At the heart of Bowen University campus stands the imposing University Worship Centre which demonstrates the awesomeness of the Almighty God! The volume of the Chapel shows how tiny every worshiper is compared to the might of the Lord. This speaks volumes. It shows that God is at the center of all pursuits in Bowen. The Church of God is the body that radiates the light of God into every facet of life here; it is the yeast that leavens the dough and it is that salt that silently but steadily permeates and percolates while sweetening this God-centered citadel, for the formation and transformation of young Nigerians from every tribe, culture and religion into being veritable potent tools in the hands of their Maker.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The history of the Chaplaincy is inextricably tied to that of the University. As a faith-based institution, the pioneer staff that were on ground in September 2002 (to prepare for the commencement of full academic work in November 2002) began a fellowship. This fellowship regularly met in the former bursar’s office, with the pioneer Vice Chancellor, Professor Okedara in attendance. Those that were in charge of the fellowship in those early days included Professor Okedara (the Vice Chancellor) as Chairman, Deacon Aborisade (Personal Assistant to the Vice Chancellor), Elder G.B.A. Adelabu (the Bursar), Pastor T. A. Atoyebi, Mr Ayo Patunola and Mr T. A. Ayanbamiji as the Secretary.
The Fellowship organized worship services for staff on Wednesdays. When students resumed, they had their first two Sunday Services at Alma Rohm Baptist Church, which was then on Campus, alongside members of the Church. The third Sunday service was held on 17 November, 2002 at Laosebikan Hall. Thereafter, at the instance of the Vice Chancellor, Sunday Services were held at Laosebikan Hall while Alma Rohm was retained for the Wednesday staff and students’ fellowship. With no Chaplain on ground, invited ministers and staff members attended to the spiritual needs of the fledging congregation. Some of such ministers and staff are: Rev. (Dr) S. Ademola Ishola, Rev. S. M. Leigh, Rev. (Dr) Olumide Kehinde, Rev. Olaniyan, Rev. Kunle Adeyemo, Rev. Tayo Orodiji, Mr E. A. Lawale (Registrar), Mr A. D. V. Ayansina, Mr T. A. Ayanbamiji, Pastor T. A. Atoyebi, Mr Chris Igbeneghu, Professor M. O. Fawole, Professor J. A. Faniran, Professor T. O. Aro, Dr J. A. Akande and Professor Ogunjimi. Pastor T. A. Atoyebi coordinated worship services on Sundays, while Mr Chris Igbeneghu coordinated Wednesday devotions.
Rev. Tayo Orodiji muted the idea of having a Baptist Students’ Fellowship on campus. This was welcomed but there was a need to contextualize the fellowship in view of the peculiarities of its mode of operation here. This led to the body being named Bowen Baptist Students’ Fellowship (BBSF). Meanwhile, there was an on-going search for a chaplain. Rev. Marcus came in from Port-Harcourt but left soon after.
In 2003, Rev. Goke Adeleke who was with the Students Ministries of the Convention returned from studies in the United States about this time and was sent down to the University by the General Secretary, Rev. (Dr) Ademola Ishola, to oversee the unit while a substantive chaplain was still being sought for.
It was Rev. Goke Adeleke who did the preparatory work that led to the emergence of the Chaplaincy Committee of the University. Its Chairman was Professor Okedara, the Vice Chancellor. When the demands of his office began to bear on his performance in the Committee, Professor Okedara relinquished his chairmanship and Professor T. O. Aro became the Chairman of the Committee. Some spiritual programmes that Rev. Goke Adeleke put in place within his short but eventful sojourn in Bowen are:
• Staff Spiritual Retreat at Ede
• Street Evangelism
• Crusade in Partnership with the Community at First Olukotun Baptist Church
• Village Evangelism at Bode-Osi
• Inauguration of the first BBSF Exco.
• Teaching of “Baptist History” and “Christian Ethics” as part of the General Studies course.
