United Missionary Church of Africa (UMCA) Chapel, Tanke, is one of the first of several churches (thereafter called ‘Chapels’) that grew out of the rapidly increasing population of the then United Missionary Society (UMS now UMCA) Theological College Chapel. The strategic location of the UMCA Chapel, Tanke, off the University of Ilorin Road has successfully paid off. It was to catch and draw most of its congregation from the University’s staff and students, and that has been realized now that many, if not most, of both staff and students live off the campus, in Tanke vicinity. However, two factors have stunted the expected success of this strategy.
(ii) The largely Muslim indigenous community depict the immediate catchment of the Chapel area.
(ii) The relatively fast turnover of both the staff and students has had an observable impact on the size of the congregation. Whereas rapid student turnover could be and was anticipated, that of the staff was not seriously reckoned with. However, in spite of this rapid turnover factor, the size of the congregation has steadied at just below 400 regular worshippers. The greatest effect of the rapid turnover is most observable in the fellowships of the Youths and Young Adults, where yearly variations occur not only in the contents (quality) but also in volume (number).
However, in spite of all the above, UMCA Chapel, Tanke, has continued to make strides and taken its rightful pride of place in the community of the churches in Ilorin, even in Kwara State. Though young in age — 21 years is not long in the life of a church — the church leadership has shown a maturity that cannot but be noticed and reckoned with by friends and foes. Three major factors/reasons can be adduced for this quick relevance and recognition.
(i) The Pastoral Leadership has not changed much since the inception of the Chapel over twenty one years ago. This is rare in Nigerian Christendom today, which has sadly largely followed the pattern of politics, where everybody wants to be a leader quickly. This stability at the helm of the affairs of the Chapel has helped to steady the course, preserving the original vision and focus of its being established.
(ii)There has not been any rancor at the said leadership level all these past 21 years and more! Long tenure of leadership often lead to disagreements, not even necessarily due to (though sadly often the reason) aspirations to leadership.
(iii) The early wisdom at leadership level to work in cooperation and unity with the sister chapel (Chapel of Redemption, Gaa-Akanbi), resulting in the establishment of some joint programmes, has been another great stabilizer. The “countenances” of the two Chapels have “sharpened” each other (even as irons), and shaped at least three great Joint Programmes/Projects, viz (a) Missions (b) House fellowship and Chapel Secondary School.
The Chapel has PRESSED AND MOVED ON, UPWARDS TO THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FELLOWSHIP GROUPS. These groups have thrived and grown in size and in contents (spiritually and socially). The many spiritually dimensioned programmes and the increasingly rich and enriching social interactions have sweetened and stabilized the lives of many members. Members’ celebrations (and challenges) have become those of the various fellowship groups, sometimes involving the whole church. The vibrancy in each fellowship group is turning the whole church more and more into one unified church under Christ in every situation of life and experience. Members look out and care for each other, copying (but yet moving forward) the early churches’ experience. It must be this sweet bond that is responsible for many members who, after they have relocated elsewhere, still keep in touch and contact with the home base, the church, and her programmes and progress.•
The Chapel has also PRESSED AND MOVED ON, UPWARDS IN THE AREA OF ADMINISTRATION, physically and organizationally. The Auditorium Building has constantly been receiving face lifts, especially in the addition of an Administrative Wing, Church Furniture and the Facade. The whole of the grounds has also been beautifully landscaped: the complex (which also has been constantly physically improved) is now very attractive. The Administration, especially as pertains Accountability, Hierarchy and Discipline, has also been streamlined to make for efficiency and effectiveness. The Chapel has MOVED ON UPWARDS, in the area of ORDINANCES also. In contrast to a few sparsely dispensed wedding ceremonies of some years ago, there is now an average of a wedding per month with about a quarter of them held in the Chapel. The Holy Communion is served more often now resulting in greater awareness and expectancy of the Lord’s soon return
His grace will continue to be with His congregation and as a congregation our Love shall be for the Lord Jesus Christ.