Mutual Aid Nigerian Style

“Development Sundays” are the way that Mennonite Church Nigeria (MCN) congregations help each other raise funds for the development of the church. Due to the difficult economic situation churches often find it hard to cover their ongoing expenses, let alone find resources for further development. One of the ways that MCN works at that dilemma is the idea of Development Sundays. Every few months a Sunday is set aside for all the churches in a particular diocese to attend the service of the one of the congregations. Each comes with an agreed upon donation to contribute to the hosting church. Individuals are encouraged to participate out of their own pocket too. In this way there is a kind of mutual aid practiced among the different congregations of the church.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Itam Diocese Development Sunday. The service was like any other Sunday service except that the church was packed due to the attendance of members from the other 7 congregations in the diocese. And of course instead of ending after the sermon things continued for a couple more hours. Each visiting congregation was given the opportunity to dance their donation (set at 5,000 Nira, about $42) up to the front of the church were it was received and counted. All together they contributed 45,000 Nira or about $294. But that wasn’t the total amount collected.

The Offering PrayerOffering Prayer

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As each congregation was called to the front their members would dance their way forward but not alone. Everyone else would come forward with them. In that way anyone from any of the congregations could contribute and increase the total amount that that particular congregations was donating. So everyone danced to the front and around the offering basket at least 7 times. The total amount that was given reached 66,000 Nira, about $555. It was a festive time of dance and music with each of the diocese choirs having ample time to show their stuff.

This seems to me like a very creative way to raise what is quite an amount of capital in that context. By working together they gather enough together to do something significant. If they had to rely on week to week donations from members, ongoing expenses would eat up the offerings as they come in. This time the hosting congregation was planning to use the funds to make some progress on an improvement to their church building. Mutual aid à la Nigerian!

Counting the offerings

Development Offering

Dancing the offerings up to the front of the church

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One thought on “Mutual Aid Nigerian Style

  1. I love the video, and can only laugh out loud when I try to picture SJMC doing this. Actually, we have done our own version of it, bringing $$ to the front and trying to be “lively” while we’re at it, but I think the video makes the difference between the two settings very clear!! The spirit is beautiful in both settings, but I just LOVE this video.

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