Sowing Seeds of Peace
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Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN), the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, is the largest national body of Church of the Brethren in the world, with nearly a million people attending services. The energy and vitality of the membership has resulted in active evangelism and church planting efforts within Nigeria and recently to neighboring countries.
A key body within the life of the Nigerian church has been the ZME, or Women’s Fellowship. Most married women become members, and its active programs and presence are seen by many as “the backbone of the church.” ZME choirs are highly visible in congregations and are a central part of worship. Youth programs and numerous other ministries are also active in EYN.
To support the leadership needs of a growing church, pastoral training has been a continuing challenge, as 10-15 new congregations are formed annually. Invitations to the US church to send teachers for key assignments become areas for meaningful partnering in ministry:
- Kulp Bible College (KBC), near Mubi, the major training institution for Nigerian church leadership;
- The church-sponsored Comprehensive Secondary School, based on the west end of the KBC and EYN headquarters property; and
- Hillcrest School in Jos, a K-12 school started by the Church of the Brethren and now run by a consortium of missions, providing American-style education for the children of mission workers throughout West Africa and others seeking this educational preparation.
Additionally, leadership development grants from Global Mission Partnerships support over 200 people annually as they prepare for pastoral ministry, graduating 60-70 persons each year for service in the church. The Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program trains over 1,500 people annually in basic Christian education, and results in a more biblically grounded laity as well as prompting some graduates to consider pastoral ministry.
Active programs of wells, health care, and schools— which were central mission ventures since the beginning of mission work in Nigeria in 1923— have been handed over to the Nigerian church for direction and implementation. The Mason Technical School joined with a number of these ministries as the church adapted an integrated community development approach. These church outreach ministries continue to assist communities in some of the more isolated areas of northeast Nigeria.