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Personal holiness tops agenda of Ghana clergy conference: The Church of England Newspaper, May 2, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa.
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Over 400 members of the Ghana Anglican Clergy Association have gathered at the Ofoase- Kokoben Pope John Paul II Formative and Retreat Centre in Bekwai Municipality to discuss the role of the church in Ghanian society. In his presidential address to the “Anglican Priests in the 21st century, Challenges and Prospects” conference on 25 April 2014 the Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, the Most Rev. Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, Archbishop of Ghana, urged priests to identify more closely with their people, by joining in their sorrows and joys. He urged priests to lives of personal holiness, and urged them to respond to the challenges of Pentecostalism by making worship innovative and alive. The five day gathering will examine clergy welfare and pension programmes, the health and future of Ghana’s 10 dioceses, and church-state cooperation in secondary education.

Ghana archbishop to lead Church of the Province of West Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

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The Archbishop of Ghana, the Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo, Bishop of Kumasi, has succeeded to the post of Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA) following the 21 Jan 2014 death of the Most. Rev. Tilewa Johnson, Bishop of the Gambia and Archbishop and Primate of West Africa. In a statement released last month the CPWA stated that under the terms of its constitution Dr. Sarfo “automatically” became the 10th “metropolitan archbishop of the CPWA”.  Formed in 1951 from the Anglican dioceses along the West African coast, in 2012 the CPWA divided into two internal provinces, Ghana and West Africa, in preparation for the secession of Ghana to form its own freestanding church. In 1979 the sixteen dioceses of Nigeria withdrew from the province to form the Church of Nigeria, now the Communion’s largest province in terms of active members.

Celibacy in marriage a sin, bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Marriage.
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Celibacy in marriage is a sin, the Bishop of Sunyani told his diocesan Mothers Union last week. The Rt. Rev. Festus Yeboah-Asuamah to the MU that wives who withhold sexual congress from their husbands are sinning against God and their husbands, prompting their husbands to commit adultery.  “This does not mean men should also over-stretch their wives in sex,” he observed, but noted some wives placed church work above sex.  “Some women had engaged themselves with religious activities to the extent that they do not even have time to satisfied their husbands sexually. This habit, the Bishop said, was a contributory factor to sexual promiscuity by men, which had torn homes and families apart.” The bishop affirmed the church’s teaching that marriage was a lifelong union of a man and a woman and whose purposes as set forth in the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer.  Mutual flourishing was based not on a mirrored set of responsibilities, but upon the complimentarity of man and woman. Husbands and wives had distinct rolls to fulfill in marriage, but it was a mistake to segregate the relationship into mens’ and women’s work. Each had a responsibility to raise the children, maintain the peace and purity of the marital home, and provide economic support, he said.

Archbishop of West Africa dead: The Church of England Newspaper, January 31, 2014 February 17, 2014

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The Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, Archbishop Tilewa Johnson, died last week of an apparent heart attack yesterday whilst playing tennis. He was 59.

The Most Rev Solomon Tilewa Johnson (27 Feb 1954 – 21 Jan 2014) was born in Bathurst in the Gambia and educated in Nigeria and at the University of Durham. Ordained deacon in 1979 and priest in 1980, in 1990 he was elected the sixth Bishop of the Gambia, the first Gambian elected to the post.

An avid sportsman, Archbishop Johnson was a member of the Gambia national basketball team from 1970 to 1977.

Archbishop Johnson attended the 2013 Gafcon conference in Nairobi, but had not joined the organization’s primates’ council as of the time of his death. In November 2013 he was elected to the central committee of the World Council of Churches at the group’s 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea.

In a letter of condolence, Archbishop Justin Welby wrote Archbishop Johnson’s “gifts were not confined exclusively to the Church, and he had an active role within the national life of Gambia.”

“I know that all my colleagues, the people of the Church of England, and especially those in the Diocese of Chichester with which the Diocese of the Gambia is linked, as well as your brothers and sisters across the Communion, will be holding [the church in the Gambia] in prayer and love at this time,” Archbishop Welby wrote.

Church leaders urge calm as Supreme Court recounts votes in Ghana’s General Election: The Church of England Newspaper, June 9, 2013, p 6. June 13, 2013

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Anglican leaders in West Africa have appealed to Ghanaians to set aside political passions and accept with good grace the forthcoming ruling by the country’s Supreme Court on the validity of the 2012 presidential election.

In a sermon delivered last week at a building dedication ceremony in Nkoranza, the Bishop of Sunyani, the Rt. Rev Festus Yeboah Asuamah, called on Christians, Muslims and followers of traditional African religions to pray for peace.

The opposition has challenged the results of the 7 December 2012 general election that selected a president and 275 members of Parliament. The Electoral Commission declared incumbent president John Mahama winner with 50.7 per cent of the vote cast with his principal challenger Nana Akufo-Addo receiving 47.74 per cent of the vote.

