Onitsha Central

Basilica of St. Andrew Church…the Journey So Far

Ven Emma.O.Ukpeke

Ven. Emmanuel Okechukwu Ukpeke

The man, Andrew, from whom this parish derives its name, was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. From biblical accounts, he was the son of a man called John. John, also known as Jonas, was a fisherman by occupation, and hailed from the city of Galilee in ancient Israel. Apparently, Andrew took after his father as a fisherman, in line with prevailing customs and tradition.

However, Andrew experienced a turning point in his life and business, especially after John the Baptist had introduced him to Jesus. Jesus called him immediately as one of His disciples, and subsequently, a fisher of men. Andrew never looked back afterwards. He, with the other Eleven, remained with Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. After Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection and ascension, Andrew remained among the twelve apostles who continued the ministry from where Jesus left it.

Specifically, he was reported to have taken the gospel to the riverine area of Scythia and environs. His ministry was also accompanied by signs and wonders. It was obvious that Apostle Andrew went about his commission with fervent zeal, just as his Master did. This could be seen in the successful turning of the once idolatrous city to the worship of the one true God through Jesus Christ. As his Lord and Master had predicted, the apostle went through a lot of persecution in the course of his ministry. This reached a climax with his execution by Anginas, the Proconsul of Achaia. He was crucified on a cross referred to as “Andrew’s Cross”. He was nevertheless given a decent burial by Maximillia, the wife of the very Pro-consul, who ordered his execution.

The apostle, Andrew, was also reputed for his kindness and generosity. He was said to possess charisma, and this endeared him to many people. The apostleship of Andrew was proved beyond all reasonable doubt. He followed closely on the footsteps of his Lord Jesus Christ, through preaching the gospel to heathen lands and bringing many souls to glory. He eventually put a seal on that noble ea II by paying the supreme price, just as his Lord did, in order to further advance the gospel of the kingdom. Apostle Andrew has left indelible footprints on the sand of time. He remains a role model for all generations. Through his exemplary life, commitment to the Lord Jesus and monumental contributions to the gospel, Apostle Andrew has shown that it is possible for a disciple to be like his Master in all things. The life and times of Apostle Andrew have provided the inspiration for the name of our parish; St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Odoakpu,Onitsha.

 Humble Beginnings:

St. Andrew’s Parish, Odoakpu started in the open field, as children’s service, in 1929. It then operated under the supervision of Christ Anglican Church, Onitsha. The first Church teacher sent to oversee its affairs was Mr. T. B. George. From the early stages, the parish exhibited the traits of the missionaries who set it up. It blazed the trails in the area of evangelism as well as the establlshrnent of schools and health centres. For instance, it established the then St. Andrew’s :Jrimary School (now Community School), Central School, Bishop Onymelukwe Secondary School and St. Andrew’s Nursery/Primary School as well as the Health Post, all in Onitsha, among others.

Since the first Church building was erected in the early 1950s, with the Rev. J. E. Chijioke, from Jmujabi, Oji River, as the first priest (1954L the parish has never looked back. Evangelism :::ontinued to remain its main focus. In orderto realize this Great Commission of our Lord; to live up to the name of our patron saint; and in line with the Anglican tradition, the parish has since established the following groups and organizations:

  • The Anglican Youth Fellowship,AYF
  • The Choir
  • The Anglican Children Ministry (formerly Anglican Store Boys Association and Anglican Prayer Association)
  • The Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion, EFAC
  • Men’s Christian.Fellowship, MCF (formerly Men’s Christian Association)
  • The Women Ministry
  • The Laity Council
  • Dorcas International Ministry
  • The League of Good Samaritan u The Girls Guild
  • Boys and Girls Brigade
  • The Anglican Boys Association, ABA
  • The Anglican Students Movement, ASM
  • Wednesday Prayer and Renewal Fellowship, Mount-Zion
  • Young Wives Fellowship
  • Church Welfare
  • The Guild of Lay Readers u Evangelists
  • Parish Mission Committee, (the major evangelical arm of the Parish).

In particular, the Parish Mission Committee oversees the following major outreach programme ofthe parish every year.

