Faith Baptist Church (initially called First Baptist Church, Diobu, Port Harcourt), was established in 1964. It was established following the acquisition of the land, where it is presently located by the American Baptist Mission in January 19 55. The late Rev. Dimogu was asked to move to plant a church on this land by Rev. Sledd, Missionary to the Eastern Baptist Conference. Dimogu was at that time the Pastor of the Baptist Preaching station located at 22 owhonda street, Port Harcourt, itself a daughter church of the first Baptist Church, 93, aggrey Road Port Harcourt. The church has remained on its present site on Rumuoparaeli Street from inception. Several members of the Owhonda Street preaching station moved to the new church with Rev. Dimogu. They include Mr. Cecilia Abraham Mini, Mrs. George Ezekwu who later became the treasurer of the eastern Baptist Conference. The construction of the first church auditorium and educational buildings was mainly sponsored by Mr. Cooper an American farmer who was intimated of the need by Mr. Ralph Davis, then principal of the Baptist Boys High School, Port Harcourt. During this the early period, the church hosted the Baptist Bible School. The Bible School was later moved to join Krama and finally to Ahoada. Leadership and Character of the church at the beginning from its inception, Faith Baptist Church had a Cosmopolitan membership drawn from many ethnic groups within Nigeria and expatriates. The expatriates comprised of the Sudan interior mission in Nigeria and their wives and some staff of the Gulf Company. The wife of one such missionaries, Gloria was the first Organist of the church. Rev. Dimogu left the church in the later part of 1965 for further study. Late pastor Mylius Wejinya took over as pastor and served until he also for further studies in England. Unfortunately, he died overseas. With the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war which engulfed the eastern religion of Nigeria, Members fled to a cessation until August 1968 when it reopened under the leadership of Pastor Stephen Abel. His stay in the church was very brief. The administrator of the church was then handled by a committee comprising of Mrs. George Ezekwu, Mac Dado , Bobo Pepple and Horsfall and Eugene Amakiri. The late Rev. GodsPower Isaiah took over as pastor of the church in October 1975. He remained pastor until 1996. Under Rev Isaiah’s leadership, all organizations of the church were fully established and functional. These include the Baptist Men’s Fellowship (BMF), the women’s Missionary Union (WMU), the youth fellowship and the Baptist student’s Fellowship (BSF). By 1975 the membership of the church had risen to about one Hundred.
ENVANGELISM AND MISSIONS
Evangelism and Missions have been the heartbeat of Faith Baptist Church. The church has received a number of awards for her role in church planting and missions. All organizations in the church are involved in missions. The outcome of this collective efforts is seen in the establishment and maintenance of several daughter churches, outreach programme and ultimately soul winning. Many of the daughter churches are now organized into fully functioning churches able to take their places within the Nigerian Baptist convention. Some of the former and present daughter churches include: Emmanuel Baptist Church, Eminike street Port Harcourt, Gilead Baptist Church Abonnema (1978), Redemption Baptist Church, Iwofe (1985), Glorious King Baptist Church, Kabangha (1998), Liberty Baptist Church, Abuloma (2001), Royal Harvest Baptist Church, Nkpogu, Port Harcourt (2006), Kingdom Life Baptist Church, Igo-Etche , (2006), and Convenant Faith Baptist Church, Eneka (2007). Others include: Glorious Faith Baptist, Okuru-Ama (2010), Faith Baptist Church, Imiringi Road, Ikwek Afaha Obong, Akwa-Ibom State (2010), and Faith Baptist Church Imiringi Road, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State (2013). These are in addition to two churches that were established in Ogoni by Ray Ash, an American Missionary, and adopted by Church when the missionary returned home. They are Bethel Baptist Church, Bane (1986) and Peniel Baptist Church, Buan (1993). It is worthy of mention that the Men’s fellowship of the church contributed immensely to the founding and nurturing of the Bethel Baptist Church, Okehi II in Etche, with the full support of the Women’s Missionary Society.
CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS AND MINISTRIES
The church from inception has developed specific organizations and ministries to actualize the great commission of our Lord (Mathew 28: 19-20). The objectives and ministries include Proclamation of the gospel, fellowship, and meeting the spiritual and material needs of its members and the community. The organizations which are functional include: The Men’s Missionary Union comprising the Baptist Men’s Fellowship (BMF) established in 1979 and the Royal Ambassadors (RA), the WMU comprising the Women’s Missionary Society (WMS), the Lydia Auxiliary , the Girls Auxiliary (GA) and the Sunbeam Band (for four-nine year old children), the Youth Fellowship and BSF which was started in 1992. Some ministries of the church include the Hospital Ministry initiated by Mrs. Edeniba Ameiye, the Prison Ministry originally started by the WMS, marriage counseling (now Marriage Enrichment) Initially anchored by the Youth Fellowship, Music Ministry with fully graded Choir System, Drama Ministry Adult Literacy Programme, and Widows Ministry. In addition to these, the church has a robust Teaching and Discipleship Ministry expressed through the Sunday school, church training program (now Disciples Lifestyle), and a series of graded Discipleship courses such as “Follow the Master”, “Serve the Master”, “Master the Life”, “Experiencing God”, and “In God’s Presence”.
FAITH BAPTIST CHURCH SCHOOL
The church school system started operating in 1982 with a pre-nursery school under the leadership of Rev. Isaiah with the support of Ms. Dale Moore, then Port Harcourt city Missionary. A decision was later reached to constitute a committee to fashion out modalities for setting up the school. Lt. Commander Ogunaike was the chairman of the committee. The project had multiple objectives, including evangelism and providing job opportunities for members of the church. From this modest beginning, the church school has grown to include Nursery, Primary (started in 1978) and secondary (started in 2000) armed with full approval from relevant government agencies. The schools, which provide an excellent and godly learning environment in the city of Port Harcourt, are run by a board appointed by the church.
As the church celebrates its Golden Jubilee, we give praise and thanksgiving to God. Faith: Baptist Church has achieved great milestones within Rivers Baptist Conference and the Nigerian Baptist Convention in the past fifty years. The theme for 2014 “Year of Expansion” captures the mindset of the church as it celebrates. In this spirit, a new 3000-seater church auditorium, whose foundation laying is a part of this celebration, is being planned to be built. What do we see as we look ahead to the next fifty years? It is not easy to provide answer to this question. However, we see a church making giant strides in local and international missions, as well as a church that is getting better and growing stronger spiritually, numerically, financially, and structurally as she seeks to fulfill the five-fold purpose of the church, namely: worship, fellowship, teaching, evangelism and care.