Mr. Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party has alleged fraud and filed a petition with the Ghanaian Supreme Court to review the election results. The NPP claims that the results as stated immediately after their counting in polling stations differ from those used by the Electoral Commission to tally regional votes. The court is currently comparing 11,000 “pink sheets” from local polling stations with the totals reported by the commission.

Dr. Asuamah called for Ghanaians to abide by whatever decision is down by the court and urged “peace and understanding among the people to prevent national division on partisan politics,” Ghana web reported.

Easter messages from across the Communion: The Church of England Newspaper, April 7, 2013 p 6. April 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Church of Nigeria, Church of the Province of Uganda, Church of the Province of West Africa, Scottish Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church.
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Easter messages from the overseas leaders of the Anglican Communion sounded a common theme this year of hope and joy. While the archbishops of the church touched upon issues of local concern, each spoke to the victory of Christ over death and the grave.

The Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali urged Christians not to lose heart in the face of economic and political uncertainties. “There could be social pressures in the country and many people might have lost hope. Many people no longer trust fellow human beings, but let the risen Lord Jesus whose victory over death we are celebrating this Easter give us a new hope.”

He also warned of the dangers of alcohol. “I urge our people not to celebrate [Easter] by drinking. They should go to church and worship the Lord and return home. This a time to repent and make our homes, offices, schools and business places more enjoyable and suitable to glorify God who gave us the greatest gift of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ,” he noted.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, also spoke of the joy found in life in Christ. “In his resurrection from the dead there is the glorious ‘yes’ of the fulfilment, actual and yet to come, of the promises and purposes of God. Through repentance and faith we share in his risen life and at its heart, our calling is to simply say the ‘Amen’ and glorify the God who has triumphed over sin and death.”

The GAFCON leader also urged Christians to reject the “ungodly innovations” coming from Western liberal churches which seek to “substitute human effort and speculation for divine grace and revealed truth.  It is a profound contradiction to say this ‘Amen’ and then go on, as some do, to deny the real physical resurrection of Jesus.”

When Christians say ‘no’ to false teaching it is for the sake of truth. “There can be no more positive a movement than one which gives an unqualified ‘Amen’ to the fulfilment of all God promises in Jesus Christ.”

The Archbishop of West Africa Dr. Tilewa Johnson said the Christian’s response to the sufferings was to turn towards God. “Where to start? We have tools and guidelines to hand. One of the greatest tools we have is prayer. Prayer is a means of communication with God.”

“As with so many things, it requires practice. We know what it is like when we become close to another human being – a husband, wife, brother, sister or close friend. In time it is possible to read their thoughts, and know what they are going to say before they say it. It is the same with God. To sit in the presence of God – maybe in silence; maybe with a few words – it is possible increasingly to come to know God and the will of God. Gradually we know the way to go,” the Gambian archbishop said.

The Primate of All Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said that when celebrating Easter it was “important” to “re-emphasize the incontrovertible fact that Jesus has risen from the dead and He is alive for ever. Through His resurrection power, therefore we can overcome all sorts of challenges we might have as an individual, as the Church of God and as a Nation.”

The Archbishop called on “all Christians and Nigerians as a whole to reaffirm their trust in God, and in corporate Nigeria.”

“Let us remain resolute and resilient, having our hope in the strength and power of the Almighty God. Our prayer for our country, Nigeria is that we shall overcome the present challenges of lingering insecurity: bloodshed, destruction of lives and property; poverty and political squabbles. We should keep hope alive of a corporate Nigeria,” he said.

Preaching at the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr in Cape Town, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba told the congregation he had just returned from a retreat in “frozen rural North Wales”, staying in an attic room overlooking the Irish Sea in the mountains of Snowdonia.

“I was there to follow the 30-days Full Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola,” he explained “to explore what God was wanting to do in my life.”

But even found that the spiritual journey did not end there as God was leading him “to integrate all I’ve experienced and learnt into my ministry and life” –  “And I certainly came back to find an awful lot had been going on,’ he said.

“The over-riding lesson of my retreat is that God, in his redeeming love, is everywhere. Nothing is beyond his care, or his desire to bring healing and new life to you, to me, to everyone,” the archbishop said.

“If you truly want to know what Easter is all about, look at the places where there are tough challenges, difficult issues, hard wrestling, painful contexts – and where God’s people nonetheless dare to go, and to stay for as long as it takes, witnessing to light and hope and life.” Archbishop Makgoba said.

In in his final Easter message before he retires in July the Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen reflected on his tenure in office. “As I think on my time as Archbishop, naturally I look back and try to judge myself – not with much success!” he says. “Like you, I have a real judge. Think how much more God, who knows all the secrets of our hearts, must be able to hold me to account. It should make us tremble.”