  • A 14-day Programme
  • Showers of Blessing
  • Septemberto Remember u Every Day with Jesus
  • Good Morning, Jesus
  • Beginning a New Month With Jesus

Other Activities:

In order to encourage dedicated and hard-working members of the Church as well as create role models, the parish instituted and inducted some of its members into the following Ezinne, Faithful Mothers, Vineyard Daughters, Ambassadors For Christ, Ada-Zion and Faithful Fathers.

The parish also has the privilege of having some of its members inducted as Knights in the Diocese.

To the glory of God and expansion of His kingdom on earth, the parish planted the following Churches:

  • Bethel Anglican Church, Ifite-Ogwari
  • Church of the Pentecost, Oranja, Omor
  • Peter’s Anglican Church, Obodo Oma
  • Andrew’s Anglican Church, Odekpe Igala (In the process of planting this church, the parish lost one of its members, the Late Mr. Chukwudi Adozue, of Ehime Mbano, through
  • drowning).
  • Monica’s Anglican Church, Woliwo.

These and others are proofs that the parish’s missionary/evangelistic efforts have not been in vain. We do not intend to relent on our efforts in this direction.

In the sphere of music, the parish parades three levels or grades of Choir, including the Super Grade. Each of these grades has been outstanding in their own respects. They have all, at different times, won laurels at the Archdeaconry and Diocesan events. Besides, the parish choir has been instrumental in training several well known choir master and organists in the Diocese and outside it. Clearly, St. Andrew’s Parish has come a long way.li has become a household name not only within the Diocese but also in the Church of Nigeria as a whole. Its revolutionary impact appears to have been felt in virtually all spheres, but not in its physical structure or edifice. It was only a matter of time before members were awoken or rather jolted to this reality. Like ths children of the ancient Israel, St. Andrew’s parishioners have dwelt on this ‘mountain’ (old structure) for too long. It was time to move on.

The New Edifice: The Vision.

basilica (2) - Copy

The vision for the erection of a befitting edifice for St. Andrew’s Parish, of the 21st   century, came in March, 2005, in a rather inauspicious circumstance. A seemingly harmless question, by a visiting bishop, to the then vicar, Venerable Andrew Ibe, ignited the vision. The bishop had asked “Is this the St. Andrew’s Church, which is being heard everywhere?” It was not certain what the bishop had in mind by asking the question to satisfy his curiosity, encourage the church to build a new structure or embarrass the vicar. However, one thing then became clear: the vicar was taken back. He was challenged. As the vicar later thought over this incident, the supposed embarrassment was, right before his eyes, transformed into a vision. A clear message had come: it was time for a new befitting millennium edifice to come on stream.

Having caught the vision, he chose to run with it immediately. At the next Parish Church Council (PCC) meeting, within the same week, he raised the issue and spoke of his conviction about the vision. Fortunately, like a vision that came in its timing, members accepted it. Again, when the idea was presented to the whole congregation, the following Sunday, it received an overwhelming acceptance. With this, the whole congregation ran off with the vision, the vicar assuring that the money for the project was already available. According to him, the money “was in our pockets”.

Following this approval, a building Committee was subsequently set up in order to see to the execution of the project. The Committee comprised the following:

  1. Sir Inno Amamchukwu Chairman
  2. Hon J. C. Ezeudegbunam (late) Vice
  3. Bro. Samuel Ilozuru Secretary
  4. Sir Sam Olikeze (late) member
  5. Sir Eddy Emedosi “
  6. Sir WillyOkpala “
  7. Sir Okwy M begbu “
  8. Sir Law Anozie
  9. Sir K.C. Onyekwelu “
  10. Chief Collins Obiukwu “
  11. Bro Chidi Ananaba ”
    12.  Bro Uche Ezeada                                                                     ”
    13.  Mr. Festus Maduebo (late)                                                       ”
    14.  Mr. Okey Okpalla                                                                     “
  12. Mr. Herbert Anoliefo Treasurer
  13. Mr. Tobenna Ezenwata         “

 The Committee was inaugurated on March 24th 2005, by the then vicar, Ven. Andrew Ibe. The Committee went to work immediately. Although this Committee witnessed few resignations and replacements including loss of some members through death, (For instance Sir Law Anozie replaced the late J. C. Ezeudegbunam as the vice-chairman, while Mr. Okey Okpalla replaced Bro Sam Ilozuru as the secretary), it remained largely intact until the completion of work. Architect (now Rev. Canon) Chuks Okoli had the privilege of drawing the building plan. The approval of the plan paved the way for the commencement of work in earnest, on the site. The foundation stone laying ceremony was performed by the Bishop on the Niger, the Rt. Rev’d Ken S. E. Okeke, on May 27th, 2007. It was during the time ofVen Obi Ubaka as the vicar. Chief Sir G. U. Okeke was the Chairman of the occasion.

