In a missonal sense and in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, all ministers called by God are on ‘interim’ assignment because we are all ‘a part of a succession or transition.’[1] The truth is that not every succession is successful but the succession from the founder, Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Rev Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi (1909-1981) to the current General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye (1981 till date) is a model of successful pastoral/founder’s succession and long-tenured leadership. Rev Akindayomi’s decision in obedience to God’s voice to pass the torch to Pastor Adeboye continue to inspire the church ‘from uncertainty of the future to anticipation of the future.’ In his monthly Holy Ghost Service message titled ‘Let there be light,’ at the June 2020 Holy Ghost night, Pastor Adeboye who is also the President of the Christ the Redeemer’s Ministries (CRM) ‘revealed that he had just spent two years in the church when Pa Akindayomi ordained him as a full pastor, noting that the action was unprecedented in the annals of the church.’[2]

Rev Akindayomi as the founder of the RCCG and in his humble way made God supreme in his decision, ‘broke all protocol’ by keeping his eyes fixed on the Lord of the church and not on the lords of the church to make Pastor Adeboye his successor. It may be very sad when ‘a minister guides a church to health but then destines the church to demise for lack of a succession plan.’ Beyond succession’s pedestrian causes like retirement, moral failure, transfer or church split, Rev Akindayomi under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit knew the difference between wants and needs of the church he founded. The original word from Rev Akindayomi to elect his successor was not by apostolic succession, democracy, ballot or election nor inheritance theory but ‘in submission to the authority God has set over’ the church at that time. Moses was an example of general transition principles found in the Bible who named his successor. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism in 1773 had designated John William Fletcher as his successor to continue the Holiness movement into the 19th century, but Wesley ‘outlived Fletcher. In 1784 Wesley beyond his initial pastoral and founder’s succession plan made provision for the governance of Methodism after his death through the Yearly Conference of the People called Methodists.[3]

To the glory of God, the church Rev Akindayomi founded survived the transition, and continue to thrive.[4] The history of the RCCG is the personal story of the founder, Rev Akindayomi, and his successor, the current General Overseer, Pastor Adeboye. The RCCG, one of the fastest growing Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) member churches in Nigeria and in the world started in 1952 with 12 members by Rev Akindayomi.[5]

Rev. Akindayomi, originally christened Ogunribido and Ogundolie was born into a typically Ogun (god of iron) worshipping family in Ondo town in Ondo State.[6] His search for God led him to be baptized by the Church Missionary Society in 1927. In 1931, his encounter with an elderly Cherubim and Seraphim (C&S) prophetess led to his dissatisfaction with the Anglican Church. In 1931 while Ogunribido was still a practising herbalist (Babalawo), he went to demand some money owed him by one of his clients. The situation later led to a negative exchange of words which attracted a C&S prophetess, and who tried to make peace. According to Olaleru’s account, ‘in frustrated annoyance Ogunribido released terrible vituperation on the peace maker, and later followed it up by supernaturally sending a snake to harm her.’[7]  In wonder and amazement of the failure of his curse because of the prophetess’s spiritual immunity, after some days, Ogunribido went to look for the C&S prophetess. Ogunribido later renounced all his ‘juju’ power, renounced his membership of the Anglican Church, and changed his name to Prophet Josiah Akindolie. 

Ogunribido’s (hereafter, Prophet Josiah Akindolie) spirituality and his new calling as an evangelist began to develop in the C&S. After his marriage in 1941 at Ile Ife, the young couple moved to Lagos and under the leadership of Prophet William Onanuga who took over from Prophet Moses Orimolade of the C&S, Ibadan, Street, Ebute Metta, Lagos. Prophet Josiah was made the head of the church’s Prayer Band. The death of Onanuga and some doctrinal issues between 1947-1951 forced Prophet Josiah Akindolie to start a prayer and Bible Study group called the Ogo Oluwa Prayer Society (The Glory of God Fellowship) at his house in Lagos. The accusation of ‘anti-church’ outside the C&S Order led to his excommunication from the C&S, and he stayed with Rev. Odunaike, the first General Superintendent of the Foursquare Gospel Church of Nigeria.