But Easter filled him with hope. “What happened at the first Easter reminds me of the love of God. Through the death of Jesus even I, and all of us, can have forgiveness as we turn to him in sorrow and trust him for our lives” he says.

“Our failures are not the last word over our lives. And, through the resurrection of Jesus I have a great and undeserved hope of my own resurrection and future,” Dr. Jensen said.

Archbishop-elect Philip Richardson of New Zealand reminded Kiwi Christians that “life comes out of death; the horror of crucifixion bears the fruit of redeemed and renewed humanity; the worst that we are capable of becomes the access way to that intimacy of relationship with God that Christ makes possible; it is in the bowl and towel of the servant that true power is expressed; it is in losing ourselves that we are found.”

The “heart of the message of Easter,” he observed was not the “passion or the suffering, but the resurrection.”

“As Martin Luther King rightly reminded us, ‘Hate begets hate, anger begets anger, killing only begets more killing. The only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend is the power of love’,” he said.

In a joint message released with the leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada celebrated the bonds of friendship between the two denominations and also urged Christians to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori the Episcopal Church stated: “Easter celebrates the victory of light and life over darkness and death.  God re-creates and redeems all life from dead, dry, and destroyed bones.  We are released from the bonds of self-obsession, addiction, and whatever would steal away the radical freedom of God-with-us.”

At Easter “our lives re-center in what is most holy and creative, the new thing God is continually doing in our midst,” she said, “practicing vulnerability toward the need and hunger of others around us” thereby cultivating “compassionate hearts.  We join in baptismal rebirth in the midst of Jesus’ own passing-over.”

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, writing from Juba where he was standing holy week with Archbishop Daniel Deng of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, wrote: “This Easter I am looking back,” he said – “I am asking, ‘What does it all mean?’ Whether in Juba or in Pittsburgh – and wherever you find yourself – what I testify is that the Gospel is my strength and my song, and that Jesus has become my salvation.”

“Easter is the day that lights and gives meaning to all the others, wherever I – we – spend it and with whomever I – we – spend it.  The tomb is empty.  The world, the flesh and the devil are defeated.  Jesus is alive.  In Him, the alien becomes familiar, loss becomes gain, sorrow becomes joy, and death becomes life.  This Easter I am also looking around and looking ahead,” Archbishop Robert Duncan wrote.

The Archbishop of Armagh Dr. Richard Clarke said what Ireland need this Easter was “confidence – a full–blooded confidence – that we actually want to allow Christ to run loose and dangerous in the world around us. We need to recover that spirited confidence to assert that Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is not our private property as churchy people, but is truly for the whole of society and the entire world.”

Dr. Barry Morgan the Archbishop of Wales in his Easter sermon preached at Llandaff Cathedral stated that: “If you wanted to sum up God’s work, He is a God who is in the rescue business.  That is the root meaning of the word ‘salvation’ – it means being saved from something or someone.”

“Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too as members of His body, are rescued from sin, despair, meaninglessness, disaster, and death,” he said, adding that “this offer of rescue, of salvation, by Jesus, is for all people not just for the select few – a bit like being rescued by a lifeboat.   When a life-station receives a distress signal, no enquiry is made about the social status of those who need rescuing, or whether they can pay for the service, or whether they are at fault for having got themselves into danger in the first place by being careless in going out without life jackets when a storm was forecast.  Lifeboats simply go to the rescue.”

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Bishop David Chillingworth of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane stated: “We greet with joy the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We look forward to welcoming many people to worship in our churches at Easter.  We hope and pray that they will experience joy and hope in our congregations.

“As disciples of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are people of the resurrection.  We are Easter people – shaped in our baptism through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We feel deeply the pain of the world and its people.  We bring compassion and care to the ministry which we exercise in our service of others.  We have a passion for justice.  We are also people of hope.  Because of the resurrection, we believe that good will triumph over evil and life over death.”

Liberia cancels diocesan convention: Anglican Ink, January 21, 2013 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of the Province of West Africa.
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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Jonathan Hart

The Bishop of Liberia, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Hart, writes that diocese has cancelled its 83rd Diocesan Convention scheduled for 6 Feb 2013 in Harper, Maryland County in Liberia.

In a statement released by the diocese, Bishop Hart said a shortage of funds prevented the diocese from holding its convention.

Founded by freed American and West Indian slaves in the 1830’s, the Episcopal Church has had a presence in the country since 1836 and was part of the Episcopal Church until 1979, when it transferred to the Church of the Province of West Africa.

