Brief Historical Background
Mbaitoli is one of the twenty-seven Local Government Areas that make up Imo State of Nigeria. It is actually located at the centre of the Eastern Heartland. It shares borders with the following Local Government Areas – Oguta and Oru to the West; Isu and Njaba to the North; lsiala-Mbano and Ikeduru to the East and Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and Owerri West to the South. See fig 1 (Map of Imo State)
Mbaitoli, as the name implies, comprises of originally, nine major towns, namely, Mbieri, Ogwa, Orodo, Ubomiri, Ifakala, Afara,. Umunoha, Ogbaku and Eziama – Obiato. Politically, Mbaitoli consists of twelve INEC Wards. It is in fact the largest Local Government Area in Imo State in terms of population density.
The people of Mbaitoli are predominantly Christians. Trading, farming and public/civil service are their major occupations.
Advent of Christianity
The advent of Christianity in Mbaitoli dates back to 1908 when the Church Missionary Society (CMS) planted a church at Abazu-Ogwa. Through the burning zeal and inspirations of the early converts and through some other external influences, Christianity rapidly spread to many communities in Mbaitoli area.
In 1912, the Holy Trinity Church, Obazu-Mbieri, Emmanuel Church, Okwu-Orodo, Christ Church, Umunoha were planted in the same year, 1912. Saint Thomas Church, Eziarna-Obiato was later planted in 1919.
Growth of The Church
In January 1959, the Diocese of Owerri (carved out of the Diocese on the Niger) was inaugurated with the following twelve Ecclesiastical Districts namely; Egbu Owerri, Atta, Mbieri, Arondizuogu, Ife, Nkwerre, Ezeoke, Umuduru, lhiagwa, Ngor Okpala and Okigwe for administrative purposes. At present all the other eleven district Headquarters have become Diocesan Headquarters with a glaring exception of Mbieri (as Mbaitoli) District.
The growth of the church in the Diocese of Owerri resulted in the creation of Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Archdeaconry. In 1992, Mbaltoli and Ikeduru were de-merged and each became a full-fledged Archdeaconry. The Headquarters of Mbaitoli Archdeaconry was at
Holy Trinity Church Obazu-Mbieri and that of Ikeduru was St.Mathews Church, Atta. In 1997 Mbaitoli Archdeaconry became two
Archdeaconries Mbieri and Ogwa. After twelve years (2010), those two Archdeaconries have grown to become nine Archdeaconries.
Today, these nine Archdeaconries justifiably demand to be the Diocese of Mbaitoli. These nine Archdeaconries are united religiously, socially, culturally, economically and politically under one Local Government Area called “Mbaitoli”, the name unanimously accepted for the actualization of our proposed Diocese.
The proposed Diocese of Mbaitoli comprises nine (9) Archdeaconries, twenty-three (23) parishes and fifty-four (54) church stations as a balanced and functional Anglican zone.
Submission of Application
For record purposes and for posterity, the application for the creation of the Anglican Diocese of Mbaitoli was submitted to the Diocese of Owerri in the year 2008 (one hundred years after the advent of Anglican Christianity in the Area). Subsequently, the application was updated in 2009 and again in 2010. Representations/delegations have been made to our Lord Bishop, Diocese of Owerri.
Given this rich historical background it would be seen that the demand for the Diocese of Mbaitoli was not borne out of selfish desires or inordinate ambition of a people. It should be seen as a legitimate demand of well-meaning people who have waited for so long to be recognized like other 11 “districts.” After all, the Israelites demanded for a king in order to be like other nations.
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