Johnathan Ekong attended a Bible school of the Qua Iboe Mission in the 1920s and served as an evangelist. After the Ibesikpo group left the Qua Iboe, they commissioned Ekong to find a mission church in the U.S. while he was there getting his higher education. At Immanuel Lutheran College in North Carolina, Ekong connected with the President of the school, Rev. Henry Nau, who urged the Synodical Conference of North America to choose Nigeria for its first mission to Africa. Dr. Nau went to the field to get things organized in 1936. By the next year, Dr. William Schweppe arrived in Nigeria to serve as the head of the mission. Churches, schools, a worker-training school, and a hospital were opened. The resulting Evangelical Lutheran Church of Nigeria grew to tens of thousands. After the ELS and WELS broke off their fellowship with LCMS, the Lutheran Church of Nigeria chose to remain partners with LCMS. In 1969, a group of nine churches and three pastors in the Otoro District broke from the Lutheran Church in Nigeria and formed Christ the King Lutheran Church of Nigeria in what is now Akwa Ibom State. WELS and CKLCN declared mutual fellowship in 1981.
As early as 1936, Missionary Nau traveled by river and road to establish contacts in and around Ogoja. In 1991, a group of churches in the Ogoja area of Cross River State stepped away from the Lutheran Church of Nigeria over doctrine and practice. They incorporated as All Saints Lutheran Church of Nigeria with three pastors and one trained evangelist. Ogoja is an agricultural city at the north end of Cross River State, about 200 miles inland from Calabar. All Saints congregations lie in the city and to both the southwest and the southeast (drawing near the border with Cameroon).
All Saints went solo for eight years, thinking that their 21 congregations were alone in the world, but in 1998, the leader of All Saints discovered a CKLCN church in Calabar. CKLCN and WELS representatives visited All Saints in 1999. They shared and discussed doctrinal papers in a five-day meeting later that year. CKLCN and ASLCN declared their fellowship in January of 2000. After more meetings in Ogoja, WELS officially declared fellowship with All Saints Lutheran in 2001 with the agreement that All Saints would receive no operational subsidy from WELS.
Even so, benefits came to All Saints right away in 2001 when its pre-seminary and seminary students moved to the campus of Christ the King Lutheran Seminary for the school term. All Saints has been blessed with one graduate pastor in 2004, seven in 2008, and seven more in 2015. All Saints has been blessed with a number of humanitarian grants from WELS Christian Aid and Relief and some from the Antioch Foundation.
All Saints purchased property in Abakpa, just beyond the southwest edge of Ogoja. The first building there for a synod office and meeting space was dedicated in July 2014. That same year, All Saints had added a two-bedroom parsonage and a pure water borehole. In August 2016, the synod dedicated a dormitory for the incoming inaugural class of All Saints Lutheran Pre-seminary. Twelve students moved to campus to start two years of study.
The synod is also blessed with an active Social Welfare Committee and All Saints Rural Health Services volunteers. The Rural Health group has built and opened a clinic and pharmacy in Woleche, southwest of Ogoja, adding to their volunteer work serving the rural public with public health lessons and basic health screenings.
Two representatives of All Saints attended the African Regional CELS conference in Lusaka in 2012. The synod president attended the regional meeting in Lilongwe in 2015. For 20 years to date, efforts to secure visas for Nigerians to attend the larger international CELC conferences have been denied by host countries. Finances also limit efforts to attend.
No WELS missionary lives in Nigeria. The WELS non-resident missionary, D. Weiser, will retire in June 2017. WELS is calling a replacement, who will be missionary to both Nigeria and Cameroon.
Church Body Statistics
Established Congregations: 26
Mission Congregations: 12
National Pastors: 12
National Evangelists: 2
Trained Lay Preachers: 25
Current Church Body President: Rev. Simon I. Orem
All Saints Lutheran Church of Nigeria
P.O. Box 683
Cross River State, Nigeria
Mobile Phone: +234.812.574.1257
Mobile Phone: +234.805.899.0491
Rev. Sunday Orim
Mobile Phone: +234.803.756.9490
Pastor Douglas Weiser
Nigeria mobile: 011.234.810.153.1235