In 1980 the government of President William Tolbert was overthrown in a coup led by Sergeant Doe.  The coup ended the dominance of political and economic dominance of the Americo-Liberian minority – the descendants of the settlers of the 1830s who comprised only 5 per cent of the population – but ushered in a generation of turmoil.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Red Mass for Ghana Law Society: The Church of England Newspaper, October 21, 2012 p 6. October 22, 2012

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Archbishop Justice Akrofi

In his final public appearance as Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, Archbishop Justice Akrofi told members of the judiciary at Ghana’s annual “red mass” last week their vocation was the pursuit of truth.

Dr. Akrofi, who retires on 29 October 2012 upon reaching his 70th birthday, told members of the law society of Ghana at the ceremony held at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Accra marking the start of the legal term: “You may be dispensing law. But in that role you are representing the community, its solidarity, its permanence, its continuity. So what is manifestly a legal exercise is actually a sacred, powerful sanction of authority to serve the solidarity, permanence and continuity of the society and nation.”

Truth is “sacred”, the archbishop said in his sermon at the 55th annual service, and a just judge must never play “fast and loose with it.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

West Africa elects two archbishops and a primate: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 14, 2012 p 6. October 12, 2012

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The Most Rev. Tilewa Johnson, Primate of West Africa and Bishop of The Gambia

The Bishop of the Gambia, the Rt. Rev. Tilewa Johnson has been elected the ninth primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA).

The 25-28 September 2012 special meeting of the provincial synod held at Cuttington College in Liberia also voted to form two internal provinces for the CPWA. Dr. Johnson was then elected Archbishop of the ecclesiastical province the Church of West Africa, while the dioceses of Ghana elected the Bishop of Kumasi, the Rt Rev. Daniel Yinka Sarfo as the first archbishop of the new province of the Church of Ghana. The full synod then elected Dr. Johnson to serve as primate of the province.

In a statement released after his election, Dr. Johnson, who had served as Dean of the Province, said his duties as primate were twofold. In addition to overseeing the administration of the province was tasked with “speaking God’s word to the Church and to the world as a representative of the CPWA in its corporate capacity.”

Educated in Nigeria and at the University of Durham, Dr. Johnson was elected Bishop of the Gambia in 1990 and has taken a leading role in ecumenical and interfaith work in Africa. He is also the first Gambian to be elected primate. His province will be comprised of the church in Cameroun, Cape Verde Islands, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. Archbishop Sarfo will oversee the church in Ghana.

The vote to create two internal provinces follows several years of negotiations within the synod over allowing the dioceses of Ghana to form their own province. Created in 1951, the 16 dioceses in Nigeria withdrew in 1979 to form the Church of Nigeria. Ghana, which comprises the majority of members in the CPWA has sought to withdraw for over ten years. However, the ACC in London had urged the province not to split until the church outside Ghana was financially self-sufficient.

The decision to create two internal provinces, each with its own archbishop, is an interim step in the process of full independence for Ghana, one of its bishops told CEN.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Liberia says no to gay marriage; The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012, p 6. October 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Marriage.
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Bishop Jonathan Hart of Liberia

The Anglican Bishop of Liberia, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Hart, has been elected President of the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC). On 14 Sept 2012 the 28th General Assembly of the LCC elected Bishop Hart to a two year term as head of the West African nation’s umbrella organization for Christian churches.

Dr Hart’s first formal action as head of the LCC came within the week when he joined with the head of the National Muslim Council of Liberia (NMCL) and the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia in urging the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf not to allow Liberia to be drawn into disputes over gay marriage and sectarian religious disputes.

The LCC and the NMLS condemned homosexual acts as being contrary to Christian and Muslim doctrines and called upon the government to rebuff foreign pressure to legalize same-sex marriages in Liberia.  They also rejected “all forms of attacks on religions and religious personalities” and called upon the press to be circumspect in their reporting and “regard peace as the yardstick against which they must measure the outcome of all their actions.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Uganda drops Anglican Mission in America: The Church of England Newspaper, September 2, 2012 p 6. September 2, 2012

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The Church of the Province of Uganda has withdrawn its ecclesial sponsorship for the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA).

Formed in 2000 as an American arm of the Church of the Province of Rwanda (PEAR) the AMiA under its leader Bishop Chuck Murphy split from PEAR last year.  While many of the AMiA’s congregations and two of its bishops have transferred to the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), some have remained loyal to Bishop Murphy – joining him in temporary oversight from the Anglican Church of the Congo.

Earlier this month the remaining AMiA clergy received a letter from its headquarters in Pawleys Island, South Carolina asking that they choose one of two new canonical jurisdictions.  In July Bishop Murphy, accompanied by his assistant the Rev. Canon Kevin Donlon, travelled to Africa to arrange alternative provincial oversight following the end of the Congo haven.

Last week the AMiA leader wrote that clergy may choose to affiliate with the Diocese of Bunyoro-Kitara of the Church of the Province of Uganda under Bishop Nathan Kyamanywa, or the Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin of the Church of the Province of West Africa in Ghana under Bishop Edmund Dawson Ahmoah.  Clergy were allowed to choose which jurisdiction they wanted to enter, or the office in Pawleys Island would assign a jurisdiction.  Clergy were asked to respond by 31 August.