In September 2004, Rev. Larry Ayuba came on board. He was assigned the portfolio of the Chaplain in charge of Discipline, Discipleship and Sunday School. This arm of the unit saw to the printing of Sunday School bulletins, training of BBSF officers and regular trips to Ede for the “Master Life” discipleship “Half Day of Prayer”.
On 11 January, 2005, Rev. Goke Adeleke died in a ghastly motor accident along Ife-Ibadan express way. The mantle of leadership of the Unit fell on Rev. Larry Ayuba. The task was demanding. He began to conduct “back-to-back” services at both Laosebikan Hall and Munchies Cafeteria. He also got student pastors from the Baptist Seminary Ogbomoso to help. Rev. Yarisson, a music minister also came in every weekend to help train and prepare the choir for service. Rev. Mrs Janet Oluwoye was brought in on part-time basis in April 2005 to help teach the GST course. Rev. Larry Ayuba held fort with this team of helpers; Rev. Kunle Popoola joined the Chaplaincy in November 2005, while Rev. Mrs Janet Oluwoye became a full fledged staff of the Unit in 2006.
The increase in students’ population necessitated changes in the place of worship. Worship services were moved from Laosebikan Hall to the football field, back to Laosebikan and New University Cafeteria then to a tripartite arrangement of New University Cafeteria, the New Lecture Theatre (NLT) and Olowude Hall. A Chaplain ministered at each of the worship centres. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Timothy Olagbemiro, had to shuttle these worship centres at every service, to make his announcements.
In March 2008, Rev. Larry Ayuba proceeded on study leave to the United Kingdom. That same year Pastor (Miss) Peace T. Babatunde and Pastor Isaiah Akinwale Akinsola joined the staff of the Chaplaincy. Between March and September 2008, Rev. Kunle Popoola coordinated the activities of the Unit. Rev. Mrs Janet Oluwoye was appointed Acting Head Chaplain on 15 September, 2008. In the music ministry, Dr E. K. Oyadiran held fort as Head; under his leadership a Banquet / Music Concert was organized in Lagos that yielded some financial returns to the University. He also organized the first music worship for the Unit, which later became a yearly event. Rev. Auda from the Baptist Seminary Ogbomoso, assisted for a while; Pastor Mrs Funke Temitope Ojo sojourned briefly as the music minister in the Unit. These ones also contributed to God’s work.
The Senate of the University set up a Chapel Committee to oversee spiritual activities on campus. The Committee has the Vice Chancellor as Chairman; other members include the Registrar Mr E. A. Lawale, Professor J. A. Faniran, Professor T. O. Aro, Professor D. S. Izevbaye, Professor M. O. Fawole, Rev. Mrs J. Oluwoye, Pastor T. A. Atoyebi – Secretary as well as student representatives. The Committee has taken some major decisions in the past such as planning and executing the sitting arrangement in the University Worship Centre, among others.
The Chaplaincy is the Unit that guides the spiritual aspect of the University’s programmes. This Unit presently has five (5) Chaplains and a Music Officer, who are all members of the Chaplaincy Committee. Other members of the Chaplaincy Committee are the University’s Music Coordinator, representatives of the staff and representatives of the BBSF. The Committee is headed by Professor T. O. Aro.
Four (4) Chaplains, two (2) male and two (2) female, are on ground to work with the University’s administration to oversee the spiritual well-being of the institution. They work with the Bowen Baptist Student Fellowship (BBSF) to achieve the following objectives through groups and units:
• To lead students to a commitment to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
• To involve them in the study of Biblical truths and Christian discipleship.
• To lead them to relate academic disciplines to their Christian faith.
• To help them to be responsible Church members who go back to their Churches to further the work of the kingdom; and
• To help students cultivate and horn leadership skills.