Today, with the commissioning of this monumental millennia I edifice, the vision, conceived about eight years ago, has been translated into reality for all to see. To God indeed be the glory. In line with the approved plan, the edifice contains an auditorium, a gallery, modern multi­-dimensional underground hall, in addition to mini committee halls and offices. The project progressed through the tenures of three vicars; namely, Ven. A. I. Ibe, under whom it was initiated and who saw the work through to the roofing stage; the Ven Obi Ubaka, under whom the edifice was roofed; and the current vicar, Ven Okey Ukpeke, who has the privilege of seeing it through its completion and subsequent commissioning today.

Acknowledgements:

It is worthwhile to conclude this rather abridged history of the parish by acknowledging the various contributions of past vicars and other individuals, who contributed in one way or the other towards the progress and present status of the parish. Foremost in the list is the Most Rev’d (then Rev’d Canon) MSC Anikwenwa & his wife Mrs. Blessing (Nnediogo) Rtd., and his Team ministers who served as the vicar between 1975 and 1987. The then Canon Anikwenwa expanded the Church building, through the addition of two wings to the old structure. He also oversaw the erection of the two-storey building, which serves as a school block, within the premises of the church. He also transformed the Youth and Social Centre, from a one-storey to a three-story building. In addition, he was the force behind the acquisition of the piece of land on which St. Monica’s Parish, Woliwo, stands today. Also, worthy of mention is the late Ven. (then Rev’d Canon) E. E. Meoba and his wife Mrs. Esther) and his Team ministers, who took over in 1987. He takes the credit for the building of the staff quarters as well as instituting and elevating the Friday Class to its current standard. The parish is also indebted to Ven. (then Rev’d Canon) I. I. Ikele & his wife Mrs. Oby (Ejiamatu) and his Team ministers who was the vicar, from 1992 – 1998. His tenure also witnessed some landmark achievements. He initiated the establishment of St. Andrew’s Nursery and Primary Schools, and Bishop Onyemelukwe Secondary School which have become models in the Diocese. He ensured that the whole premises were covered in German-floor style. In addition, he oversaw the renovation of the vicarage thereby giving it a new appearance. Besides, the then Canon Ikele went further to acquire the first big bus for the Parish, the Men’s Christian Fellowship (MCF) bus.

The Parish is also grateful to the Ven A. I. Ibe, & his wife Mrs. Silvia (Ambassador), who was the vicar, from 2000 to 2006 and his Team ministers. The Venerable consolidated on the achievements of his predecessors. For instance, he hosted the Diocesan Synod in 2001. Ven Ibe initiated the new church building being dedicated today, executed the project to the roofing stage and also acquired the over ten plots of land at Creek Road, Fegge, for expansion purposes, even though it is now being used by St. John’s Parish, Fegge. Though the site was revoked by the immediate past state government for no justifiable reason. We immensely thank the state governor, Mr. Peter Obi, who graciously returned the land to the parish. We are grateful to you, the executive governor of Anambra State. The Parish is also indebted to Ven. Obi Ubaka & his wife Mrs. Amaka (Nnechinyere) and his Team ministers. He believed in continuity and perfectly continued from where his predecessor stopped. He raised the structure (St. Andrew’s Church extension) at Creek Road. Under him, the project at Creek road was roofed before it was ceded to St. John’s Parish Fegge at a paltry sum. It is, of course, unthinkable to leave out the incumbent, the Ven. Okey & his wife Mrs. Chinelo (Ada­zion) Ukpeke, and his Team ministers. Under him, the parish has acquired two plots of land behind the vicarage, for expansion purposes. The parish, under him, has also taken possession through purchase of seventeen plots of land at Orient Satellite Town, Nsugbe. It needs no mentioning that he has the rare privilege of overseeing the completion and subsequent dedication of the new edifice today. The list is virtually endless.

