THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY IN ISAGA ORILE
The missionaries led by Henry Townsend after having visited Abeokuta several times since the first visit on the 4th January 1843 started their work in earnest. They opened a church for divine service in Ake and thereafter, Owu, Itoku and Ikija, as well as schools.
On 18th July 1850, Mr. Townsend set off with Mr. Philip as his interpreter. He stopped at Ibara where he preached to the people. From there, he went to Isaga. A church was planted at Isaga and later, a school was built. History indicates that one of the missionaries visited Isaga in November 1861 to teach. In the school, there was a record that shows enrolment of 16 pupils. On the day of visit, 9 pupils were present and 7 were absent. Most of those present were advanced pupils.
From Abeokuta, between 1853 and 1858, Townsend toured incessantly, west to Ibara, Isaga and Ilaro. It was during those visits that churches were planted in other areas of Egbado (now Yewa), first at Oke Odan later at Ajilete. Thus the spirit of evangelism was permeating throughout the whole of Egbado land. The history of the church at Isaga Orile cannot be complete without reference to the Dahomean invasion of Isaga Orile in 1862. The Dahomeans had made a peace treaty with Isaga which was sealed with a sacrifice. The Isaga people sent secret intelligence report to Abeokuta about the peace treaty made with the Dahomeans.
On Sunday, March 2, 1851, there was high tension and dismay in Abeokuta. On the defeat of the Dahomeans by the Egbas, they became mortified and enraged determined to embrace the first opportunity of avenging themselves of their enemies. The Dahomeans laid siege on Isaga to avenge their anger in 1862 and the town was destroyed. The first church which had been built around 1850 was destroyed by Dahomeans. The converts who were left remained undaunted. The earliest convert was David Abijo of Ago Alafia (agbole Abamo). Other first set of members noted to have been baptized in the church included
1. Mr Samuel Akinwumi
2. Mr William Adegbola Ajayi
3. Mr Joseph Labode Ajayi
4. Mr Daniel Orunmolu
5. Mr Isaac Ikumapayi
6. Mr Gabriel Tella
7. Mr James Adeyeri
8. Mr Moses Adeyemi
9. Mr Immanuel Ariori
10. Mr Solomon Sangobiyi
11. Mr David Famiwaye
12. Mr Immanuel Ajayi
13. Mr Michael Onipede
14. Mr Moses Kuwole
15. Mr Immanuel Erubami
16. Mr George Henry Osayemi
17. Mr Abraham Ewumi
18. Madam Abigael Abijo
19. Madam Janet Aseniyi
These men and women resolved to build another church and in 1896, the foundation of the second church was laid amidst pomp and pageantry. The church was dedicated to the memory of Rev Ernest Fry by Bishop Tugwell on 5th June, 1907. He was a missionary who contributed so much to the growth of Christianity in Isaga Orile, gaining many converts for Christ.
Rev Ernest Fry was born in Arundel, Sussex, England in 1870. He was trained at Clapham and at the CMS Training College, Islington, England in 1892. He was sent out as layman to the Yoruba mission at Abeokuta on 22nd November, 1893. He worked as a dispenser, pastor and treasurer for thirteen years in Abeokuta and at Isaga Orile. On 18th June, he was admitted into the diaconate by the bishop of London. On December 3, 1905, he was ordained a priest in Lagos, Nigeria by Bishop Isaac O. Oluwole. On 28th July, 1899, he got married to a fellow missionary, Miss Phyllis Leach in Lagos. He died untimely at Abeokuta on June 21, 1906. His wife continues the missionary work in Nigeria until her death in 1919.
On his death, the Rev. T. Harding, as he recorded in the minutes of executive committee Lagos, said “ by the death of the Rev. E. Fry at Abeokuta on Thursday, 21st June, 1906, the CMS has lost one of its most devoted, conscientious and untiring missionary. Much used and blessed during the last thirteen years, in the dispensary work, a pastor and friend of the lepers, he was ever ready to advice and help to carry out the plans of the church council in extending their evangelistic work and establishing existing pastoral work. He was neat, accurate and painstaking in his work as treasurer of the different church funds; as fellow worker with and adviser to the clergy and other agents. He will be very much missed by the Abeokuta church. Indeed, this committee too has lost a dear brother and a wise and helpful adviser”
Christianity thrived and flourished in Isaga Orile with the untiring efforts of the missionaries.
Isaga Orile soon became the focus of Christianity for all the townships and villages in the then Egbado North.
Converts from these townships and villages were brought to Isaga Orile for baptism, while the dead were also brought to Isaga for burial, as it was the only consecrated cemetery.
Many priests, assisted by agents, catechists and worked at Rev. Fry Memorial Anglican church, Isaga Orile, they include
1. Rev J. E Akande 1910-1917(the first resident priest)
2. Rev J. F Peters 1918-1939
3. Rev. Canon S.E.O. Soyemi 1940-1944
4. Rev. J. F. Ekundayo 1945-1951
5. Rev. E. O. Omojoyegbe 1951-1959
6. Rev. (later Ven. T. Ade Owolabi) 1960-1965
7. Rev. J. A Ilori 1966-1970
8. Rev Canon E. A Akinwootu 1974-1978
9. Rev. Canon S. A. Adejimi 1978-1985
10. Ven. J.A.O. Fadipe 1986-1998
11. Ven. E.B. Matimiloju 1998-2008
12. Ven. A. D. Akintomide 2008- Febuary 10, 2014
13. Ven. J.O. Ojo Febuary 10, 2014-June25, 2014
14. Ven. D.O. Odukoya June 25, 2014 – 2018
15. Ven. Olusola Ladipo-Ajayi 2018 – till date
The following curates also served in the church:
1. Rev. C.B. Adeyanju
2. Late Rev. W.A. Olaleye
3. Rev(now canon) D.A.Y. Akinwumi
4. Rev. S.A. Ojewumi
5. Rev(later canon) J.O. Oguntade
6. Rev. E.A Olakuleyin
7. Rev(now Ven.) O.O. Oyedele
8. Rev. R.A. Bello
9. Rev. S.O. Popoola
10. Rev Canon Akinbode
11. Ven. Emmanuel Oloniniran
12. Rev. Joshua Ogunnubi
The following agents and catechists also worked in the church:
1. Mr I.S. Sofoluwe 1910-1911
2. Mr. I.E. Erinoso 1911-1912
3. Mr. D.O. Adesiyan 1912- 1913
4. Mr. C.O. Boluwole 1914- 1916
5. Mr E. A.B. Ejiwumi 1917-1939
On the feast of St. James the Apostle on 25th July, 1940, when Egbado Provisional District Church Council was created, the Rev. Fry Memorial Church, Isaga Orile, became the seat of the Provisional District Council.
As a result of the twist of fortune, the seat of the council was moved in 1944 to Christ Church, Ilaro by Rev. Canon S.E.O. Soyemi.
Some 30years after, on the feast of St. Paul the Apostle on 25th July, 1974 when Egbado North Provisional District Church council was carved out of the Egbado District Church Council by the Lagos Diocese, the church again became the seat of the District Council.
On May 11, 1991 when Egbado (now Yewa) North Archdeaconry was created, the church also became the seat of the first Archdeacon in Yewa Diocese. The foundation of the new church was laid on the 13th December, 1980 and was dedicated on 16th May 1998. It is the third Anglican Church at Isaga Orile.