Pastor E.A Adeboye 40th Anniversary (RCCG General Overseer)
CELEBRATING PASTOR ADEBOYE’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY AS GENERAL OVERSEER OF THE RCCG
By Leke Beecroft
On January 20, 1981 , late Papa Akindayomi was succeeded by a young university lecturer, Enoch Adejare Adeboye, who assumed office after a lengthy and bitter leadership fight with two older contestants; a protracted power struggle that hit at the soul of the Church. The struggle split the RCCG into three factions, each headed by one of the contestants. The challenge however with choosing a leader came with the fear of the curse on any usurper placed by Akindayomi before his departure.
By virtue of the constitution of the RCCG, Adeboye was not in line for succession as he was not a member of the Supreme Council at the time; however, Papa Akindayomi had warned before his departure that the constitution was made for the ‘government’ and that when it was time, God would anoint a successor. No one in the council was therefore ready at Papa Akindayomi’s death to ‘bell’ the cat by choosing someone else for fear of the curse; however, they largely seemed to prefer to resist the choice of the young man whom they feared would usurp the role of the council with youthful exuberance among other factors. Eventually, Adeboye was chosen and the other factions broke away. Adeboye’s appointment as leader of the church was thus formalized by the posthumous reading of Akindayomi’s sealed pronouncement. The RCCG blossomed while the other ‘factions turned churches’ withered over time.
On assumption of office. Adeboye declined the title of ‘Reverend’ as well as his nomenclature as GS or ‘General Superintendent’ (The GS title was taken up that same year by Pastor Kumuyi of Deeper Life while the gregarious Idahosa of the CGM had opted for ‘Archbishop’) and chose to remain as ‘Pastor’ while adopting ‘General Overseer’. RCCG at this time had 31 branches (they rose to 39 in 1981 including one later established in Ghana by the summer) as well as about 2,000 members in total. To put it in context with similar Pentecostal ministries emerging at the time, Deeper Life Bible Church was formalized same year-1981 with about 10,000 members in Gbagada, Lagos while Benson Idahosa’s Church of God Mission International had planted over 650 churches in 10 countries. Benson Idahosa was consecrated Archbishop by November 1981. The significance of 1981 in Nigeria has been dealt with significantly in my article-1981, the year of Nigeria’s Divine Visitation.
Adeboye became a member of the RCCG in 1973 after his wife, Folu Adeboye (nee Adeyokunnu), had joined the Church as a result of her quest for spiritual solutions for some existential afflictions. Being the most educated person in the church at the time, he became the translator/interpreter for the founder (from Yoruba to English) and his right hand man or confidant. He rose quickly and was ordained a pastor in 1977 , a mere four years after becoming a member and without attending any bible school or seminary. He had a hands-on mentoring relationship with Akindayomi who clearly showed his preference for him over other eligible candidates for leadership of the church. He resigned from his teaching position as a senior lecturer in 1984 , three years after ascending to the top leadership position of the Church.
Early on after assuming leadership of the RCCG, Adeboye re-articulated the core-mandate of the Church. This has since been massively propagated as its “Vision and Mission Statement.” The statements are as follows:
• To make heaven
• To take as many people as possible with us
• To have a member of the RCCG in every family of all nations
• To accomplish No.1, holiness will be our lifestyle
• To accomplish Nos.2 and 3 above, we will plant churches within five minutes walking distance in every city and town of developing countries and within five minutes driving distance in every city and town of developed countries
• We will pursue these objectives until every nation in the world is reached for Jesus Christ our Lord.