Through deeper Bible expositions, the Ogo Oluwa Prayer Society which was later changed to the Apostolic Church of Africa[8] found and received a practical understanding about restitution.[9] The church was given a new direction beginning with the personal restitution of its leader Josiah Olufemi Ogunribido Akindolie who changed his name to Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi: ‘Akindayomi was his grandfather’s first name which his own father too had earlier adopted.’[10] The second restitution was about his three wives. He made marriage restitution by retaining only the first wife.[11] Akindayomi, who could not read or write, in 1952 supernaturally received and wrote the name ‘Ijo Irapada ti Olorun,’ which was translated to mean, ‘Redeemed Christian Church of God.’[12] The early membership of the church included ‘CMS (Anglican Communion), Cherubim and Seraphim Prayer Band, United Native African Church, Methodist Church… Moslem….. Pagan converts.’[13] It is important to note that, ‘the parishes of the RCCG in the 1970s and early 1980s, later called the Classical Parishes, were the Holiness type of congregations with the posture of a pietistic movement … There was a strict dress code for all who came into the church’s premises.’[14]

Rev Akindayomi’s ministry was not confined to his church but maintained relationship with Pastor William Kumuyi, leader of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry (DCLM).  Pastor William, born on 6th June, 1941 was having problems on how to control the crowd at the Bible study meeting in his official flat.[15] Rev Akindayomi shared his church facilities for their meetings.  Rev Akindayomi also counselled Pastor Kumuyi on the need to adjust the nomenclature of his Fellowship, so as to include church, and the teachings about marriage which were downplayed in the Deeper Life’s doctrinal obedience to the doctrine of holiness. Pastor Kumuyi yielded, and this led to the birth of the church arm of DCLM, called Deeper Life Bible Church. Rev Kumuyi’s marriage on 13th September, 1980 to his wife, Mrs Biodun Kumuyi (nee Olowu) became a model of holy matrimony among his followers. Mrs Kumuyi passed to glory on Saturday, April 11th, 2009 and 18 months after her transition, Pastor Kumuyi married Mrs Esther Folashade Adenike Blaize in London, on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 and the official outing as husband and wife was on Saturday, October 24th, 2010, at The Trinity Church, Brentwood, United Kingdom.

It was Rev Akindayomi that laid the foundation of Pastor Kumuyi’s International Bible Training Centre (IBTC), at Ayobo-Ipaja, Lagos.[16] Rev Akindayomi’s evangelistic relationship was not limited to the Pentecostal churches within and outside Nigeria. He extended the relationship to the Established churches. In July 1977, Rev Akindayomi went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.[17] On his return he made a stop-over in Rome and had an audience with the Pope Paul VI.[18] The RCCG went through a schism in 1974 which was overcome before Rev Akindayomi died on November 2nd 1980 at the age of 71.[19] Rev Akindayomi, while attending an international conference in the United State of America had transferred his mantle of leadership to Pastor Adeboye ‘through that unforgettable prayer in America.’[20] Rev Akindayomi recorded his last words on his successor in an audio tape with a clear warning on disobedience to his instructions.[21]

Pastor Adeboye, born on 2nd March 1942 at Ifewara in Osun State of Nigeria was admitted into Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesa in 1956. He graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria in 1967 with a Bachelors of Science (B.Sc) degree in Mathematics. Between 1969 – 1975, Pastor Adeboye added two more degrees- M.Sc in Hydrodynamics, and a PhD in Applied Mathematics both from the University of Lagos. He was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lagos and Ilorin. Pastor Adeboye got married to his beloved wife Mrs Foluke Adenike Adeboye (nee Adeyokunnu) in 1967 and joined RCCG in 1973. He surrendered his life to Jesus on 29th July, and was baptized by immersion in September 1973 in Lagos.[22] Pastor Adeboye was consecrated the head of the RCCG at the age of 39 on the 21st of January, 1981, and chose the title, ‘General Overseer.’[23]

