The Christ Apostolic Church is distinctly an indigenous African Church. By its structure, belief and practices, it is an independent Pentecostal Church.
The history of the Church is traceable directly to Oba/Pastor Isaac Babalola Akinyele, Pastor David Ogunleye Odubanjo, Joseph Sadare, Miss Sophia Odunlami and Evangelist (late Apostle) Joseph Ayodele Babalola who was called to the ministry by the Lord on 11th, October, 1928. Apostle Babalola’s call subsequently led to the great revival of 1930.
Before then, there was the 1918-28 Faith Tabernacle era characterized by the formation of praying groups’ such as the Precious or Diamond Society found in small pockets all over Nigeria. The brethren in control were Joseph Sadare (a.k.a. Esinsinade), D.O. Odubanjo, I.B. Akinyele (late Olubadan of Ibadan) and Miss Sophia Odunlami. Majority of the members of the first group of Diamond Society were worshipers at St. Savior’s Anglican Church, Ijebu-Ode, where they began meeting regularly for prayers and spiritual guidance in 1918. Mr D. O. Odubanjo soon developed contact between members of the ‘Praying Band’ and Pastor A. Clark, the leader of Faith Tabernacle in Philadelphia, USA. through correspondence and receipt of tracts and magazines such as ‘The Sword of the Spirit’.
Soon, tension rose between the group and the Anglican Church over such practices as divine healings, opposition to infant baptism, reliance on dreams and visions, abstention from dancing, drumming, debt-owing, drinking of alcohol, gambling and mixing with non-Christians. Mr Joseph Sadare was compelled to give up his post in the Synod and others were forced to resign their jobs and to withdraw their children from the Anglican School.
But in less than a decade, branches of the group had been established in Lagos, Ibadan, Ilesa, Oyan, Ile-Ife, Minna, Jos and Zaria. Their members had also imbibed reliance on the power of prayer, divine healing and the All Sufficiency of God.
Fortunately, the Great Revival of 1930 with Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola as its medium, emerged in July 1930 at Oke Ooye, Ilesa. Those who assisted him during the Revival included D. O. Odubanjo, Oba I. B. Akinyele and J. A. Babatope as well as Babalola’s followers such as J. A. Medayese, A. O. Omotoso, John Oye, J. B. Orogun, and Philip Mabigbade among others. Prophet Daniel Orekoya later on came to the scene.
The Great Revival did not only embrace all the beliefs accepted by the Faith Tabernacle group, but also went further by embracing the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual manifestation of seeing visions, prophesying, speaking in tongues and dreaming.
Consequently upon this, people with diverse deceases were healed in thousands and, in turn, they spontaneously rejected their “juju” and other medicines. Massive revivals hitherto unknown in Nigeria ensued. Thousands of people surrendered theirs lives to Jesus.
Meanwhile the Church leaders were subjected to avoidable intimidations, harassment and humiliation at different levels of the society. So, on their behalf, Mr D. O. Odubanjo sought co-operation with British Apostolic Brothers in Bradford, England. Thus on 23rd September, 1931 three missionaries, viz. Pastor D. P. Williams, A. Turnbull and W. J. Williams arrived in Nigeria as guests of the Church. In November, 1931, the visiting missionaries ordained the first seven Pastors of the Church who had earlier on been ordained by proxy by Pastor A. Clark in America.
Three of the new Pastors namely, Pastor J. B. Sadare, D. O. Odubanjo and Oba I. B. Akinyele later came to play important roles in the growth of the Church. After the return of the white Missionary delegates to Bradford, Pastor George Perfect and Prophet Idris Vaughan came to Nigeria on 22nd June, 1932 to strengthen the band of fellowship between the two religious badies. For a time, the religious activities of the white brothers complemented the religious exploits of Joseph Ayo Babalola.
