Cathedral History

History of Archbishop Vining Memorial Cathedral Church

Archbishop Vining Memorial Church, Ikeja, started as an amalgamation of two worship centres of expatriate and Nigerian civil servant each of which was an offshoot of St. Saviour’s Church Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos (as it was then known).

The two worship centre were an Ikeja magistrate court building and an office space at the Southern Police College, Ikeja, across the road where Nigerian Police personnel and many recruits worshipped. That congregation was truly inter-denominational, comprising members from Anglican, Methodist Baptist and Apostolic denominations.

The Anglican Diocese of Lagos quickly saw in those congregation the vision of a dynamic growth-oriented church and had even before the merger in 1964, posted visionary pastors like Rev. A.May, the Rev Yinka Olukide and Reverend Payne to officiate as visiting priest came on an ad hoc basis from other denominations.

Some of the foundation members of these two groups were Pa J.A.James and family Mrs. S.M. Odukwe and family, Mr. F.O.Ogbu and family, Mr Akinjobi and Family, Mr. A. A. Bassey and family, Chief B.B.Oluwu family and Chief N.E Ogundana and family, Mr J.I Iyun and family and Dr. Sofunde and family. Many of them are now dead.

The early interest shown by the Anglican Diocese of Lagos encouraged these worshippers to initially name that amalgamated worship centre.  “The Anglican Church, GRA, Ikeja”

But later on recommendation of the Rev. canon Yinka Olumide to the then Bishop of Lagos, the Rt. Rev. Seth Irunsewe Kale, while the foundation of the first church building was laid on February 25, 1968, the church was officially name Archbishop Vining Memorial Church, Ikeja.

Why was the church called Archbishop Vining Memorial Church and who was Archbishop Laslie Gordon Vining after whom the church is named?

The early visionaries saw the enlightened inter-denominational and cosmopolitan congregation and location of the church within the elite Government Reserved Area of Ikeja with the adjoining industries as indices for rapid growth which would be further stimulated by a catalytic name that should be magnetic. Very many Nigeria who had occupied commanding heights in government, business and hospitality of Archbishop Leslie Gordon Vining and so, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the church was named after this enigmatic archbishop.

 

Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Ikeja, was named after a holy and humble man of God, a charismatic and magnetic leader loved by both young and old, a born evangelist who had  a wonderful flair for making and keeping friends. Is it any surprise therefore that its church feels impelled to live  up to the high standards of her mentor?

The retired Primate and Archbishop Metropolitan of Nigeria and Archbishop of the then Province I, the Most Reverend (Dr.) Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye, uniquely occupies the privileged position of being the last priest ordained Gordon Vining and has taken an unparalleled interest in the nature and dynamic growth of his church since he became Bishop of lagos in 1985.

It was during the Rt. Rev. Adetiloye’s reign as the Bishop of Lagos, that Archbishop Vining Memorial Church became the seat of Ikeja Archdeaconry in 1990. The church continues to play a leading role in provincial and diocesan programmes. It hosted the conference on “The church of the 21st Century” for all delegates from Lagos Diocese in 1996 and the 5th general synod of the Anglican Province of Nigeria in September 1996 and January 1997.

This church has successfully sponsored the missionary Diocese of Minna For five years and continue to offer evangelical and financial assistance to that doicese. The retired primate has constantly said that the best is still in store for Archbishop Vining Memorial Church and the vision of the ascendancy of Archbishop Vining Memorial Church as a cathedral before long is certainly not misplaced.

At this stage the following prayers for the church by the retire Right Rev. Festus Segun(now of blessed memory) at the dedication of the present church building in 1986 elicit critical appraisal:

  1. “That Archbishop Vining Church, Ikeja may serve as God’s vessel for transformation and renewing the people of God not only in Ikeja Archdeaconry but worldwide”.

In proclamation and teaching of the gospel and spiritual healing in His name continue to receive the emphasis of the clergy and laity in the church. For instance the AVMC came second in a “Carnival for Christ” pageant, in Lagos Diocese in 1998.

