Native Baptist Church
Agbebi was an active participant and virile evangelist of the Christian faith who professed beliefs on how to incorporate Christian doctrines in African Cultures.
The Native Baptist Church as it was initially called was formed in 1888 by the first African Baptist pastor, Moses Ladejo Stone. Stone was born into a family which was undergoing financial struggles and he later grew up as a peon while Agbebi, who was initially known as David Brown Vincent was born into a Saro family thought to be from the Ekiti area of Nigeria.
The Native Baptist Church was created as a result of a split from the Southern American Baptist Mission in Lagos. Prior to the split, the result of missionary efforts in Nigeria after about 50 years had led to the creation of an African Christian community in some areas of Southern Nigeria with a capable Baptist preacher and leader developed after the exit of Baptist missionaries from Nigeria during the American Civil War and the Abeokuta Ifole. After the exit in 1863/1867, Africans and an African American missionary, J.L. Vaughan were left to lead the Baptist mission in Nigeria until 1875 when American missionaries returned. However, the returning foreign missionaries were accused of having colonialists mentalities and for trying to turn the African church and congregation into a dependent church. In 1888, Pastor Stone was dismissed by an expatriate missionary who was unapolegetic about the action and commented that he could dismiss Stone as any of his servants. Agbebi who was then affiliated with the Baptist Academy was later dismissed for supporting Stone. They later collaborated in founding an African independent church. However, a Yoruba association led by Mojola Agbebi was formed in 1914, it was basically a merger of the two Baptist Churches in Lagos under an African leadership.
Some of Agbebi's reformist acts can be categorized as the contextualization of Christianity in Africa. Stemming from the need of Africans to lead the missionary effort of a Christian inter-cultural message that can be imbibed into the African setting and developed or nurtured by Africans. He was not interested in seeing Africans act as passive recipients of the transmission of the Christian faith but as active participants in the growth of Christianity in Africa. (1)
As an individual Agbebi Agbebi practiced a subdued living style, eating sparingly, and personally insisting on a vegetarian diet of no pork, no smoking and no drinking, a system he tried to imbibe in the church's congregation. Because of his belief in the evils of the liquor trade, he demanded the exclusion of alcohol in the holy communion.
In terms of foreign support, Agbebi accepted organizations whose intentions was to lend support without disrupting the growth of the African Church and without him compromising his principles. He linked with the African Training Institute of Colwyn Bay, the institute was comprised of philanthropists and African church lovers and was intended to train African youths in medicine, engineering, farming and in evangelism with the intention to carry on with the message of Christianity. Among students trained by the institute included Ayodeji Oyejola.
- (1)Hazel King. 'Cooperation in Contextualization: Two Visionaries of the African Church: Mojọla Agbebi and William Hughes of the African Institute, Colwyn Bay', Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 16, Fasc. 1 (Feb., 1986).
- (2)Emmanuel Ayankanmi Ayandele. 'African Historical Studies'.