I welcome you to the website of the Diocese of Calabar, Anglican Communion. The diocese is spiritually dynamic, united and disciplined. It is committed to pragmatic evangelism, social welfare and epitomizes the genuine love of Christ.
This site provides you with information on the activities of the diocese; I pray that as you go through our pages and commit your life to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ, the almighty God will shower His blessings on you.
To the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, and now, and for all eternity. Amen.
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A HUMBLE BEGINNING: In the early years of the twentieth century, Calabar was proclaimed the capital of Southern Nigeria under the provisions of the Southern Nigeria Order in Council of 1899. In view of its new status, many Nigerians including the Igbo, Yoruba, Bonny, Opobo and other Niger Delta tribes; as well as several West African tribes such as those from Sierra Leone, Ghana (former Gold Coast), Gambia and Liberia, otherwise referred to as “Native foreigners”, came to live and work in Calabar in large numbers.
By profession, many of them were civil servants or private company employees or businessmen and women. In terms of their religious faith, they belonged to the protestant denomination and were mainly members of the Anglican or Methodist churches. As there was no Anglican or Methodist church then in Calabar, they preferred to worship in the nearest protestant church then in Calabar, that is, the Duke Town United Free Church of Scotland, which later became the Duke Town Presbyterian Church, Calabar.
There, services were conducted in Efik language but later, the non-indigenes in the church and those often referred to as “Native foreigners” caused an English church section of the church to be created to enable them worship in English language. The church services in the English section of the church were conducted by Rev. Dr. A. W. Wilkie, the head of the United Free Church of Scotland in Calabar. In May 1906, Calabar ceased to be the capital of Southern Nigeria but retained the status of the headquarters of the Calabar Province created that year. All went well until 1908 when, Rev. Dr. Wilkie accused the Native foreigners of being a bad influence on the indigenes of the church. He also called them “drunkards”. The so-called native foreigners of the church were aggrieved.
They felt insulted by Rev. Dr. Wilkie for no just cause and in a Christian spirit, demanded an unqualified apology from him. Rev. Dr. Wilkie refused to tender the apology. Their reaction was sharp and uncompromising. They then took at least seven measures which later made them the founding fathers of Anglicanism on the Cross River.
First, they formally severed their connection with the United Free Church of Scotland.
Secondly, they organized themselves as a group which embraced non-Nigerians and Nigerians who were non-indigenes and formed a new religious congregation in Calabar.
Thirdly, they secured a temporary place of worship, that is, the ground floor of the storey building of the late Chief Egbo Bassey at Boco Street, Cohbam Town, There they held regular divine services.
Fourthly, they appointed a Lay Preacher, Pa J. F. Osho, a Yoruba and then Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Calabar Division.
Fifthly, they named their church, “The Foreign and Native Pastorate Church, Calabar. Thus, from the beginning, the name of the church was made to be as close as possible to the then Nigeria Delta Pastorate with which the congregation was in touch.
Sixthly, it was agreed among members of the new congregation that the new church should strive to secure a suitable parcel of land for a permanent site of the church and a school. The church had some difficulty in securing a suitable parcel of land at a convenient site to serve as its permanent site, provide for a school, Pastor’s house and other facilities at a strategic location. Eventually, the members applied to late Prince Bassey Duke Ephraim ix (his effigy is at the Egerton – Calabar Road round about) for support and assistance. The Prince graciously granted to the new Church, the whole parcel of land which forms the premises of the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral Church, Calabar, the school behind it and the field adjacent to Bedwell street, Calabar. He granted the land as a ninety-nine year lease at the rate of one shilling annually, payable when demanded. There is no record until now that the money was ever demanded or paid. In addition, the Prince donated to the church, the big church bell which is still being used until today. In order to ensure adequate space for church workers, the church had to acquire an additional parcel of land adjacent to the leased land to accommodate the Catechist House.
Seventhly, thus equipped, members of the new church had to make a formal resolution to have their church properly constituted. The resolution was recorded as follows: This body having been duly formed, constituted, established, resolved:- That all the several denominations, Anglicans, Methodists Baptist, Free Baptist, Methodist Church, Niger Delta Pastorate, Basil Mission, combined and emerged into the Anglican Communion under the Episcopacy of the Anglican Mission known as Niger Delta Pastorate. Copies of the resolution were forwarded to the Bishop in Lagos, published publicly and used to support the name of the new church “Foreign and Native Pastorate Church, Calabar. It also enabled the members to apply for license and registration and to raise funds as a voluntary organization.
Eighthly, the next practical step taken by members of the new church, was to raise funds for building a new church at a permanent site. An appeal for funds was launched. Funds began to flow into the church. A new committee was set up with Late Beccles Davies as President, S. M. Reffex as secretary and Solomon K. Benjamin as Treasurer. These gentlemen were charged with the duty, among other things, to raise enough funds for the new church building and direct affairs in most expenditures in a manner to ensure that a church building, a parsonage, a Catechist house and other facilities were constructed and completed before the end of 1911. The new church committee began to work in earnest.
Ninthly, as soon as funds were raised, work on the new church building was started. The first sod of the new church building was turned on its permanent site and a foundation stone was laid on 7th January, 1911 by the Provincial Secretary – W. F. W. Fosbery, C. M. G. He was accompanied by the Venerable Archdeacon D. C. Crowther, Pa Hugh Macauley officiated during a brief service to mark the great occasion; the establishment of the first Anglican Church on the Cross River. The work on the new church building was carried out with courage, untiring zeal and commitment. As was expected, the church building was handed over the same year, that is, 1911. The ceremony of a formal handing over of the church was performed in the church that year and the Niger Delta Pastorate then under the Rt. Rev. James Johnson took over the church. He was represented on the occasion by Rev. Hugh Macauley and the Ven. Archdeacon D. C. Crowther. On the same day, the new church was renamed, “Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Calabar”.
Rev. Hugh Macauley, then the Principal of Bonny Government College was posted to Calabar temporarily to help to lay a solid foundation of missionary work in the area. Late F. M. Renner who was later ordained as Rev. Renner, was posted from Bonny Government College, where he was serving as a tutor, to take over permanently from Rev. Hugh Macauley. From then onwards, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, began to make a quiet but steady progress. It celebrated its first Harvest Thanksgiving in 1912 amidst great jubilation and gratitude to God. Since then, the church has always celebrated its Thanksgiving Service annually.