Soul winning and spiritual re-awakening of the world

Publicity Department

Pastor S. O. Oladele

The publicity department of Christ Apostolic Church evolved from the zeal of a young couple to project the good things happening in the church where they were reared. The couple, Mr and Mrs Benjamin Okpaise had travelled to the United Kingdom shortly after their marriage to further their education. The husband, Ben, sooner than later qualified as a chartered secretary and administrator and the wife qualified as a chartered insurance practitioner. The husband later studied journalism, part time by enrolling with the London School of Journalism where he obtained the school’s diploma. He was to recall later that he did not know why he studied for a course in which field he was not likely to practice but it became clear after the couples’ arrival in Nigeria that God was preparing the husband for the role he would play in Christ Apostolic Church, worldwide in later years. On arrival in Nigeria, the couple practised their professions. The husband was employed by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, where he rose to the position of assistant general manager, administration. The wife settled down at the federal government-owned Niger Insurance Company.

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All along, the couple had been worshipping in their church of nurture, Christ Apostolic Church and were always at a loss that their own church‘s activities were not given publicity unlike new generation churches just springing up then. Yet, the couple could not do much to assist the church until they founded, with like-minds like Pastor Sokunbi and others, the Itire, Lagos branch of Christ Apostolic Church. Mr Okpaise became an elder and was, a few years later, ordained as a pastor. In Itire assembly, he experimented with his idea of how the church should be publicised. He published tracts, periodicals and went on radio or television to announce impending church activities. He introduced the idea of publicising the church to the national leaders of the church initially by using his money and intellect. Soon, his ideas became accepted at the national level as he experimented with the publication of the maiden edition of Christ Apostolic Magazine, a bilingual publication, in July 1967. In December 1968, the publicity department of the church was established and Pastor Benjamin Okpaise became the pioneer Publicity Secretary.

More publications were added, like Christ Apostolic Church Year book and in 1969 CAC Revival Tiding, a monthly gospel newspaper was established. Soon, the workload was becoming too heavy for him as he was combining his secular job with the church’s publicity work, the church had to hire a devoted member and fresh graduate of the University of Jos, then Mr Taye Odesola who was later ordained a pastor to be assisting him, first at Christ Apostolic Church Press, Agege, Lagos and later in the publicity department in Ibadan.

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As the volume of printing jobs was growing, printers being hired to print Christ Apostolic Church jobs began to disappoint. Pastor Okpaise was not pleased with this and he decided to set up CAC Printing Press at Shiaba Street, Agege, Lagos. Pastor Okpaise, his wife and Pastor Degun were among the initial shareholders. Some of the innovations introduced by Pastor Okpaise remain till date. Aware that event create news and through news the image of the church can be projected better, Pastor Okpaise suggested to the authorities of the church on the need for ministers’ wives to have a forum where they would meet regularly to share experiences and learn the word of God so as to be partners in the ministry of their husbands. The authority of the church agreed with him and the ministers wives’ fellowship was born in 1973.

Pastor Taye Odesola later succeeded Pastor Okpaise as the publicity secretary. He was also succeeded by Pastor Olu Omoju as the church’s publicity secretary. At another point, Pastor S.A. Owolabi was seconded to work in the department. Pastor Emmanuel Olajide, an English graduate also succeeded Pastor Owolabi. At a stage in 2008, the leadership of the church decided to hire a professional to man the department. The title of the holder of that office had been changed to director of publicity. Pastor Olajide was therefore transferred to coordinate the activities of the ministers wives’ fellowship.

In 2010, the vacancy for the office of the director of publicity was briefly filled by Mr Olusesi. The office was filled afterwards by Pastor Ademisoye Alawode, who still remains the incumbent director of publicity.

Pastor Alawode brought into the office over three and half decades of experience as a journalist, writer, editor and communication practitioner in all ramifications. A mass communication graduate, he studied at postgraduate level in Nigeria and overseas. He started journalism practice at Punch Nigeria Limited where he rose to the position of chief sub-editor before he left after nine years. He worked at Vanguard Newspapers, John West Publications where he edited one of the bestselling daily evening newspapers – Lagos News. He also worked in Newswatch magazine where he ended up as editor of one of the titles in Newswatch magazine stable called Eko Weekly.

Christ Apostolic Church’s constitution clearly spells out the role of publicity secretaries in each assembly and at district, zonal or DCC levels as the officer of the church charged with the responsibility of publicising the activities of the church at various levels. Christ Apostolic Church constitution specifically states that the publicity secretary shall:

  • Protect and project the good name of the church through publications as well as the use of mass media.
  • Inform and educate members of the church about policy matters and current events in the church through publication of magazines and other periodicals.
  • Liaise with and advise other departments and committees in the church on publicity matters.
  • Design promotional posters, stickers and other publicity materials to boost the good image of the church.
  • Assist the publicity committee to carry out its functions.
  • Serve as secretary to the publicity committee.
  • Report all the activities of the general executive council and that of the general council.
  • Perform any other functions as may be assigned to him by the president, general executive council and the general council.

Even though it may not have been explicitly stated, the duty of projecting the image of the church is essentially public relations in nature. It is therefore apparent that the publicity man in the church, whether at the assembly level or zone or DCC is the chief public relations practitioner of the church.

In performing these duties, the publicity department of the church functions through a network of publicity secretaries from assemblies through to the districts, zones and DCCs.

The umbrella association for publicity secretaries formed in 2004 is Christ Apostolic Church Council of Publicity Secretaries (CACCOPS). The association is made up of members from assembly level up to DCC level. It has a chapter in each state where there are enough members to form a formidable chapter. Where the state is not strong enough to have a formidable chapter, the conference centre forms a chapter.

Each CACCOPS chapter is made up of publicity secretaries from assemblies, districts, zones/DCCs. They are all voluntary or freelancing publicity officers who report activities of the church in their various stations for publication in the church’s magazine. In most cases, they serve as freelance reporters for the national publications. Each chapter elects its own executive council members. From the state executives, members of the national executive committees are picked to form the national executive committee and the national working committee.

The department publishes the Christ apostolic magazine. It used to be published quarterly but the frequency of the publication is affected by high cost of printing materials, circulation hiccups and other economic factors that have reduced the frequency of major secular publications, such as Tell, Newswatch and The News. The magazine now publishes on special occasions.

The department, in the discharge of its duties, has also influenced many publications like interviews, columns in the Sunday Tribune, special publications on the church in all media of communication including website, online news platforms. The leadership of the church maintains a relatively high profile in the media as their views on national issues are frequently given prominent space in newspapers and prime time in the broadcast media.

The publicity department still publishes Christ apostolic magazine on regular basis and for special occasions. The department equally ensures proper editing of any statement, speech or any directive that emanates from the church to ensure they comply with standards set by the church leaders and enhancement of the church’s image.

At the general secretariat in Ibadan the department of publicity is headed by the director of publicity. He is a full time staff of the church at the national level unlike publicity secretaries at the local, zonal, and DCC levels who are part time and mostly voluntary workers.

Other staff in the general secretariat publicity department are:

1. The Technical Officer.

2. Reporters.

3. Photo Reporters.

4. Cameramen.

5. Video Cameramen.