A lot of people know Moses Orimolade as the only founder of Cherubim and Seraphim, but the church was actually co-founded with a woman. The name of the woman, who co-founded the church is Christiana Abiodun Emanuel, born Abiodun Akinsowon (1907–1994), she was the co-founder of the Cherubim and Seraphim, an Aladura Christian denomination. After a schism in the church, she founded and led the Cherubim and Seraphim Society.
Abiodun Akinsowon was born in 1907 to a Saro (Sierra-Leone returnee) family. Daughter of a pastor, she was baptised in the Anglican Church in Lagos, Nigeria, where she attended elementary school. In 1920, she left school to join her aunt as a trader. In 1942, she married George Orisanya Emanuel, a civil servant, working in Lagos City Council.
In 1925, while watching a Catholic Corpus Christi procession, Emanuel reportedly fell into a trance for a fairly long time. She awoke from her coma after a healer, Moses Orimolade, arrived to pray for her. Waking, Emanuel claimed she had been visited by angels, who had taken her to heaven. As increasing numbers of visitors came to hear of her visions, Emanuel and Orimolade founded an interdenominational prayer group called the Cherubim and Seraphim. In 1927, Emanuel led an evangelical tour of Western Nigeria, condemning the worship of traditional gods and encouraging Christian prayer. In 1928, they established the Cherubim and Seraphim as its own independent church, within the Aladura tradition.
In 1929, the Cherubim and Seraphim underwent its first schism, with Emanuel founding the Cherubim and Seraphim Society and Orimolade founding the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim. The split arose from disputes within the group over the role of female leadership. Emanuel demanded to be recognised as the co-founder of the church. It was viewed by Orimolade, who denied she was a co-founder, as insubordination, and led to their eventual split. It was followed by other schisms, leading to the existence of more than 10 separate sects within the Cherubim and Seraphim Church.
After Orimolade’s death, Emanuel campaigned to be recognised as the supreme head of the church, claiming she had been discriminated against as a woman. In 1986, in an attempt to reunite the disparate groupings within the church, she was reinstalled as the leader of a united Cherubim and Seraphim Church.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MOSES ORIMOLADE
Moses Orimolade Tunolase was born 1879 into the royal family of Ayibiri in Ondo State of Nigeria. Orimolade could neither stand nor walk until he was well over five years old. In an effort to get Orimolade the help he needed, his parents took him to St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, the only church in the Yoruba town of Ikare in Western Nigeria at the time.
Orimolade was often left in the custody of the clergyman at the church (Missionary Society) establishment of the Anglican Communion. One night, the minister observed a strange light in the church and heard singing coming from inside. The minister discovered that the building was empty, except for Orimolade, who was about 5 years old at the time, sitting on the floor of the church in bright phosphorescence.
At age 12 years, Orimolade had a dream in which he was presented with a rod, a Royal Insignia and a crown. He woke with personal conversion to the Christian faith and a conviction of his calling to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, but his evangelistic mission did not begin until after a period of seven years in confinement. Some of his close associates at the time attributed this confinement to a protracted illness, while others regarded it as a period spent in training and preparation for his missionary work. Orimolade emerged from the confinement with partial recovery of the use of his legs and a remarkable ability to pray and preach the King James Version of the Bible that had been translated into the Yoruba language earlier by his tribesman, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther.
Orimolade started his missionary work as an itinerant preacher in Ikare (his Yoruba town of birth) with no formal education. He openly confronted witches and wizards in Irun (another Yoruba town) and pulled down the image of Osijora, one of the idols worshipped in the village. He condemned the prevalent practice of human sacrifice in Benin City. He consecrated a pool in Kaba town and rid it of the evil spirit the villagers had been worshipping. Orimolade converted many to the Christian faith. Traditional worshippers willingly gave up their charms and idol images for burning in response to his preaching and prayer. He directed his converts to the existing churches, irrespective of denominations, and where no church existed he helped establish one. Some of the churches established by Orimolade were actually established for the Church Missionary Society.