Pastor Adeboye took over from Rev Akindayomi with a total number of forty parishes, and opened a new chapter and new era for the RCCG in Nigeria, and the rest of the world. [24]  Among the features of the Pre-1980 RCCG Pastor Adeboye took over were the classical churches located at the back streets of Lagos and its environs and ‘the weekly crying service sessions earned the classical parishes the nickname of ‘Ijo elekun,’ meaning, ‘the weeping church.’ Pastor Adeboye faced some challenges of schism, for example ‘the doctrines and practices of the church alienated the youth; hence, the church became ‘a church of elderly people, a bundle of people who were in the main illiterates, people who were not educated in a modem way… The church was poor and for many years could hardly raise enough money to pay the meagre salaries of its clergy.’[25] Pastor Adeboye repositioned the RCCG, for example with the creation of the Model Parishes in 1988 (to co-exist with the Classical Parishes) with location in strategic places with musical instruments typical of the venues for the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI) meetings.

The first model parish was inaugurated in May 1988 at 1, Ladipo Oluwole Street, off Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja, Lagos with a Lawyer-cum Pastor Tunde Bakare, who originally introduced it as a young pastor at the Redeemed Church. The introduction of the Model Parish has given the RCCG ‘its meteoric rise.’ Pastor Bakare first visited the RCCG on the Sunday 4th March, 1984 when he had ‘encounter with Pastor Adeboye.’ According to Pastor Bakare, “I asked how we could reach the next generation and suggested that we should call this Model Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. The concept then was to have one Model Parish in every city. So, we did one in Lagos and we did one in Ibadan until 1 October 1988, when God said my time was up.”[26] The establishment of the second and third model parish was in Ikoyi in August 1989 and in Apapa, Lagos on May 5, 1991 respectively by Pastor Tony Rapu, a medical doctor by profession. One of the renewing network that shaped the spread of the RCCG’s model parishes is the home church fellowship. Many of the model parishes’ pastors as professionals who worked as ‘Tent-makers’ alongside their regular employment, planted churches in night clubs, cinema halls and restaurants christened with ‘unusual names like Jesus House, City of David, Courage Centre, Hope Hall and also named the London Holy Ghost service as Festival of Life.’ Other model initiatives include the first model school – The Redeemer International School, a financial institution – Haggai Institute, a drug addict’s rehabilitation, Hebron House, an outreach to area boys, a French church, and a hospital – House of Hope. Before Pastor Rapu later left the RCCG in 1997, ‘the RCCG’s model parish movement remained the renewal stream for the ‘unprecedented church-growth’ that transform the church. Pastor Rapu, now the senior pastor of This Present House Church, Lagos, ‘changed the face of the Redeemed Church by creating model parishes of the church targeted at the youth.’

Professor Yemi Osinbajo, a Senoir Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice under Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu after his encounter with Pastor Rapu joined the RCCG in 1993 and they grew the model parishes together. Before his inauguration as the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Osinbajo was the Pastor in charge of the Lagos Province 48 (Olive Tree provincial headquarters). Pastor Adeboye described Pastor Rapu as ‘‘…a great man of God…a man of awesome potential intelligence and who is articulate. A man who is passionately in love with God… If I have a thousand boys like Tony Rapu I will deliver the world to Jesus Christ in less than 5 years.”[27]

Another RCCG model parish church vessel is Pasto Ituah Ighodalo, a Pastor- cum-Accountant who ‘gave his life to Christ in 1993 and was ordained an Assistant Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in 1995, while in the City of David, Victoria Island, and became a full pastor in 2000, while Pastoring RCCG Christ Church, Gbagada.’ He left the RCCG and now the Pastor in Charge of Trinity House, Lagos.