  1. “That the church may continue to grow in faith, love and prayer becoming more and more a living church for the worship of God”.

In this connection the social Welfare Ministry, the Hospital Visiting the Counselling Ministry and the Praying Band vigorously aid the daily worship in the church. The vigil held monthly and the mid-day prayer  held daily and the mid-week Holy Communion service add power to more and more worshippers.

 

  1. “That the worship  in the church will be: the submission of our nature to God: the quickening of conscience by His Holiness: the purifying of the imagination by His beauty: the opening of the heart to love and the surrender of the will to His purpose”.

This is part of the mission that the Publication Committee is now achieving through the re-launch of the evangelical organ of the AVMCC now renamed ‘The AVMCC Christian Outlook’.

 

The Most Rev Lesliee Gordon Vining

The Most Rev. Lislie Gordon Vining, CBE, Archbishop of West Africa since 1951, died at sera last Friday on his way home to England. He was 70 years old and had been unwell for some time

Archbishop Vining began his life’s work when he left the National Provincial Bank in London as a junior clerk. An elderly lady invited him to begin a Bible class at Ealing and it was probably at this point he felt his call to the ministry. The Bible class has grown considering since then. It has produced 10 bishops and 40 or 50 other priests.

A legacy enable him to go to Cambridge University. He graduated at Emmanuel College in 1910 and, after a year at Ridley Hall, was ordained to an assistant curacy at St. Gabriel’s, Sunderland. From 1915 to 1918 he served as a chaplain in the forces, and was twice mentioned in dispatched. After the war, he came vicar of an important parish in Bristol (St. Alban Westbury Park) where he remained for 20 years.

Twice he was offered service a broad in West Africa by Archbishop Lang, but refused it. Finally in 1938, the Archbishop said that he was not asking him but appointing him Assistant Bishop  on Niger.

In 1940, Vining became Bishop of Lagos and it was then that he felt a real vocation for the work. His capacity from making friends was the foundation of His ministry.

There could be few bishops who were so bellowed. None would hesitate to seek his advice He said: “Through him all men must be drawn to Christ.” That was his guiding principle and no decision would ever be taken without the most careful and prayerful thoughts. The Bible says ‘By their fruits, we shall know them.

 

A tribute to the Most Rev L.G. Vining

Archbishop Vining passed from us 25years ago. He exercised a unique influence upon the church in this country In gift and in the direction of his activities, he played a wonderful role in his deep human sympathy, his width of outlook, his prophetic in sight, his burning zeal and his tireless devotion to the course of God’s kingdom.

By his incessant and self – sacrificing work, he wore himself out before his time. The range of Archbishop Vining activities was large and varied. He was a pastor of souls and a leader in social reform. He was a holy and humble man at heart, as well as a born leader of men; he was not only a prelate but also a father in God, a shepherd of souls and a ruler who governed by love.

His sympathy, not less than his power of leadership, gained for him a great influence with the soldiers in those days with the result that he won many of them to our Lord. His master passion, indeed, devotion to God in Jesus Christ and our Lord’s prayer, “That they may be one”, supplied him with the supreme course to which, with entire self-sacrifice, he dedicated his splendid power of mind and spirit. He was an apostle of unity.

Among the youth of the country, his influence was deservedly great and his activities among the Boys’ Brigade was wholly in accordance with his mind. We appreciate everything that has been done at the time to remember him and his work, first as assistant Bishop of Lagos and ultimately as the first Archbishop of the church of the Province of west Africa.

We shall never forget his great sense of humour. But, “He being dead yet speaketh” – (or may we not rather say) He being with Christ in paradise, yet inspires us and prays for us.

If we have lost the joy of his visible presence, we gained the power of his intercession.

Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral is a just and befitting edifice in his memory.

  • The above tribute by the retired Primate, the Most Rev. Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye, incidentally the last priest ordained by the Most Rev. Vining, is culled from a brochure produced by the AVMC in May 1986 at the dedication of the present building of Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral.