BE GUIDED BY THE TENETS OF INCLUSIVITY, UNITY AND TEAM WORK.
The Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel K. Asante, Presiding Bishop of the MethodistChurchGhana has urged the newly inaugurated North America Mission.
By Ernest Tetteh
The Presiding Bishop of the MethodistChurchGhana, the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel K. Asante, has urged the congregations and ministers of the newly inaugurated North America Mission of the Methodist Church Ghana, to regard as the Mission’s defining guidelines, the principles of inclusivity, unity, and team work. He was addressing Reverend Ministers, delegates and congregations from about 45 Ghanaian Methodist Churches in the United States and Canada at a very impressive and solemn Proclamation Service at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA.
Exactly two years after initiating a move to bring the Ghana Methodist Churches in the United States and Canada under the umbrella of the Methodist Church Ghana, the Presiding Bishop has, at a Proclamation Service held in Chevy Chase, Maryland, as part of the Annual General Meeting (AGM), formally established, constituted and inaugurated the North America Mission of the Methodist Church Ghana.
The Administrative Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Asamoah Okyere, who was with the Presiding Bishop, also officiated at the Service. He very extensively elaborated on the structures of the Methodist Church Ghana with regard to the privileges and responsibilities of the missionary Churches in the diaspora. He particularly stressed on the structures of the Methodist Church Ghana upon which the North America Mission would be fashioned. To discourage the hitherto rampant bouts of secessions, splits and altercations among the Churches, the Administrative Bishop emphasized that a document adopted at a Stakeholders/Roundtable Conference in May 2010 at Aburi in Ghana, which has come to be known as the Aburi Document, imposes severe sanctions and discipline against any minister who engineers, colludes with, supports or incites any person or group of persons to secede from any recognized missionary society of the Mission.
The Churches, spread through about 28 States in the U.S. and Canada, with a combined congregation strength of about two thousand, had hitherto operated in various degrees of connexionality with the mother Church in Ghana. And without that overarching central control and authority, they had been plagued with a generally chaotic situation of disunity and strife, such as was aptly described in Isaiah 53:6 “Allwe like sheep have gone astray each to his own way…” When convenient, those Churches had resorted to the Methodist Constitution and Standing Orders. At other times they had applied rules and laws from the religious bodies to which they were affiliated; but to a large extent, they had operated on rules and instructions of their own choosing and making.
Sensing that the Methodist Church Ghana itself had not exercised that commitment and oversight as the central authority to its Churches abroad, the Presiding Bishop, in May 2010, convened a three-day Stakeholders/Roundtable Conference attended by delegates and Rev. Ministers from all the Ghana Methodist Churches in the U.S. and Canada at Aburi in Ghana where a Policy Document for Mission Work in North America was unanimously adopted. That document carefully outlined the vision, mission and core values of the North America Mission, and effectively covered the following categories of the Methodist Churches in North America:
Ghana Methodist Churches directly linked with the Methodist Church Ghana.
Ghana United Methodist Churches who are members of the United Methodist Church, USA.
Methodist Churches within the United MethodistChurch of Canada.
Ghanaian Methodists in the United MethodistChurch, the United Church of Canada and other ChristianChurches in North America.
Excepting that those Churches under the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, USA, and the doctrinal authority of other religious bodies in the U.S and Canada to which some of the Ghanaian Churches were affiliated, still have a free dispensation to continue with their existing relationships. But for reasons of inclusivity, what has come to be known as the “Aburi Document” has established the Fellowship of Ghana Methodist Churches in North America to which shall belong the various inter-generational Methodist Church Organizations of the North America Mission. They are supposed to meet once a year to fellowship and assist in promoting, collaborating and coordinating the vision and mission of the new organization, as well as support projects of the Methodist Church Ghana.