However, on 21 August, the Provincial Office of the Church of the Province of Uganda in Kampala released a statement saying:

“The Rt. Rev. Nathan Kyamanywa, Bishop of Bunyoro-Kitara Diocese, in consultation with the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, has withdrawn his offer, effective immediately, to provide canonical residency to clergy in the AMiA, the Society of Mission and Apostolic Works.”

The withdrawal of the offer to provide canonical residency for AMiA clergy living in the U.S. was not unexpected, as Uganda was the first of the African provinces to offer ecclesial sanctuary to disaffected Episcopal clergy to relinquish its oversight to the Anglican Church in North America.

The General Secretary of the Church of the Province of West Africa, the Rev. Canon Anthony Eiwuley stated: “It is news to all of us that the Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin has some kind of association with AMiA.”

Canon Eiwuley said he would make further inquiries, but “nowhere in any of our meeting have we given approval to any relationship with AMiA.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 48, August 18, 2012 August 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, AMiA, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York, Canon Law, Church of England, Church of the Province of Uganda, Church of the Province of West Africa, South Carolina.
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Not a week goes by (even in August) when the Unscripted team can’t dig up some interesting news. Kevin and George discuss the “new thang” with AMiA and the turmoil at Pawley’s Island. They also reveal some Crown Commission secrets, Anglican Job Postings and Affinity Dioceses. Peter Ould talks about an Englishman trying to sell more books and Allan gives some interesting history about leaving and staying in TEC at the same time.

Former Liberian president found guilty of war crimes: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2012 p 7 May 21, 2012

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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor

Church leaders have applauded the guilty verdict handed down last week against former Liberian President Charles Taylor, saying the conviction of a former head of state for war-crimes is a landmark victory for the rule of law – and a warning to those responsible for atrocities that they will be held to account for their crimes.

“Charles Taylor’s conviction sends an important message not only to his victims and supporters but also to the wider world community that all deserve justice and that no one is beyond accountability for crimes against humanity,” said the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Foster, whose diocese is linked with the Church of the Province of West Africa.

Bishop Foster told The Church of England Newspaper: “This step towards justice will hopefully send a clear message and assist the growing stability of both Sierra Leone and Liberia.”

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Cape Palmas Andrew Karnley told the Catholic NGO Aid to the Church in Need the verdict sends a “strong signal, and not just for Liberia.”

“The important fact is that Taylor was taken to account. This is a clear signal: those who hold responsibility must take responsibility for their actions, Bishop Karnley said.

On 26 April 2012 the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) found Taylor guilty on multiple counts of war crimes – the first head of state convicted by an international tribunal since the Nuremberg trials.  In March 2003 Taylor was indicted on multiple counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  While serving as President of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, and as commander of the Libyan-backed rebel group the National Patriotic Front for Liberian from 1989 to 1997, Taylor was found to have helped plan, order and encourage the murder, rape, mutilation and terrorism of civilians, promoting sexual slavery and recruiting child soldiers.

Under the terms of the peace agreement that ended the civil war, Taylor left Liberia and went into exile in Nigeria.  But in 2006 he was extradited to Sierra Leone at the request of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to stand trial for war crimes after he violated the terms of his exile by re-entering Liberian politics.  A court set up by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations tried nine leaders including former President Taylor – but security concerns eventually prompted the trial to be moved from Freetown to The Hague, where the verdict was handed down last week.

The guilty verdict was a “watershed moment in the fight to hold high-level perpetrators accountable”, said Gilles Yabi, the International Crisis Group’s West Africa Project Director. “It is also a momentous day for the victims’ families, who have waited patiently for this ruling since the court began its work.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Ghanaian call to clean up politics: The Church of England Newspaper, March 23, 2012 March 22, 2012

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President John Atta Mills of Ghana

A Ghanaian bishop has denounced the country’s political culture, urging political leaders to refrain from trading demeaning insults and using cash and favours to buy votes.

Speaking at an ecumenical prayer service in Ho at the close of the National Week of Fasting, Prayer and Thanksgiving celebrations marking the 55th anniversary of independence, Bishop Mathias Medadues Badohu of Ho in Eastern Ghana said politicians should mend their ways.  “These supposed representatives of the people want to be seen as receptacles of power in between elections and then come baiting people on approach of elections with gifts for their votes.”

“Good service to the people should be enough to put politicians in the reckoning of voters and not gifts of money,” the bishop said according to local press accounts of the service.

Ghanaian voters were not free from blame, the bishop added, saying a culture of civic responsibility and reasoned discourse could not be imposed, but must arise from the people.