The model parishes open wider doors to ‘mobile middle class men and women who crisis-cross Nigerian society’ and the elite groups who ‘became articulate carriers and conveyors of the church’s ideas and practices to different parts of the world.’[28]

I came to know Pastor Adeboye through one of my god mothers, Pastor Mrs Margaret Daramola, wife of late Pastor Elijah Daramola, a former Assistant General Overseer in charge of doctrines who died on Sunday September 22nd, 2019. Pastor Mrs Daramola and I were both teachers at Local Authority Primary School, Osu between 1981/1983. She took interest in me as a young Christian, praying together and I dare not resist her regular invitations to fellowship at the Redeemed Church, Isona, Ilesa, where I was able to meet Pastor Chief Samuel Olufisayo Ogedengbe and Pastor Adeboye. Please, permit me to say something about Pastor Ogedengbe, my revered mentor.

Pastor Ogedengbe born on the 24th of November, 1931 to late, Pa Gabriel Awoyanu and late Alice Otunla Ogedengbe of Iperindo now Headquarter of Atakunmosa East Local Government, Osun State. He was the last of “the legal Titans” of Ilesa Bar. He was admitted to Ilesa Grammar School in January, 1949. Called to both the London and Nigeria Bar in 1962, he was installed as the Alatorin of Itorin land in September 1971 until in died on 9th August, 2019. Pa Ogedengbe as a youth was the choir master of Methodist Church, Oke Ese, Ilesa till 1975 when he joined the RCCG. He was a Zonal Pastor and Coordinator of Elders Forum in Osun State until his death at the age of 88 years. As ‘the first Lawyer of the RCCG, he worked relentlessly with Pa Akindayomi till the Lord called him home and he continued with his predecessor, Pastor E. A. Adeboye the General Overseer, till he became old.’ Pastor Ogedengbe, a very strict disciplinarian, a philanthropist to the core, was passionate about education and community development. I came to known him personally, first through his daughter, my friend and colleague, when we were both primary school teachers in one of the towns around Ilesa in the 80s. My regular visits to Papa Ogedengbe at his house/office/library opposite Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesa, remains an inspiring reflection as my referred mentor, confidant, and a teacher in church history and evangelism.[29]

Pastor Mrs Daramola wasted no time to encourage me into the ministry but I always plea to allow me to finish my studies coupled with the excuse that I was committed to my Methodist local church in Osu. Pastor Mrs Daramola followed me up and I became part of the Daramola’s family. We lost contact for some time until 2003 when I was serving as the Chaplain, State House, Chapel, Marina, Lagos, during the tenure of His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Her Excellency Senator Oluremi Tinubu. Pastor and Pastor Mrs Daramola, serving then at the RCCG Headquarters, Ebute Metta were sent by Pastor Adeboye to share fellowship with Her Excellency Oluremi Tinubu. In the course of their conversation, Her Excellency mentioned my name as the Chaplain and our weekly activities at the State House Chapel. In excitement, Mrs Daramola said to Her Excellency, “I know Ayo” very well. Her Excellency later put Pastor Mrs Daramola across on the phone to me. At every possible occasions with Pastor Mrs Daramola and Pastor and Mummy Adeboye in attendance, Mrs Daramola would always say to Mummy Adeboye, “Mummy, e ba omo yin soro nipa ise iranse re” (Mummy, talk to your son, about his calling). Mummy Adeboye always respond saying “Leave Ayodeji, he is serving the Lord where he is.”

The annual Lagos State Thanksgiving Service at State House, Marina, was always an opportunity for me with Pastor Adeboye. On arrival at Marina, Baba always joined other Christian leaders to wait in the Chapel for the programme to commence. Before leaving for the venue Pastor Adeboye would request to use the small toilet in my office and that usually was my time to receive his blessing. Before I left Nigeria in 2007 for further studies, I visited Pastor Adeboye at the Redemption Camp, he prayed for me and said, “next time I will see you, there will be multiple testimonies in Jesus name.”