To the end of implementing the mission objectives and, arising from the decisions at the “Aburi Conference”, the Conference of the Methodist Church Ghana in August 2010, appointed and stationed the Rt. Rev. Benjamin K. Asare as the Supervising Missions Coordinator (SMC), for the North America Mission. In a historic first, Bishop Asare, SMC, arrived in WashingtonDC and assumed office on October 1, 2011. He has since been conducting familiarization and pastoral visits to most of the out-of-state Churches in both the U.S. and Canada, to preach and popularize the Methodist Constitution and Standing Orders alongside which the “Aburi Document” and the structures of the Mission would operate. One monumental achievement of the SMC since assuming office, is the re-unification of two equally formidable National Associations of Ghana Methodist Church Choirs. The high point of that achievement is the co-hosting in Herndon, Virginia, of this year’s annual choir conference dubbed a Unity Choir Conference, in recognition of the relentless reunification efforts by Bishop Asare.
The crowning event of the efforts by the Presiding Bishop to garner the missionary Churches back into the fold, was a grand Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the Proclamation of North America as a Mission of the Methodist Church Ghana – the first step towards becoming a diocese. The ceremonies were attended by over 40 Reverend Ministers of the MethodistChurches, the United Methodist Church of America, and about 1,000 delegates from all over the United States and Canada. There were representative dignitaries from the Office of Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland’s 18th District. The Deputy Ambassador, Mrs. Edith Haizel, herself a Methodist by marriage, represented His Excellency Daniel Ohene Agyekum, Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States.
The Presiding Bishop, in his keynote address, observed that one of the most notable legacies which John Wesley, founder of Methodism, bequeathed to the Church clearly pointed to a ministry that is hardly parochial in focus, but universal and global in its thrust; in obedience to the Great Commission enjoined by Christ Jesus to his disciples to ‘go ye into the world and make disciples of all nations’.
He charged the congregations to wake up to the realities as people who have believed and experienced the gospel of liberation, and are committed to bearing witness for Christ. Presiding Bishop Asante described the Church, in its missionary role and responsibility to the world, as not confined to any definable geographical area. It is an ecclesia, that is,a “called-out and sent-out community” intended to be the continuation of Christ’s ministry to the world’s poor, the down-trodden, the widowed and the orphaned.
Reminding the ordained Ministers of their obligation to itinerancy, the Presiding Bishop noted that “it is important to understand that our episcopacy is defined and informed by the Conference, in whose collective oversight of the Church, we have been graciously elected and appointed to participate”. He further explained that the episcopacy of the Methodist Church Ghana is connexional as opposed to diocesan episcopacy which, he observed, has the tendency to destroy connexional itinerancy, adding also that the Church’s connexionality is all-embracing, uniting and inclusive. It enables the Church to spread into all countries, races, colours and cultures in obedience to making disciples for Jesus Christ. He therefore charged the North America Mission to seriously evangelize, plant churches and facilitate pastoral care and fellowship among the Churches and fellow Ghanaians wherever they may be in the U.S. and Canada.
Touching on the virtues of team work, the Presiding Bishop admonished the delegates and the congregation that an outstanding team is the one with no factions nor sub-groups of any type. The outstanding team, he enjoined, works together without the “we” versus “them” attitude.
The Most Rev. Prof. Asante concluded his keynote address with a quote on unity culled from Dr. Marin Luther King’s Freedom march on Washington in 1963, and said, “Whenone person stands up, he is often not noticed; but when thousands stand together, they cannot be overlooked.
The highlight of that most solemn and impressive service was when, to formalize the relationship in which the individual Churches of the North America Mission would effectively submit to the authority, directives and supervision of the Methodist Church Ghana, as well as accept the Constitution and Standing Orders of the Methodist Church Ghana and the provisions of the “Aburi Document” as the authoritative policy documents to guide the work of the Mission in North America, the Rev. Minister of each Church, the Society Steward and a member each from the Laity, lined up to append their signatures to the Proclamation Document. All the component Churches of the Mission would duly recognize and accept the incumbency of Rt. Rev. Benjamin Asare, the Supervising Missions Coordinator (SMC), as the direct representative of the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, as well as the central authority in the communication flowchart in North America.
Floreat Methodist ChurchGhana! Floreat North AmericaMission!