CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONBACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
There has been a debate on the contribution (or lack of it) of European Christian Missionaries to the development and self-understanding of Africans since the publication of the book, The mission on Trial (1977). Some acute observers of the history of ideas have recently reopened the same debate on a local level with particular reference to the Church in Nigeria. A quarter years after the first centenary of the coming of the first missionary heralds of the Gospel in Eastern Nigerian in 1885 is a landmark. In the history of the universal Church, it is a brief period. In the history of evangelization in the Eastern part of Nigeria, it is a vital period. The faltering steps of early days have gradually given way to a robust and fast-growing community of faith, with elements of joys and sorrows, problems and plans, the successes and failures. It helps us to understand better the growth of social, intellectual, political and material development brought to the people of the area by this Church.
The social, cultural and political problems hampering Nigeria’s quest for unity and appropriate human development have become major staples of contemporary concern of the Church in Nigeria (Obinna, 1995).
The multi-dimensional aspects of development in the various facets of the Nigerian Society have received the attention of the Church and still beckon on the Church for dialogue, critical and constructive dynamism if the church must continue to be relevant today and into the future. Indeed the history of the Church in Nigeria does not make full appreciative sense without a decisive entry for the better into the economic, cultural and socio-political development of the nation (Onwuanibe, 1995). Only with such vigorous engagement for the authentic progress and development of the nation can the Church’s message be welcome in the seeking of solutions to emergent development problems facing the country. Ultimately, human development is about the realization of potential. It is about what people can do and what they can become–their capabilities and about the freedom they have to exercise real choices in their lives.