It is important to note the support received from Pastor Adeboye and his wife Pastor Mrs Adeboye especially towards the Methodist Church Nigeria evangelical programmes. The first and second editions of the Methodist Evangelical Conventions in 1994 and 1997 were held at the Redemption Camp. The quarterly Coming Alive, a 24 hours marathon prayer and fasting by Methodist Praying Partner were held at Redemption Camp. As the Chairman of the 2000 Methodist Evangelical Convention held at Methodist Village, Orimerunmu, the support from Pastor Adeboye and Mummy Adeboye were unquantifiable. Mummy Adeboye gave us free access to take as many as possible the wooden benches for use at the Convention in Orimerunmu.

Phenomenal growth and RCCG church planting spread under the leadership of Pastor Adeboye and his wife, and presently the RCCG has become the fastest growing Pentecostal Church in Nigeria, with millions of members, over fifty thousands parishes in almost 200 nations across the continents.[30] The growth and church expansion has led to a global and wider organisational structures in place with Assistant General Overseers (home and abroad). The innovative leadership of Papa Adeboye remains a model of a successful long-tenured leadership especially with the production of the daily Open Heaven devotional guide. The major programmes that are open to all Christians are the monthly Holy Ghost service and annual Congress. Others are the Christ the Redeemer’s Ministries, The School of Disciples, and ‘Let’s-go-a-fishing’ (the Easter and Christmas evangelical programmes).

A major landmark to the monthly Holy Ghost Service was made in 1998 when Pastor Adeboye organized an all night prayer meeting tagged ‘Lekki ’98 Holy Ghost Festival.’ The CCN estimated that over 4 million people gathered to pray with uncommon miracles in full manifestation. The programme has now been developed into a one-week event tagged ‘Holy Ghost Congress,’ that holds every year in December.[31] The Redemption Camp covering thousands of hectares, at kilometre 46, Lagos/Ibadan Express Road, is linked to the answered prayer of Pastor Adeboye’s birthday prayer request in getting a befitting place of worship for God. The name of the Camp, which is also residential and the venue for the all night monthly Holy Ghost Service and the Annual Holy Ghost Congress, has changed to Redemption City. The City, its evangelical and medical facilities are open for the use of other Christian denominations at different costs. The all night monthly Holy Ghost Service and annual Holy Ghost Congress could be aptly described as the major evangelistic initiatives of RCCG through Pastor Adeboye which has helped RCCG to increase in membership.[32] These events also serves as ecumenical gatherings because of the diverse denominational representations seeking miracles, signs and wonders. One of the important mission tools RCCG are the social media, a combination of cable and regular TV Channels, print and audio-visual. In September 2005, the first set of Redeemer’s University students from different denominational backgrounds but wholly owned by RCCG matriculated.[33]

Pastor Adeboye’s 40 years of leadership as the General Overseer of the RCCG has revealed some of the positive principles of church growth on the long-tenure of lead pastors. One of ‘the principle states that longer pastoral tenures are healthier than shorter ones.’[34] However, the warning is that ‘long pastoral tenure can actually hurt the growth of a church. The belief is that, ‘the first twenty years of a pastor’s tenure is quite healthy, but it is very rare for a pastor to lead a church through a third decade and beyond with vitality and growth.’ Pastor Adeboye continue to lead the RCCG through his fourth decade of leadership with visible growth and expansion. Lyle Schaller, a church consultant and a master of understanding church vision and leadership who died on March 18, 2015, at the age of 91, said, “The key variables in new church development are not location, location, and location, but visionary leadership, entrepreneurial leadership, and long-tenured leadership.” As we celebrate Pastor Adeboye on his 40 years in the leadership of RCCG, let us, sons and daughters of Pastor and Pastor Mummy Adeboye prayerfully take the warning from Schaller on succession. Schaller, said, “The larger the church, the longer the tenure, and the sharper the growth pattern, the more crucial is succession and the more difficult to work it out.”