A report by the Voice of America (VOA) last week noted that since the government opened the airwaves to private broadcasters in 1994, the country’s political discourse had taken on a coarse tone with politicians trading personal jibes and radio shows permitting callers to denigrate politicians.

President John Atta Mills has called for a cease fire in the political war of words, as the country prepares for elections in December.  But the freedom to give voice to grievances over the radio has proven to be a commercial hit for radio stations.  The VOA quoted one Accra resident who actively supported one of the major political parties as saying insulting the opposition was a sport.

“They also have other people who insult leaders of my party and once they bring the insults we would also reply likewise. I don’t really see this ending now. It’s going to go back and forth and I don’t mind,” he explained.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Former president’s wife should stay out of politics, bishops say: The Church of England Newspaper, July 8, 2011 p 6. July 13, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Politics.
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Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, former first lady of Ghana

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders have urged the wife of Ghana’s former leader, Jerry Rawlings not to contest the leadership of the country’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) party.  The bid by Mrs. Nana Rawlings for the ‘flagbearership’ of the NDC was an end run around the constitution, said Bishop Daniel Allotey of the Cape Coast, and would damage Ghana’s fragile democracy.

Speaking at a political forum on July 2, Bishop Allotey, who served as a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1992 Constitution for Ghana’s Fourth Republic said Mrs. Rawlings bid to become party leader threatened to return Ghana to the era when men, rather than laws, governed the country.

“Mrs Rawlings’ bid is a violation of article 69(1) of the Constitution which states modalities for removing the President; what is going on constitutes an attempt to remove the President of Ghana,” he said according to an account given by the Ghana News Agency.

“The fourth republic since 1993 has established a democratic tradition – the sitting President is spared the vigorous, distractive tendencies and divisive mechanism of campaigning for a second term.

“The two former Presidents enjoyed it, and Professor John Evans Atta Mills should have been allowed to go through the same evolving tradition,” Bishop Allotey said.

In 1979 Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings led a group of junior military officers in a coup, and ruled Ghana as a military dictator in 1979 and from 1981 to 1992.  In 1993 he was elected president of the Fourth Republic from 1993 and reelected to a second term in 1997.

Barred by the constitution from standing in any election, Pres. Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as the NDC’s presidential candidate in 2000. However, the NDC candidate lost the election to the rival candidate John Agyekum Kufour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2000 and again in 2004, but was elected president in 2008.

The power struggle within the NDC was diverting the energies of the government from more pressing tasks, the bishop said.

“The President was elected by Ghanaians and can only be removed by Ghanaians. It is not the duty of the party or any individual within to tell us that the President is not performing.  Judgment day is at the next general election not at a party congress,” Bishop Allotey said.

Speaking at 29th ‘Martyrs’ Day’ remembrance service on June 30, commemorating the murder of three high court judges by a military death squad in 1982, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of Accra called for renewed vigilance to prevent political passions from spilling over into violence.

Ghana’s political development was lagging, the archbishop said, as too many leaders had succumbed to a “power complex” that put their interests above the nation.

Suffragan bishop named for Kumasi: The Church of England Newspaper, June 3, 2011 p 8. June 3, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa.
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The West African House of Bishops at their March 2011 meeting in Conakry

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishops of the Church of the Province of West Africa have appointed a suffragan bishop for the Diocese of Kumasi in Ghana. On May 22, the Rev. Canon Cyril Ben-Smith, the Vice-Dean of St Nicholas Theological Seminary in Cape Coast was consecrated at St. Cyprian’s Cathedral by Archbishop Justice Akrofi to serve as area bishop responsible for the Mapong and Kumawu regions of the growing diocese.

Dr. Ben-Smith earned a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in 2009, and an M.Phil from the University of Cardiff, as well as a Licentiate in Theology from St Nicholas Seminary. At St. Nicholas, Dr. Ben-Smith taught courses in Comparative Religion and the Philosophy of Religion.

The preacher at Dr. Ben-Smith’s consecration, Bishop Thomas Dibo Elango of Cameroon, addressed the difficult social conditions facing West Africa. The bishop condemned the rise in alcohol abuse, prostitution, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and sexual promiscuity—calling them signs of a society that had lost its way. Bishop Elango reminded the new bishop that his was a public calling, and that he should be a model of rectitude, holiness and moral strength for those under his charge.

West African Archbishop to retire: The Church of England Newspaper, May 27, 2011 p 7. May 27, 2011

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Archbishop Justice Akrofi

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of West Africa has called for the election of a bishop-coadjutor and has announced his intention to retire as primate.

However, Archbishop Justice Akrofi’s announcement was coupled with a warning against politicking amongst the clergy for the post.  It was “an open secret that already there is jockeying for the position.,” he said, but called such maneuverings vulgar and “unsavory”.

