The story of a church affords us the opportunity to see how God protected and preserved His people from the beginning to the present day so as to bring about the sure accomplishment of God’s redemptive purposes in Jesus Christ. The story and testimony of the Chapel of Christ the Light (Interdenominational), Alausa, Ikeja is about how God works in mysterious ways especially through committed Christian civil servants. For me to write about the history of the Chapel invites us to see through those acts of Christian commitment, selflessness, Christian unity and walk of faith by the likes of Christian men and women especially in the Lagos State Civil Service that God used. No church is born in a vacuum. The story of the Chapel is spiritual and historical in character, dealing with real people in real places in real time (Luke 2:1-2).
The Chapel as a ‘vision’ and abiding legacy of committed Christians in the Lagos State Civil Service is to promote and provide practical and biblical advice from a Christian worldview for serving and living Christian faith in the midst of an increasingly corrupt and secularized system and religion. The quest to have a common place of Christian fellowship by the Christians in the Lagos State Civil Service just as the Muslim community were given a common place in the Old Secretariat points to the emergence of Chapel of Christ the Light, (Interdenominational), Alausa, Ikeja. The interdenominational initiative was not about forming another church but a platform of greater mission cooperation, research and renewal among Christians and churches in Lagos State. Regardless of denominations, the acts of community, kindness, unity and charity acted as the unifying forces among the civil servants.
On a positive note, after long consultations between the State Government, the Christian, and Muslim representatives in the service of Lagos State, in 1982, ‘some parcel of land were allocated to the Christian and Muslim communities within the secretariat complex for the building of a Chapel and Mosque respectively.’ On the Christians part, a Committee was set up under the chairmanship of the late Very Rev Kayode Cadmus, the then General Manager of Lagos State Assurance Company. The late Mrs Aiyelokun served as the Secretary to the Committee. Among the ministries and departments represented on the Committee as members were: Governor’s Office, Office of the Secretary to the Military Government and Head of Service, Ministry of Information, Sports, Youth and Social Welfare, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Works and Transport. All Christians in the Civil Service voluntarily made financial contributions for the smooth take off of the Chapel project until substantial support came from the government.
When the late Very Rev Cadmus became the Resident Commissioner of Lagos State for the National Electoral Commission, Mrs Adefemi Abeke Taire took over the Chairmanship of the Chapel Committee in 1985. Mrs Maureen F I Bakare succeeded Mrs Taire in 1986 when she left for further studies at the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kure, Jos, Plateau State. Rev J M. Dansu took over from Mrs Bakare. Rev Dansu tenureship was very eventful and developmental especially with the massive support received from the then Military Governor of Lagos Sate, Gen Buba Marwa. The Chapel Committee in partnership with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) adopted a design by Messrs Darchi Work Group for a seating capacity of over a thousand and was able to save enough money to construct the Chapel Hall to serve as Sunday school and Event hall. The launching of the Appeal Fund and Turning of the first sod of the Chapel took place on the 26th April, 1986 at the old site of the proposed Chapel (opposite the Lagos State House of Assembly complex) under the then Military Governor of Lagos State, Group Captain Gbolahan Mudashiru who was personally present.
In 1989, the construction of the Chapel on its permanent site was awarded to Messrs. TAAD Construction Company ‘at a cost of N2, 255, 109.05 and the foundation laying ceremony was performed on Saturday 22nd April, 1989 by Most Rev Dr Olubunmi Okogie, the then Catholic Archbishop of Lagos and a former CAN President. The foundation was laid under the then Military Administrator, Col Raji Rasaki,’ who ‘was personally in attendance.’ Massive help were received from the administrations of Col Raji Rasaki, Sir Michael Otedola, and the then Col Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The Administration of the then Col Mohammed Buba Marwa made the difference. Col Marwa magnanimously approved and released fund for the completion of both the Chapel and the Mosque in the Secretariat.
His Eminence Sunday Mbang, successor to Archbishop Okogie as CAN President, and Prelate emeritus, Methodist Church Nigeria dedicated the Chapel on Thursday 25th March, 1999, during the administration of then the Colonel Mohammed Buba Marwa, military administrator of Lagos State.
It was during the tenureship of Venerable Kayode Odusola who succeeded Rev Dansu that the Chapel became more functional. The Lagos State Government through the Chapel Committee requested from churches in Lagos State to volunteer a minister for the day to day running of the Chapel. It was only the Methodist Church Nigeria that responded by sending the Rev Deji Okegbile. After going through the scrutiny of the Chapel Committee, Rev Deji Okegbile was appointed as the pioneer Presiding Chaplain and the Four Square Gospel Church later sent Rev Adekanbi, a lawyer by profession as Chaplain. Rev Deji Okegbile and Pastor Adekanbi were both welcome and inducted in August 2000. The appointment was with N7,000 and N6,500 as monthly allowance for the Presiding Chaplain and Chaplain respectively. The understanding was that the Chaplains were not Government employee hence, the sending churches were responsible for their monthly stipends and accommodations. Pastor Adekanbi went back to his local church after the induction and Pastor Engr Omuruan was sent by the Four Square Gospel Church to replace him.