In church history, change is hard just as ‘leadership succession can implode a church if not handled with extreme care and planning.’ The truth is that succession planning is good. Succession development is great. Skill sets can be developed that will help with succession, and that’s just as important as the implementation of the ‘plan’ but without prayer, plan may become pain. God that granted the divine right, direction to Rev Akindayomi to choose his successful successor is alive, let us arise and pray that in the fullness of time God will divinely direct Pastor Adeboye as he builds foundation for transition and succession on his successor. Beyond the relational and informal structure and other current models of transition that are practiced in denominations today including the “Apostolic Network” of neo-charismatic churches, that developed out of the House Church movement, let us pray that Pastor Adeboye and Mummy Adeboye will continue to keep their eyes and ears fixed on the Lord of the church and not on the lords of the church.


[2] Eyoboka, Sam in Home News-Nigerian Vanguard Newspaper, June 7, 2020

[3] Leadership lessons from John Wesley and successor John Fletcher –


[5]The Redeemed Christian Church of God 9th Holy Ghost Congress Programme: Heaven on earth, 11-16 December, 2006, Lagos, p. 7

[6] Olaleru, Olanike, The seed in the ground: The story of the founding of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (Lagos: Father of Light Publishers for Faith of Our Fathers Foundation, 2007), pp. 26-27

[7] Olaleru, The seed in the ground:, p. 34

[8] Olaleru, The seed in the ground:, p. 147

[9] The Redeemed Christian Church of God 56th Annual Convention Programme, Theme: Prince of peace, 4-10 August, 2008, Good Measure Advertising, Lagos, p. 8

[10] Olaleru, The seed in the ground:, p.65

[11] The Redeemed Christian Church of God 56th Annual Convention Programme, Theme: Prince of peace, 4-10 August, 2008, Good Measure Advertising, Lagos, p. 8

[12] Olaleru, The seed in the ground:, p.65

[13] Olaleru, The seed in the ground:, p.65

[14] Ukah, Asonzeh, Globalisation of Pentecostalism in Africa: Evidence from the Redeemed Church of God (RCCG) Nigeria, in IFRA Special Research Vol 1, pp. 93-112.

[15] Ojo, Matthews A, ‘Deeper Christian Life Ministry: A case study of the charismatic movements in Western Nigeria,’ in Journal of Religion in Africa XVIII, 2 (1988), pp. 147

[16] Olaleru, The seed in the ground:, pp. 140-141

[17] Olaleru, The seed in the ground:, pp. 160-161

[18], accessed on 5 Nov 2008

[19] The Redeemed Christian Church of God 56th Annual Convention Programme, Theme: Prince of peace, 4-10 August, 2008, Good Measure Advertising, Lagos, p. 8

[20] Olaleru, The seed in the ground:, p. 128

[21] Olaleru, The seed in the ground:, p. 128

[22], accessed on 5 Nov 2008

[23], accessed on 5 Nov 2008

[24] The Redeemed Christian Church of God 56th Annual Convention Programme, Theme: Prince of peace, 4-10 August, 2008, Good Measure Advertising, Lagos, p. 8

[25] Ukah, Asonzeh, Globalisation of Pentecostalism in Africa: Evidence from the Redeemed Church of God (RCCG) Nigeria, in IFRA Special Research Vol 1, pp. 93-112.

[26] How Pastor Tony Rapu started Redeemed Model Parishes,

[27] How Pastor Tony Rapu started Redeemed Model Parishes,

[28] Ukah, Globalisation of Pentecostalism in Africa:, pp. 93-112.

[29] NBA Ilesa Branch to hold Valedictory Court Session in honour of Late Chief Samuel Olufisayo Ogedengbe – Thursday 19th December, 2019, –

[30] The Redeemed Christian Church of God 9th Holy Ghost Congress Programme: Heaven on earth, 11-16 December, 2006, Lagos, p. 8

[31] The Redeemed Christian Church of God 9th Holy Ghost Congress Programme:, pp. 8-9

[32] The Redeemed Christian Church of God 9th Holy Ghost Congress Programme:, p. 8

[33] The Redeemed Christian Church of God 9th Holy Ghost Congress Programme:, p. 9