The West African archbishop, a member of the Gafcon primates’ council, who also had been elected as alternate representative from Africa to the Primates Standing Committee before resigning in protest last year, broached the topic of his coming retirement during his presidential address to the Diocese of Accra Synod held at St Paul’s Church in Accra on April 30.

Archbishop Justice Akrofi reported the diocese had purchased a new residence for the bishop, but added “the incumbent is not moving into it, clearly in preparation for my successor. My experience has left me in no doubt that it is psychologically, physically and emotionally unhealthy for the Diocesan to live on the same premises as the work place.”

“Let me now turn to a very important issue which is an open secret. In accordance with the Diocesan and Provincial Constitutions, I shall have to retire at the age of 70,” on Oct 29, 2012, he said.  The archbishop announced a special session of synod for Jan 21, 2012 to elect a co-adjutor, who would be consecrated on June 24.

Archbishop Akrofi stated he had informed the Provincial Synod at its March meeting in Conakry, Guinea of his pending retirement, and “by this announcement it has now become official that the search for the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Accra is on.”

The question of campaigning for high office in the church was also discussed at the provincial synod, the archbishop noted.  His fellow bishops asked “for a pastoral letter from the Primate to go out, admonishing that politics may not be allowed to hijack authentic, essential spirituality that should characterize such quest” for a new bishop.

“While Scripture itself says, ‘it is good to aspire to the bishopric’, we should nevertheless allow God the Holy Spirit to guide the process and that, in any event, the process, style and atmosphere surrounding the search shall be consistent with the standards of ‘fruit of the Spirit’ and values of the Kingdom of God. That is a task laid on each one of us. May God the Holy Spirit lead us to the candidate after His own heart,” Archbishop Akrofi said.

1000 dead in Ivory Coast church massacre: The Church of England Newspaper, April 8, 2011 p 7. April 9, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa.
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President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Over a 1000 Christians have been killed by Muslim soldiers at a mission station in Duékoué in the Ivory Coast, the aid agency Caritas has reported.

Details of the massacre remain unclear, with conflicting reports on the number of dead.  However, wire service reports and news bulletins released by the Salesian Info Agency (ANS) report the killings began on March 29 and are tied to the civil war between President Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara.

Anglican leaders in West Africa have lamented the growing unrest, and have called upon Christians to turn to the Scriptures and reflect on the paradox of a region endowed by God with tremendous material resources that is also home to tremendous poverty, sickness and political instability.

On March 31, ANS reported that approximately 10,000 refugees had taken shelter at the Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duékoué some 300 miles west of the capital of Abidjan near the border with Liberia.  “The flow of refugees is extraordinary. The arrival of those from the Carrefour district together with those from other parts of the city means that the courtyard of the parish has quickly become totally occupied,” Roman Catholic news service said.

Over the past two weeks Ouattara’s “Republican Forces” have moved south from their bases in the predominantly Muslim northern region of the Ivory Coast and have taken the capital Yamoussoukro and the major port of San Pedro.  The Republican Forces, with Western backing, have now encircled President Gbagbo’s forces in the commercial capital of Abidjan.

The killings began when the Republican Forces, whom international observers declared the winner of the December 2010 election against President Gbagbo, moved into the region—which voted heavily for President Gbagbo.  The attackers were described by The Herald Scotland as “soldiers descended from Burkina Faso immigrant Muslim families loyal to Ouattara.”

According to the International Committee for the Red Cross, the victims were mainly men who had been shot and left for dead.  The UN has reported that “hundreds” of bodies have been found around the mission, but Caritas estimated that over 1000 were killed.

On April 4, ANS reported “at present there are only two Salesians there who have to try to respond to the appeals for help from about 20,000 people. UNO is helping to provide some provisions for the mission but distribution is not easy and the quantity is not sufficient to satisfy all the needs.”

The violence in the Ivory Coast was a sign of the failure of the region’s political and social institutions, church leaders said.

At the close of the March 21-25 Synod of the Church of the Province of West Africa held in Conakry in neighboring Guinea, Anglican leaders gave thanks to “God for the abundant grace of natural and mineral resources” of West Africa, but noted they “also had reason to be pained by and to be penitent for the numerous and seemingly incessant hardships and misfortunes made manifest in political instability, wanton destruction of human life and property, displaced and in-between peoples.”

“We are struck by the irony that the region so well endured by God has become almost synonymous with disease” and “poverty,” the synod said, and urged a turn to Scripture for the “discernment of the will of God” for the future of West Africa.

“We urge all Christians to be pro-active as well in joining others to create structures that will approximate to the vision of the Kingdom of God” and affirmed the propriety of Christian “engagement with socio-economic-political issues as a means of realizing of God’s kingdom on earth and reaching out to the world outside the Church.”

