Solomon Adeniyi Babalola
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Rev. Dr. Solomon Adeniyi Babalola (born April 20, 1929) is a retired Nigerian Baptist pastor. Born in Oke-Ila, Nigeria, he graduated in December 1949 from the three-year theology course (C. Theol.) of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomosho. He is reputed to be one of the youngest set (if not the youngest) of Nigerian nationals ever recruited into the ministry by American (Southern Baptist Convention) missionaries, during a 1940s drive led by Seminary President Dr. J.C. Pool, assisted by indigenous pastors. Solomon Adeniyi Babalola was consecrated a pastor at age 20.
Rev. Dr. S. Ade Babalola was married Dec 16, 1952 to Victoria Titiloye Alao of royal lineage, a daughter of Prince Isaac Adewale Alao of Ara, the founder of her hometown's First Baptist Church. Rev. Dr. Babalola and Rev. Mrs. Babalola have five children (three sons and two daughters), sixteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The four oldest grandsons are graduate professionals with information technology/computer science degrees, currently working across the United States.
On graduation in 1949 with a Certificate in Theology from the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Pastor Babalola was appointed pastor of the First Baptist Churches of two adjoining Nigerian towns, Masifa and Ishoko. During his pastorate in these two churches in the Zion Baptist Association, Babalola met his future wife during activities of the association. Miss Alao was leader of various Women's organizations in her churches - growing up in Ara and teaching in Olla, and she was Young Peoples' Leader for the Zion Baptist Association.
Foreign missions and later pastorates
Pastor Babalola and his new wife departed Nigeria by sea barely one week after their wedding, to commence a missionary assignment in Ghana (then the British Gold Coast colony), for which the young Pastor Babalola had earlier volunteered.
Babalola pastored the Dunkwa Baptist Church, now the First Baptist Church, Dunkwa-on-Offin. Pastor Babalola was also Travelling Pastor across the region. Mrs. Babalola leveraged the wide experience of her youthful activities within the Nigerian Women's Missionary Union to organize similar programs across the assigned missionary territory. On departure from Ghana in 1955, Pastor and Mrs. Babalola's family had increased by their first two sons.
On return to Nigeria, Pastor S. Ade Babalola was assigned as Travelling Pastor of the Niger Division which included the Nupe-speaking and Bwari-speaking territories of Nigeria. He was also pastor of the First Baptist Church, Bida, while Mrs. Babalola was appointed to serve as Headmistress to revive the long-dormant Baptist Day School.
At the end of this assignment, Pastor Babalola was awarded a scholarship to attend Oyo Baptist Boys High School at Olivet Heights (later renamed Olivet Baptist High School) where he passed the West African School Certificate Examinations that would enable him to qualify for a Bachelor's degree program.
Return to seminary
Babalola returned to the seminary for another three years and earned the Bachelor of Theology in 1965. While with her husband in Ogbomosho, Mrs. Babalola trained at the seminary for the three-year Certificate in Religious Education (CRE) in 1965 and won the Top Student Award in her combined class of C.Th. and CRE students. (At the time of her graduation from seminary, the Nigerian Baptist Convention had not begun recognizing women as pastors (see Ordination of women) or ordained ministers, but by the late 1990s, Mrs. Babalola was designated as Rev. Mrs. Victoria Titiloye Babalola, although she was actually consecrated in 1965).
Pastor Babalola had his longest pastorate of 17 years at the Oke-Ado Baptist Church, Ibadan - one of the leading churches of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. During this period, Rev. Mrs. V.T. Babalola worked as a Field Worker of the Nigerian Women's Missionary Union and served across the remote towns and villages of the Yoruba states of southwestern Nigeria. She worked in the mostly northwestern Yorubaland (old Oyo empire) and riverine southeastern Yorubaland. Rev. Mrs. Babalola rose to become a Director with the Nigerian Women's Missionary Union. Rev. Mrs. V.T. Babalola elected early retirement in 1987 to travel to the United States to assist her first son's family in the care of her first four grandsons.
Rev. Dr. Babalola left Nigeria twice for North America for his graduate theological education. He attended Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia (Canada) and earned his Master of Divinity (with an additional Bachelor's degree) in 1984.
He attended the Columbia Biblical Seminary & Graduate School of Missions, of Columbia International University, in Columbia, South Carolina (USA), and earned his Doctor of Ministry in 1995. Prior to these sojourns in North America, Rev. Dr. Babalola had twice travelled outside Nigeria. The first time was soon after he started his pastoral career, when he travelled to Ghana as a missionary pastor from December 1952 to December 1955. The second was when he was a sponsored candidate to Switzerland (one of only two Nigerian Baptist pastors) attending ICOWE in July 1974, the First International Congress on World Evangelization which was held in Lausanne.
Return to Nigeria
On his return to Nigeria, Rev. Dr. Babalola was appointed (after formal age-mandatory retirement from pastorate of the Nigerian Baptist Convention) by his 'alma mater', the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomosho, as Director of Academic Affairs, (also termed in other jurisdictions variously as Provost, Dean, Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs). As Director of Academic Affairs, Rev. Dr. Babalola led the process for starting a series of new postgraduate programs at Master and Doctorate levels, and as professor, taught a number of graduate and undergraduate courses.
Rev. Dr. Babalola and Rev. Mrs. V.T. Babalola retired from official pastoral and academic duties to Oke-Ila Orangun, capital of Ifedayo Local Government, in Osun State. At Oke-Ila, they continue to provide advisory services as they attend the two Baptist churches, and provide general community leadership. More formally, Rev. Dr. Babalola continues to serve since his election at the beginning of the 21st century as President and Chairman of the Board of Oke-Ila Orangun Parapo, his home-town's umbrella association for community development. The election of a formal Executive separate from the Board in December 2009, finally gave some respite and allowed Rev. Dr. and Rev. Mrs. Babalola to resume their frequent overseas travel to visit their children and grandchildren. Rev. Dr. Babalola is also a member of the Board of Directors of Egbe Omo Ibile Igbomina a community development association of the Igbomina sub-ethnic group of the Yoruba.
- The Directory of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, 1981. Nigerian Baptist Convention, Ibadan, Nigeria
- Year Book of the Women's Missionary Union 1987, Nigerian Baptist Convention. Nigerian Baptist Convention, Women's Missionary Union. Ibadan, Nigeria
- Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary - Directory and Year Book 1999 . Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary. Ogbomosho, Nigeria