The parish remains indebted to those mentioned above, and others, whose names cannot be mentioned here, for their varying contributions in the making of St. Andrewis Parish as the acclaimed university of the Diocese. Nevertheless we will not fail to mention in a special way late Mrs. Cecilia Chinwude Okoli, ( Ezinne) popularly known as “Arch I”, who kept in her custody the documents of St. Andrew’s Church during the war including the Church Organ.

We thank God that today, the valleys are exalted, all the mountains and hills have been leveled, the crooked places have been made straight and rough places have been made plain.

Behold the monumental edifice which was done according to God’s vision and directives. Behold THE CENTRE OF EXCELENCE – TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

SUCCESSION OF PARISH PRIESTS  
01. REV.J. E. CHIJIOKE 1954
02. F.I. MBELEBEDEOGU 1955
03. D.I. OKECHUKWU 1956
04. D. N. UNEZE 1957-1962
05. C.U. OKPALA 1963-1964
06. CANON AGULUEFO 964-1969
07. J. E. OFOMA 1966-1967
08. S.O. UMEOBI 1968-1969
09. M.C. ECHENDU 1970
10. VEN C. N. EMELUGO 1971-1975
11. REV.C. N.C. EGWUATU 1971
12. J.PC. OKEKE 1973
13. M.M. ILECHUKWU 1974
14. D. E. ANENE 1974
15. CANON M.S.C ANIKWENWA 1975-1987
16. G. N. OKPALEKE 1975-1976
17. E.N.I. UDEZE 1976-1980
18. B.C. UNOKA 1978
19. J.E. AJAKOR 1979
20. I. I. IKELE 1979-1981
21. E. E. NDUKA 1980-1982
22. T. N. NZELU 1982-1984
23. J.O. MADUKA 1983-1984
24. D.E. EZECHUKWU 1983
25. A.I. IBEH 1984-1987
26. P.U.OKOYE 1985-1988
27. E. U. EZU 1985-1986
28. OBI .I. UBAKA 1986-1987
29. CANON E. E. MEOBA 1987-1991
30. F.C. NWANKWO 1987-1989
31. J.N.C. NKWOEMEZIE 1989-1991
32. S. C. OKOLlOBODOZlE 1990-1992
33. S. O. C. ONUIGBO 1991
34. OBI .I. UBAKA 1991-1994
35. CANON I. I. IKELE 1992-1998
36. J. U OKONKWO 1992-1995
37. A.C. NGAIKEDI 1994
38. OWEN NWOKOLO 1994-1995
39. P. O. J. ENWONWU 1995-1997
40. E. E. OBIEKEE 1996
41. S. I. OBASOANYA 1997-1998
42. M.O.EKWOSI 1998
43. CANON L. E. OBI 1999
YEAR OF NO CLERGY 2000
44. VEN    A.I.IBEH 2000-2006
45. V. N. OGBUAGU 2001
46. DAVE I. UDOEZIKA 2001-2003
47. I.F.O ODITA 2001-2005
48. ARTHUR NNALUE 2002
49. ALEX N. CHIJINDU 2003-2005
50. FRANKM.OBI 2004-2005
51.          “ IYKE IYIOGWUGWU 2005-2006
52. ENGR. J. ANYACHEBELU 2005-2006
53. DAVID EBELUNO 2006-2007
54. M.O.EKWOSI 2007-2009
55. S. U. UZODINMA 2007-2010
56. VEN. OBII. UBAKA 2007-2010
57. REV. DR. FRED NWACHUKWU 2008-2009
58. FRIDAY C. OKONKWO 2010-2011
59. SAMUEL EZEWUDO 2010 i “‘”
60. VEN. OKEY UKPEKE 2011-DATE
61. REV. I. OKPARA 2011
62. I. ONWUEME 2011-DATE
63. K. C. OKAFOR 2012-2013
..
64. CANON BEN. N.IKECHUKWU 2013
65. SUNDAYILOH 2013