In Nigeria today there is a proliferation of liberal churches preoccupied with issues of prosperity rather than eternal salvation. Such churches have become relevant because of the old fashioned way of traditional churches that scold their congregation every weekend for not living righteous lives.
The orthodox churches over the past decade and half have had to grabble with the problem of mass exodus of their members to the new churches. In Northern Nigerian the most dominant churches have been the Evangelical Churches of West Africa (ECWA) and the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN). They have conducted their activities in Hausa, the most spoken language in the northern region of the country for more than one hundred years. The threat of the new generation churches have now spurred them into starting English branches in an effort to hold on to the younger generation of their flocks.
The Cherubim and Seraphim
him Church of Christ was founded by Prophet Moses Orimolade Tunolase at Ikare in the present Ondo State in South Western Nigeria. In recent time, the church too has become preoccupied with the strong desire for relevance to potential members. While the repulsion of younger members of the ECWA and COCIN churches have come as a result of the desire for sermons in English a symbol of modernity and to move away from conservative preachers with modest education, the Cherubim and Seraphim in addition to similar problems is generally misconstrued as a church that practices a hybrid religion of Christianity and a traditional African religion. The exotic elements of the church that have kept away potential members are the exclusive use of Yoruba and the manner of worship that bears the semblance of a traditional practice. Members most wear white garments and a red girdle. They must also leave their footwears at the entrance of the church. The church has also been associated with children wearing matted tubes of hair commonly referred to as dreadlocks.
Though the church later spread to other parts of the world after it was founded in the Southwest, its Nigerian congregation has largely remained Yoruba. In 1925 when it was founded the only religions were the diverse forms of African voodoos. In South Western Nigeria, there were practices like the worship of sango (god of thunder), ogun (god of iron), esilouku (god of water), etc. Members of the early churches in black Africa as a whole were either animists or former members of traditional religious groups. Changing from a traditional African worship to a church was a mere change of the Supreme Being that was been worshiped. The posture for asking for favour, forgiveness or exultation of the Supreme Being may not have changed much. It was difficult to draw a distinct dividing line between the traditionalist and Christians. Thus the only way the semblance of traditional Yoruba practice could have been expunged from the church would have been through converts from other tribes or through later generation of educated members.
The right to wear whatever one chooses to a place of worship has led to flamboyance in church and the distraction from the primary reason of going to church. Thus a homogenous costume takes care of that problem and explains why the cherubim and Seraphim insist on white garments for all members during worship. When Moses was to receive the Ten Commandments, the voice of God instructed him to remove his sandals, as the place where he stood was holy. In this regard members of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church most leave behind their shoes at the entrance of the church. The issue of Children with dada, as the hairstyle is known in Nigeria, are however not exclusive to the C and S Church. When such children are born the church seeks for guidance through prayers. The decision to cut the hair or not follows a revelation that come as a respond to the prayer.
In view of the threat of modern churches the Cherubim and Seraphim have resorted to efforts to keep their congregation. They have not only embarked on the education of the general public to understand the actual nature of the church but have also resorted to the establishment of English branches to hold on to their children as members and attract people from elsewhere. If the church must succeed in its campaign, it must also renounce the use of white garments and allow members to come into the temple with their sandals. Majority of today’s Christians don’t go to church for the word and are thus not prepared for any regimentation.