with 36 states, plus the Federal Capital Territory,” noted Rimande Garba, a lay leader in Magami/Jalingo. More than 70 percent of the United Methodists in Nigeria live in the northeast, he said, “making the remaining parts of the country a potential ground for the growth of the church.”

Possible international areas of growth, he added, include Chad, Niger and Cameroon republics.

Rapid population growth, training participants learned, will affect various United Methodist programs such as evangelism and social services. Frequent crises with Boko Haram, Nigeria’s militant Islamist group, and tribal struggles prompt immigration from neighboring countries into Nigeria.

The Rev. Gloria Iliya Dogara, district superintendent of the Jalingo District, said the revived interest of young people in the church is signaling a bright future for United Methodism in Nigeria.

The United Methodist Church in Nigeria is living out its mission: to raise faithful and fruitful disciples of Jesus Christ who are passionate to transform the world through preaching, teaching and providing services that meet physical and spiritual needs.”

Emmanuel is a communicator for the Nigeria Episcopal Area.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE

Latest News

Mission and Ministry
Finda Quiwa (third from left), a United Methodist missionary, joins members of Finda Quiwa House at the May 2 Young Women's Gathering in Yonibana, Sierra Leone. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UM News.

Young women's program revived in Sierra Leone

Six years after shutting down in Sierra Leone, the Young Women’s Network is active again thanks to a donation by Discipleship Ministries.
Central Conferences
The Rev. John Pena Auta (foreground), provost of Banyan Theological Seminary, works on a computer in the new communications center in Jalingo, Nigeria. Seated next to him is Dan Krause, top staff executive of United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn. In the background are Tafadzwa Mudambanuki (left) from United Methodist Communications and Bishop John Wesley Yohanna of the Nigeria Episcopal Area. Photo by Danny Mai, United Methodist Communications.

New communication center aids learning in Nigeria

More effective global and local communication for United Methodist in Nigeria is the goal of new communications center.
Social Concerns
Salome Mudiwa, age 19, is a first-year student at Bindura University of Science Education. She is studying natural resources in Bindura, Zimbabwe.  Photo by the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, UM News.

Rural girls face challenges at city universities

Rural girls seeking education in cities in Zimbabwe are at risk if they take emotional or financial support from older men.