From the side of the Nigeria, the hope that the partnership would mitigate, if not totally eliminate, their untold sufferings and persecutions became an illusion. The partnership, however, staggered for a decade before it crumbled during 1939/40 crisis. As a result of the disagreement over the issue of “Divine Healing”, two groups had emerged. The pro-European group was led by Pastor S. G. Adegboyega while Apostle Joseph Babalola, Pastor D. O. Odubanjo and Pastor (Oba) I. B. Akinyele led the Nigerian Group.
Over the time, God revealed to Apostle Ayo Babalola to name the Revival Group “APOSTOLIC CHURCH”. About 1939, the Church changed its name to NIGERIAN APOSTOLIC CHURCH. This name was again changed to UNITED APOSTOLIC CHURCH until 1942 when God specifically revealed that the name of the Church should be CHRIST APOSTOLIC CHURCH. It was thereafter that the name was registered as No. 147 of May 4, 1943, under the Lands Perpetual Succession Ordinance.
During the decades 1940-1960, the CAC was subjected to a series of strain and stresses. Stiff opposition came from the detractors of the Church including some of the orthodox churches, most government officers, some Obas and high chiefs and even evil forces. There were also problems of internal administration, inadequate training, recruitment of unqualified Church personnel and weak finances.
However, the following factors later tilted the pendulum in favor of the Church; political power had then passed to the Africans who were free to embrace the Gospel; the church had produced literate children; prominent men and women who had directly or indirectly benefitted from church then gave it their support; the oil boom of the 1960s provided money for better church personnel throughout Nigeria. The golden era of the Church ended in 1959 when Pastor D. O. Odubanjo and Apostle Ayodele Babalola died.
The history of the church witnessed remarkable developments such as the establishments of a Bible Training College, Ede (1952) (the Bible Training College moved to Erio Ekiti in 1954, to Efon Alaaye in 1958 and to Akure in 1969), Pastoral Training College at Ibadan (1946), School of Prophets and Evangelists at Ilesa (1949), defunct Teachers’ College at Efon Alaaye (1955), Faith Home at Ede (1959). Grammar Schools at Ibadan, Efon Alaaye and Iperu (all in 1960), Ilesa (1962), Akure (1964) and Odo-Owa (1970), Press and Publications department (1966-67), Sunday School Department (1977), Theological Seminary at Ile-Ife (1979) by merging the Bible Training College and Pastoral Training College, and the formation of Societies, Associations and Fellowship groups. All these organs soon helped the Church to firmly establish religious practices and liturgy peculiar to it.
The teaching of the Church had grown out of many sources, namely the Bible, the remarkable soul-searching sermons of the founding fathers; borrowing from Europeans and American literatures especially tracts and magazines; the lessons produced by the various tensions within the Group over the prophylactic use of medicine and other issues of administration. Besides the belief of C.A.C. members in prophecy, visions, divine healing and holy living, the focal points of all tenets and practices of the Church is prayer. And when accompanied with fasting, it could accomplish the impossible. The C.A.C. has strong belief in the efficacy of prayer and that no divine healing could be achieved without FAITH and TRUST in Jesus Christ. These two religious virtues are the bedrock of the Church’s spiritual power.
As a Pentecostal denomination, the Church, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is administered by the orders of Apostle, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and teachers. Ultimate power rest with the Authority of the Church; but it involves elders/deacons, women leaders (deaconess) and leaders of recognized organizations as found appropriate in the process of administration (Eph. 4:11-13).
In sum, for a little over six decades of its existence, the C.A.C. , has grown from groups of persecuted and inconsequential Christians to a church denomination that today claims some five million adherents residing in different parts of the world. The Church possesses its uniqueness and identify in liturgy hinged on praying and singing of hymns, anthems and choruses. It had an impelling message of worshiping in a truly African pattern for all Nigerians. The most distinctive feature of the Church attractive to people of different faiths, in the tenacious belief in, and practice of, divine and Christian healing. No wonder people flock to the C.A.C. seeking solutions to their social, religious, existential and psychological problems. This emphasizes the fact that Jesus Christ still heals and can still be relied upon to provide for all needs as He is the same yesterday, today, and for ever!