These objectives are achieved through Biblically balanced and doctrinally sound teaching of the word of God. The Unit helps in maintaining Christian harmony among the staff by performing pastoral duties to them and the students. The Unit also coordinates staff/students participation in corporate prayers, discipleship and evangelism.
Some deviant attitudes that the Chaplaincy has handled, and are still handling, with varying degrees of success to God’s glory are:
• Unhealthy craving for sex (nymphomania) which is rampart among youths of today
• Unbridled desire to pick and own all things around even when one has such already (kleptomania)
• Seemingly inexplicable desire to just do nothing (to loaf around all day).
• Compulsive desire to be on the wrong side of the law(deviance).
• Relational issues - Love - Dating - Choosing the right marriage partner
• Sexual issues - Lust - Masturbation - Pornography - Homosexuality
• Familiar issues - Parental divorce - Dealing with step-parents, - Coping with overprotective parents - Living with inattentive parents - Non-Christian parents
• Abuses - Sexual abuse - Alcohol abuse - Drug abuse
• Unhealthy self-esteem
In order to improve the state of ethical values in our society, there is a compulsory course called Christian Education for every 100 level student in the first semester of resumption. In it, general ethics and Christian ethics in particular are taught. It is a basic course that is of great help to students at school and in the future.
The course emphasizes Christian ethics such as: honesty, love for fellow-students and staff, hard work, bearing no false witness, avoidance of covetousness so as not to steal etc. There is also emphasis on stewardship of time, money, talents, influence, etc.
One of the important tasks that the chaplains undertake is counselling. Students come from diverse backgrounds that evoke pressures of many kinds, coupled with the rigours of the academic environment; thus students end up being stressed up and sometimes disoriented. With prayer and diligent study of the word of God, students are counselled and guided to choose to move on in life, in the assurance that with God, there is no difficulty they cannot overcome.
MODE OF WORSHIP
The University, through the Chaplaincy Unit, has scheduled corporate worship programme in line with the Baptist mode of worship which is similar to those of other mainline Churches e.g. Methodist, Anglican, ECWA, etc. The worship service usually involves singing praises and hymns from the Baptist Hymnals, saying prayers, reading of the scriptures and the delivery of short messages. The periods of worship are Sunday mornings between 9a.m. and 12 noon; and evenings between 7p.m. and 8p.m. The evening service affords students the opportunity to pray for their parents and guardians.
STUDENTS’ SPIRITUAL INVOLVEMENT
All students are mandated to be involved in the following spiritual exercises namely:
(i) The morning and evening devotions by 6:30a.m. and 10:30p.m. respectively. The University provides two daily devotional books for these, viz: “Seek Daily” and “A Word for Today.” The devotions are done in the students’ halls of residence led by their devotional leaders. There are also few copies of “The Spiritual Diet” for interested staff and students.
(ii) The Wednesday combined worship/devotion between 10:30a.m.–12 noon designed for all staff and students at the University Worship Centre. The chaplains minister at the worship.
(iii) The Thursday Bible study between 7p.m. and 8p.m. at the University Worship Centre led by the students themselves, under the supervision of the chaplains. Bible Study outlines are produced to cover each semester in a session by the Bible Study Coordinator and others.
(iv) Other discipleship programmes involving both teachers and students e.g. Follow the Master, Serve the Master, Master Life, Experiencing God, In God’s Presence, the Mind of Christ, etc.
ANNUAL STAFF AND STUDENTS RETREAT
The Annual Staff and Students Retreat comes up in March beginning from Monday till Wednesday, apart from a day’s spiritual staff retreat at the beginning of the session.
SUPPORT FOR INDIGENT AND BRILLIANT STUDENTS
The Chaplaincy Unit is responsible for helping genuinely indigent students who cannot afford to feed themselves properly, by giving them money through the Benevolence Purse. Also, brilliant students who cannot afford all of their school fees are usually supported, to be able to carry on in their academic pursuit without delay. Several students have benefitted from this.
