The History of Christianity in Ikono
The cultural heritage of a people is often valued though with interjection of other forces of change. One of such forces is religion which is an immensely important dimension of a society. Religion may amount to some aspects of culture becoming sublime. This made the impact of Christianity on the culture of any society relevant and worth studying. The influence of education and Christianity on the culture of Akwa Ibom people cannot be overlooked. In Ikot Obio Atai/ Ibiaku Itam community in Itu local government area of Akwa Ibom this impact is obvious. Over a century of civilization and urbanization has brought about great influence of education and the domiciliation of Christian religion.
Though the indigenes of the area still adhere graciously to their age long traditions and cultural practices into the 21st century. But cultural adaptations and influence of Christianity on the culture are unequalled.
The aim of this study therefore, is to trace the history of contemporary church to the positive impact Christianity it has made in Ikono and challenge her to follow suit in community developments. Christianity came from foreign lands to preach the gospel in the soil of Africa and met some physical needs of the community thy visited. Although, they are being criticized constructively for their nefarious agendas like slave trade, racism and exploitations, their achievements in terms of community development cannot be thrown away. The contemporary church seems to be losing attention in this aspect of the gospel.
THE ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY IN IKONO
The first Church that brought the Gospel to Ikono was the Apostolic Church Ikono. It started as a result of prayer meeting led by an Ikot Ekpene Cobbler, Henry Udofia. In 1935 18 they became a church as soon as Chief T. S. B Inyang who had retired from the civil service and returned home joined the prayer group. They continued to hold their service in Udofia’s house until when they have the present site which was donated by Chief Inyang. The church is now an Area Headquarter. The First Century Gospel Church also came to Ikono in 1937 through William Eakin Udo Ema, a former member of Qua Iboe Church, Ikono (Ekere,1998:63-65).
Udo Ema was attracted by Pastor A. Clark’s faith-healing Ministry. Pastor A. Clark was the founder of the Church in Philadelphia USA. He was regularly sending them material and other helps. Another Church that came to Ikono Town is the Methodist Church of Nigeria. This church according to Iwok Tom during an interview conversation started in 1960 (Ekere, 1998:65). Another source, Mr. Monday Thomas Nkan who was also one of the founding members disclosed that the Church started around 1962. This Church came about through David Udo Udo, Effiong Umo Etuk, Smart Essien and others too numerous to mention here, as a result of a crisis in St. John African Church, Ikono.
The History of Christianity in Ikono
Equally, the First Baptist Church of the Nigeria Baptist Convention. The First Baptist Church Ikono started on 28th October, 1962 at Chief Jackson Akpan’s residence, Ikono. On 6th November 1963 the First Baptism took place and over twenty converts were baptized. The present site of the Church was donated by Chief Jackson Akpan. The Church is one of the fast growing churches in Ikono Town. There are other Churches that came to Ikono later.
Ikono which is the cradle of Ibibio were introduced to Christianity through the work of early missionaries in the nineteenth century. Samuel Bill started his work at Ibeno. He established the Qua Iboe Church which later spread places in the middle belt of Nigeria. The Methodist Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and Presbyterian Church rode into the Ibibio hinterland. Later, day churches were also introduced, for e.g. The Apostolic church, independent churches, like Deeper Life Bible Church, came into the area in the second part of the twentieth century. Today Ibibio people are predominantly Christian area.
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