I wasn't in town last Sunday when there was a big event in our church congregation (called a ward), though I was aware that it would be happening. For some time, the church here has been planning on splitting our ward to make a new branch that would meet on Ikoyi. Our ward, which met far out on the Lekki peninsula, had large boundaries and it was difficult and expensive for many members who live closer to us, on Ikoyi and Victoria Island, to attend church services. The LDS church in Nigeria is quite large and well-established, with two stakes (like Catholic diocese) in Lagos. But they have recognized the difficulties and costs that arise when members live farther distances from church buildings, so they have begun to split congregations and acquire meeting locations closer to where members and potential members live. Last week the Victoria Island ward was dissolved and the Lekki ward and Ikoyi branch were formed from the membership. We now belong to the newly formed Ikoyi branch of the church and Roy Allen (our upstairs neighbor) is our new branch president. Until our new building on Ikoyi is ready, (hopefully in February) we are still meeting at our former location in Lekki, but we look forward to a shorter commute to church and a chance to help our small branch of the church grow larger. The new meeting location will allow our missionaries to proselyte to and teach interested Nigerians who live in areas close to our new building and invite them to attend services close to their homes. All the LDS expatriates in the area except one American family who live on the Chevron compound are in the new branch, but the branch is small. We had less than 40 to church on this first meeting and will likely have around 50 members at church for a while. There are not many young children and youth, but we are all excited about participating in the growth of the LDS church in Nigeria. I will miss so many of the relationships that I've formed with other Nigerian members of the church staying in the Lekki ward who I won't see each Sunday. They have such wonderful spirits and testimonies, and I've learned and grown from them, and I will treasure my memories of our worship together.
Here's a photo of our new Ikoyi branch after our first service together today.