First Church in Nigeria
History records that Christianity first came into what is now known as Nigeria when the early Portuguese missionaries came into Nigeria in the early sixteenth century. One may say that since the Portuguese missionaries introduced Christianity in Nigeria, then they must have established the first Church in Nigeria. However, the first Church in Nigeria was established long after the Portuguese missionaries left Nigeria.
The first Church in Nigeria is the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Ake Abeokuta Ogun State established by Andrew Desalu Wilhelm and later perfected by Reverend Henry Townsend in 1898. Andrew Desalu was an Egba man captured with other slaves by colonial masters, later freed and settled in Sierra Leone before moving back to Ogun State. Desalu began to preach the gospel of Christianity to other freed slaves and then built a shed that became the First Foundation of the Cathedral Church of St. Peter Ake. Desalu offered the freed slaves in Abeokuta a place to stay and tell them about Christ during their stay of which many of them gave their lives to Christ, but could not be baptized as there was no Priest to perform the baptismal process.
Reverend Henry Townsend, an Anglican Missionary who returned to Abeokuta his mission base in 1846 with other missionaries then helped to complete the Church on September 6 1898, 52 years after the foundation was built by Andrew Desalu.
The church served as a rallying point for a good number of missionaries as they had their meetings in the Church.
However, the old Church auditorium has been renovated to a bigger and more modern auditorium while the original edifice of the oldest church in Nigeria stands as a tourist site and as an artefact. The Church also has a hall within the Church Premises named after Reverend Henry Townsend who played a very important role in the birthing of Christianity in Abeokuta.