News Release

Nigerian Church History Honored with Pioneer Trek and Devotional

History of Church in Calabar Nigeria Celebrated

Pioneer Day Trek in Calabar Nigeria2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

On April 22, 2023, members of the Calabar Nigeria South Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrated the first permanent building in Calabar, erected by the Church 31 years ago, with their own Pioneer Day Trek and Devotional.   These events provided the opportunity to honor and recognize members of the Church within the current boundaries of Calabar Nigeria South Stake, who have been so instrumental in the Church’s founding and growth.

The day began with over 400 members of the Stake, along with friends, neighbors, and community leaders, conducting a pioneer day trek through the streets of Calabar.  Lively and happy marchers distributed invitations for the pioneer day devotional later that afternoon.  They shared the restored gospel with onlookers and sang and danced to hymns as they marched together through the metropolis of Calabar.  President Samuel Ukoah, of the Calabar Nigeria South Stake, while speaking with local media, commended members of the church for turning up faithfully for the celebration of Nigerian pioneer heritage.

The trek began at the Yellow-Duke ward chapel which is the first permanent building built by the Church in Calabar.  The Yellow-Duke chapel was completed and dedicated in April 1992.

Following the trek through the streets of Calabar, the celebrants gathered for a pioneer devotional to celebrate the anniversary of the first building dedication in Calabar and to honor and recognize the pioneers of the Church in Calabar.  The theme of the devotional "Building on a Solid Foundation” is a, “clarion call for all members of the Church, to continue to faithfully sacrifice and constantly build upon the solid foundation which the early pioneers of the Church in Calabar had built,” said President Ukoah.  Another purpose of the pioneer trek and devotional was to open the Church widely to the residents of the Calabar-South community to help them understand the Church’s beliefs and get to know the local members.

During the devotional, Brother Eyo Eyo, one of the early pioneers of the Church in Calabar, gave a presentation of the history of the Church in this area.  Brother Eyo, a former Branch President, told the story of Ime Orung Edouk who joined the Church in the United States and when the Priesthood was extended to all worthy males, was asked to return home in 1979.   He became the first in Calabar to be conferred with the Priesthood, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally established in Calabar, Cross River State in 1979.  The late brother Eduok was the first pioneer and Priesthood leader.  President Ukoah added, “It has helped all of us to reflect on the sacrifices of the earlier pioneers, who laid a solid foundation of the Church in Calabar.”

As part of the devotional service, 66 members and families of the Calabar Nigeria South Stake were given Awards of Recognition for their service, dedication, and commitment to the work of the Lord.  “These members have remained faithful through many challenges and have been an integral part of the the growth of the Church in Nigeria,” President Ukoah noted when presenting the awards. “These members have been able to keep the faith, live the gospel and prove that they can stand as witnesses of Jesus Christ at all times and in all places.  We decided to honor them for their steadfastness, faith, and commitment to the course of God's work."

The highlight of The Pioneer Day Devotional was the registering of 35 investigators of the Church, including 3 traditional rulers. After the devotional, a question-and-answer session was organized and questions about the church and the restored gospel were discussed and answered to their understanding and satisfaction.

The Stake Presidency and High Council of the Calabar Nigeria South Stake worked with local bishoprics to organize the Pioneer Day Celebration.  President Ukoah stated, “We organized the Pioneer Day Celebration to remind ourselves of how the Church started in Calabar South and spread to other parts of the State capital and into other States in Nigeria. We are celebrating our membership in the Church, our conversions, and endured tribulations and persecutions from family members and outsiders. It is based on these premises, that we can all stand as witnesses of Christ and keep the faith as these pioneers have done before us.”  

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