The Diocese of Zonkwa was created in April 2005 and is in the Anglican Church Province of Abuja, one of ten provinces in the church of Nigeria. It is based in a town in the Southern part of Kaduna State and is the headquarters of Zangon Kataf local government area. The Diocese also covers most of Kachia and Lere local government areas as well. Following the election of a Christian president, Goodluck Jonathan, in April 2011 there was widespread rioting in areas of the country and parts of Zonkwa Diocese were seriously affected. There was further unrest in the area later in 2011.
Zonkwa falls into an area of Nigeria known as the “Middle Belt” which consists of a very large number of small tribal groups and is also where the Muslims and Christian religions meet. The first missionaries to arrive in this area began work in 1927 among a largely pagan population. The church has grown steadily and in the 1960's a small band of Anglican evangelists who supported themselves through farming gradually built up a number of congregations in the Zonkwa area.
During the 1970’s the first priest was posted to Zonkwa and gradually others priests and catechists (lay evangelists) were added to the team as the churches grew both in their numbers and their faith. Today there are fifteen deaneries in the Diocese of Zonkwa and eighty one congregations plus a further twelve outreach stations where it is hoped that a church will be planted in due course. Serving these congregations are thirty one ordained clergy and twelve catechists and so, despite the considerable increase in numbers of worshipers, there remain thirty one congregations without any priest or catechist.
The first Bishop of Zonkwa Diocese, The Right Reverend Duke Akamisoko, recently moved into the vital role of training clergy at Saint Francis of Assisi Theological College at Wusasa nearly 200 miles north of Zonkwa. It is here that many of the clergy are trained and indeed, a number of the Diocesan Bishops have received their training here over the years. Dr Walter Miller, the first CMS Missionary to go to Northern Nigeria began his work here in 1900 on an area of land given to him by the then Emir of Zaria.
The Right Reverend Jacob Kwashi became the second Bishop of the Diocese of Zonkwa in September 2011. Jacob and his wife both originate from the north of Nigeria and his older brother, Benjamin Kwashi is the Archbishop of the Province of Jos. At one time in the nineteen eighties he was the Priest in charge of the Zonkwa Church District.
Following a visit to Coventry Diocese by the new Bishop of Zonkwa, the Right Reverend Jacob Kwashi, in the summer of 2011 the Stourdene Benefice decided to explore the possibility of a link with his Diocese. Zonkwa is a largely rural area as is the Stourdene Benefice. The Nigerian church is coping with growth and persecution and has a great deal that it can teach us here in the UK where we are struggling with decline and comparative ease. Bishop Jacob has graciously consented to a partnership with our benefice and we are looking forward to developing the link and learning from and praying for one another .
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Below: a map of Kaduna State local government areas. The Diocese of Zonkwa covers Katchia and Zangon Kataf local government areas