BOWEN UNIVERSITY PRE-DEGREE PROGRAMME
Bowen University Pre-Degree programme started in 2005. Rev. J. O. Ojo was sent to take care of the spiritual well-being of the campus from the Nigerian Baptist Convention Headquarters, Ibadan. He did this from inception till August 2005, when Rev. Reuben O. Olaleye resumed duty as full-time chaplain in charge of the pre-degree programme. The mode of worship and spiritual activities for the pre-degree programme is the replica of that of Bowen University main campus. Rev. Olaleye and the chaplains in Bowen University work together as a team.
Every year, the Vice Chancellor sets up a Committee that oversees the election of the BBSF Executives. This Committee is usually made up of Chaplains, the Dean of Student Affairs, Student Affairs Officer, Staff of the Student Affairs Unit and Representatives of the BBSF.
The BBSF Executive is the mouth-piece of the Students. It works with the Student Affairs Unit and the Chaplains to see to the well-being of students on campus. It provides ample opportunities for students to develop leadership skills. All chapel programmes are organized by BBSF and coordinated by them under the supervision of the chaplains. The following are Presidents of BBSF from inception; OYELUDE, Christopher Tayo (2003 – 2006), ADESANYA, Oluwaseun O. (2006 – 2007), AKINRIN, Akinrotimi (2007 – 2008), KOLAWOLE, Fisoye (2008 – 2009), OKEDIGBA, Ibukun (2009 – 2010), DAVID, Samuel (2010 – 2011), AKINWUMI, Joshua O. (2011 – 2012).
CHAPLAINS AT WORK
The team of four (4) Chaplains in the University oversee the following activities of the BBSF.
(i) Sunday School Teaching: This aspect of the Unit involves about one hundred student Sunday School teachers who teach various Sunday School classes between 9a.m. and 10a.m. every Sunday. The student teachers meet with the Chaplains and staff on Fridays between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. for the preparatory class. The Sunday School Director, who is also a student, heads the unit. He is a member of the BBSF Executive.
(ii) The Choir: This unit of the Chaplaincy comprises over four hundred (400) students who are talented in music and instruments. They are controlled and guided by staff members who are gifted and trained in music. All of them are generally guided by the chaplains. This unit has been blessing the Convention-in-Session yearly for about five years now. The Bowen Choir also released two albums titled “Jubilation” in 2010, Nigeria’s year of Jubilee and another album titled “Celebration” in 2012 The choir leader is a member of the BBSF Executive.
(iii) The drama unit: This unit has about three hundred and fifty (350) members. They enhance the worship services through short drama ministrations on several occasions. They also released a film titled “Fiwajomi” in 2009 and “Abobaku” in 2011. The films have received lots of commendations from people in and outside Nigeria. The Drama Coordinator serves on the BBSF Executive.
(iv) The prayer unit: This unit comprises one hundred and six (106) students who constantly engage in praying for the University.
(v) The devotional unit: The unit has about one hundred and seventeen (117) students leading the morning and evening devotions among their colleagues in the hostels, at 6.00 a.m. – 6.30 a.m. and 10.00 p.m. – 10.30 p.m. respectively.
(vi) The welfare unit: The welfare unit has about thirty (30) students who are in charge of students’ welfare. This unit has extended its charitable operations outside the campus by visiting the Juvenile/Orphanage Homes in Ibadan and Iwo, hospitals, Kersey Home Ogbomoso, with gifts of food items and other useful materials e.g. toiletries, soaps, etc. The unit is embarking on visiting the prisons this year.
(vii) Sanctuary keepers unit: This unit comprises one hundred and forty eight (148) students who beautify the Worship Centre in particular and the entire campus in general on special occasions. The unit helps the University cleaners in cleaning the Worship Centre before worship hours.
(viii) The evangelism unit: This comprises twenty-eight (28) students who join the Chaplains in village evangelism and revivals. They also join on mission trips.