In August 2000, the Chaplains resumed to the welcoming hands of the Lagos State Civil Service Christian Fellowship under the then leadership of Brother Tunde Onatuga, a brother and friend indeed. Till date, the pastoral and leadership structure of the Chapel continue to develop with the voluntary commitment of new worshippers. Pastors Deji Koko and Fakoya (late) brought into the Pastoral team and the Chapel in general their gifts and talents for the smooth take off of the Chapel leadership ministry. While Pastor Deji Koko served as the interim Secretary for the Chapel Management Committee, Dr Moritiwon served as the Vice Chairman with the Presiding Chaplain as the Chairman. Bro Olumide Fusika, now a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Bro Babatunde Awosika, the famous Tunde Thompson (with Nduka Irabor both of the independent Guardian newspaper imprisoned in July 1984 by the military government under a controversial press decree and were released on Sunday 3rd March, 1985) were also part of the leadership/Constitution drafting team. The then Sis Moriyike Ogunjimi now Mrs Makinde served as the Choir leader while Mrs Tunde Thompson served as the Treasurer. Among other leaders in the early stage of the Chapel were the late Pa Adeisa, late Engr Kusimo, late Engr Mrs Owulade, Pa Odunlami, the first organist, Baba Abatan, Rev Mrs Awe, the Irumundomons, Fagbelus, Nsitems, Akinyemis, Ladipos, Jerry, the Sexton, Sunday, the Secretary, and Mbong, the Youth leader. Engineer ‘Lana Odutola, the then Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Mrs ‘Ranti Odutola, Mrs Alaja-Browne, Mrs Helen Irumundomon, and Bro Olumide Fusika were honoured as Choir Patrons. In the early stage of the Chapel, though few in number but strong in heart and commitment, the foundation for the vicarage was laid by Venerable Odusola and developed to the roofing level within two years. Among the early confirmed members of the Chapel include Mr Wale Edun, a former Commissioner for Finance, Lagos State.
The Chapel, under the oversight of the Ministry of Homes Affairs and Culture received support especially during the administration and leadership of His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his wife, Her Excellency Senator Oluremi Tinubu. It was also during the administration of His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that the Lagos House Chapel, Marina, was completed and dedicated for use for the residents and staffs in the State House, Marina, Lagos. The Chapel provided chaplaincy support during the Lagos armoury explosion and the mass burial when the accidental detonation of a large stock of military high explosives happened at a storage facility in the city of Lagos, on 27 January 2002.
Special thanks to Mr O Lamidi, Mr Sunny Ajose (and his wife), former Chief of Staff and Head of Service, Mr Adesegun Ogunlewe, former Head of Servcie, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Alhaji Tunde Balogun former Commissioners, Jawando, Mrs Aduke Thorpe, Olusegun Oyefule, late Alhaji Rafiu Tinubu, Morgan Abayomi, Mrs Agbeke Ogunsanwo, Olabiyi Adekoya, Mrs Durosinmi Etti, late Mrs Idowu Shonubi, Mrs Ranti Odutola, Engr Oshodi, Mrs Oguntuase, Mrs Benson, Mrs Oladimeji, Mrs Aromire Bello, Mrs A A Olusoga, Mrs O A Balogun, O A Olabenjo, Mr Senayon A. Hundeyin (former, Permanent Secretaries), Mrs Akamo formerly of the Christian Pilgrims Board, and Mr Lekan Ogunbanwo of the Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation.
The administration of His Excellency Babatunde Fasola (SAN) also supported the development of the Chapel especially through the regular attendance of his wife, Her Excellency Abimbola Fasola. The former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Senator Olorunninbe Mamora, during his tenure mobilised Christian legislators in the House to support the purchase of the first electric generator used by the Chapel.
Based on the recommendation and request by the Lagos State Government to the Methodist Church Nigeria, the three year tenure of Rev Deji Okegbile was extended for one more year. In January 2004, Rev Funsho Awe from the Anglican Communion and Rev Mike Ayo-Obiremi from the Baptist Convention resumed as the Presiding Chaplain and Chaplain respectively. Rev Mike Ayo-Obiremi took over as the Presiding Chaplain in 2007 with the late Rev John Olusola Tanimonu from the Anglican Communion as Chaplain. Rev Tanimonu succeeded Rev Ayo-Obiremi as the Presiding Chaplain in 2010 with Rev David Veralls from ECWA as Chaplain. Rev Veralls succeeded Rev Tanimonu as Presiding Chaplain in 2013 with Venerable Femi Taiwo from the African Church as the Chaplain. Rev Taiwo succeeded Rev Veralls as the Presiding Chaplain in 2016 with Rev Ayo Oyadotun from Methodist Church as Chaplain. The tenure of Venerable Taiwo was abruptly terminated on Monday, May 15, 2017 by the Lagos State Government under the administration of His Excellency Akinwumi Ambode. Rev Oyadotun took over as Presiding Chaplain with Venerable Ezekiel Oluwadare as Chaplain from the Anglican Communion. It is important to note the massive facelift that the administration of His Excellency Ambode added to the Chapel and the Mosque in the Lagos State Secretariat respectively. The prayer is that the new administration of Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, will support the mission of the Chapel.
After 20 years, the Chapel, founded upon Scriptural holiness and unity is called to continue to be as people of God on mission and renewal in Lagos State. God has sent His people to complete His mission by making disciples who make disciples in Lagos State and Nigeria in general. The inspiration from the witnessing and united legacy of the past and present members of the Lagos State Christian Civil Service and the worshipping community in the Chapel calls us to a renewal of our united mission of rescuing the perishing.