(ix) The discipleship unit: The unit has about fifty (50) students leading various discipleship classes on Wednesdays between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., namely: Follow the Master, Serve The Master, Master Life, In God’s Presence and The Mind of Christ, as well as ‘Character First’ for deviant students who are handed over to the Chaplaincy by the Student Disciplinary Committee (S. D. C.) of which the Chaplain is a member.
(x) The ushering unit: The ushering unit has eighty (80) students functioning as ushers during worship services and at other special programmes of the University. They also help the University cleaners in keeping the Chapel tidy on special occasions.
(xi) The technical unit: This unit is in charge of the audio/video aspects of the public address system at the University Worship Centre. They are thirty-five (35) in number.
In all, we have over one thousand (1000) student workers functioning in these aforementioned units.
STUDENTS’ GENERAL WELL-BEING
The Chaplaincy is not only concerned about the spiritual welfare of students but also their emotional and physical well-being. In this regard, Chaplains visit the clinic to pray for the sick and also supervise their feeding when necessary. The Jubilee Cafeteria owned by the University involves the Chaplaincy in its smooth running. All BBSF elected Excos are expected to be on campus a week before resumption, for spiritual retreat, to remind them of their duties among their colleagues.
MAINTENANCE OF BAPTIST HERITAGE
(i) Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: After undergoing the required baptismal class, students are baptized and receive the Lord’s supper. Baptism comes up at least once in a semester when between 50 and 80 students are baptized.
(ii) The Lydia Auxiliary: The Lydia Auxiliary of the University was inaugurated in June 2006 and holds its meetings every Sunday at 4:00 p.m. They are involved in the three major awards activities namely: (a) honour’s award (b) service award and (c) missions award. One Sunday in a year is set apart for them to observe the new Lydia’s Week.
(iii) The Royal Ambassadors: This group was officially inaugurated on 29 March, 2009 and adopted the name Olagbemiro Chapter. Bowen University male students are given the opportunity to carry out the activities of the Royal Ambassadors namely: camping, retreats and observance of the Royal Ambassadors’ Week. The Convention Marshal (Counsellor F.A.S. Akinola) was so impressed by the 2011 R. A. week that he gave double promotion to one of the R.A.s due to his good performance. They were invited to the Convention the same year in Ogbomoso to participate in the Royal Ambassadors’ programme.
(iv) Mothers Day: The University sets apart a Sunday in May to observe the Mothers Day of the Convention.
CHAPLAINCY ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THE CAMPUS
The Chaplaincy is involved in village outreaches around Iwo community. There is surveillance for a suitable site to build Baptist Churches in villages for the villagers to have the opportunity of places of worship. The Chaplaincy unit is equally responsible for overseeing some of the spiritual activities of the Pre-degree School, Osogbo, through the Chaplain on ground there.
The Chaplaincy is responsible for taking staff and students on mission trips, e.g. The Lydia Auxiliary mission trips and the Chaplaincy/Staff mission trips.
The Chaplaincy is responsible for visiting bereaved parents and guardians. Staff members who have been bereaved are given spiritual support by the Chaplaincy through prayers and condolence visits.
Students and staff have the opportunity to give to the Lord through tithes and offerings on Wednesdays and Sundays. There is a separate account kept by the University for these and the Bursar is the treasurer. The funds are used for evangelism, purchase of musical equipment, choir robes, Chaplaincy bus, printing, stationeries, etc.
The Chaplaincy, through God’s grace, strive to ensure that staff and students are regularly and properly nourished with the word of God which has the power to mold and sustain lives that are holy unto the Lord, worthy of service to the body of Christ and in conformity with the University’s motto: “Excellence and Godliness”.
The Chaplaincy Unit, through God’s grace and with the encouragement and active support of the Vice Chancellor, Professor T. O. Olagbemiro, has grown in leaps and bounds both in size and in influence. To God be the Glory.