Bishop of Liberia dies: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 14, 2011 p 6. January 17, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa.
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Bishop Edward Neufville in 2009

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Liberia writes that his predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Edward W. Neufville II died on Jan 10, 2011 after a brief illness at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.  He was 74.

Elected bishop of the West African diocese in 1995, Bishop Neufville returned from exile in the US to Liberia to take up his post at the close of the six year civil war that killed over 150,000 people and drove over 750,000 people out of a population of 2.6 million into exile. Much of the diocese’s infrastructure and property was destroyed in the violence and its clergy and people scattered by the war.

Founded by American missionaries in the 1840’s, the Diocese of Liberia was a part of the US Episcopal Church until 1982, when it transferred to the Province of West Africa.  While the diocese provided leadership in the form of Archbishop George Browne for the Church of West Africa, the weakening of financial ties with the Episcopal Church came shortly before the start of the civil wars that all but destroyed the country.

The church-affiliated Cuttington College, West Africa’s oldest university and the diocese’s theological school, was wrecked in the fighting after one of the rebel armies used its facilities as a base camp.  Bishop Neufville’s episcopate was dedicated to rebuilding both Liberia and the Episcopal Church in the wake of the civil wars.

Educated at Cuttington College, Bishop Neufville served as priest of St. Martin on the Mountain in Yekepa, Nimba County, and was appointed archdeacon of the church’s Northern Archdeaconry, serving Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties. Elected suffragan bishop in 1980, then bishop in 1995, Bishop Neufville retired in 2007 upon reaching his 70th birthday.

Church call for Ivory Coast president to step down: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 24, 2010 p 6. December 26, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Politics.
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President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in West Africa have called upon President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast to concede defeat in last month’s presidential election, and step down from office.

Speaking to his diocesan synod on Dec 15, the Bishop of Kumasi, Dr. Daniel Yinkah Sarfo called upon President Gbagbo to go.  On Dec 3 the country’s Constitutional Council declared President Laurent Gbagbo winner of the Nov 28 president election – rejecting results published the previous day by the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI).

The CEI had declared Alassane Ouattara the winner, with a 54 to 46 per cent majority ove President Gbagbo.  However the Constitutional Council threw out ballots from seven northern departments citing “flagrant irregularities” in the voting, and declared Gbagbo president by a 51 to 49 per cent margin.

The United States and the EU have backed Ouattara’s victory, while the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States have suspended the Ivory Coast, and called on the president to step down.

The country’s boarders have been closed since Dec 2, and violent clashes between supporters of President Ggabo and Mr. Outtara have been reported.  Ouattara’s Prime Minister-designate, Soro Guillaume, on Dec 13 said an Ouattara government would install its director of state television and begin working in ministerial offices by the end of the week. The pro-Ouattara Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la Democratie et la Paix (RHDP) has called on Ivoirians to march in support of the move.

President Gbagbo has called out the army to support his regime, and on Dec 15 military commanders said they would hold the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) peacekeeping mission responsible for any violence resulting from demonstrations. The UN has said it recognizes Ouattara as president and UN troops have been guarding the Abidjan hotel where Ouattara and his government are based.

Bishop Yinkah Sarfo urged Ghana to mark what was happening in the neighboring Ivory Coast.  Elections should not be seen as “do or die affairs”, and those who put themselves forward for office, must honour the voter’s choices.

The bishop also warned that the appeals for tribal and religious solidarity had no business in politics.   He urged Ghana to remain united and combat the scourge of tribalism which had done so much to retard the development of Africa.

Archbishop Tutu attacks UN collusion with African dictator: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2010 June 18, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Corruption, UN.
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President Teodoro Obiang of Equitorial Guinea

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Nobel laureate and former Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu has criticized UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, for agreeing to sponsor a prize named in honour of the dictator of Equatorial Guinea, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

On June 11 Archbishop Tutu released an open letter to UNESCO saying he was “appalled” that the UN was “allowing itself to burnish the unsavory reputation of a dictator.”

The UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences was created to recognize “scientific achievements that improve the quality of human life” and the first award is expected to be made this month.

Human Rights groups and anti-corruption campaigners have accused Mr. Obiang of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from the treasury of his oil-rich West African state, while the majority of its people live in abject poverty.  Mr. Obiang seized power from his uncle in 1979 and was re-elected last year with 95 per cent of the vote.

“The rule of President Obiang,” Archbishop Tutu said, “has been marked by corruption and abuse.”

He called upon UNESCO to use the Obiang prize’s £2 million endowment “to benefit the people of Equatorial Guinea—from whom these funds have been taken—rather than to glorify their president.”

“The people of Equatorial Guinea should share in the wealth generated by their country’s huge oil reserves. Instead, they endure poverty and oppression. Their president and his associates enjoy lavish homes and trips abroad, and money that should go to the people winds its way to private bank accounts,” the former archbishop said.

The American ambassador to UNESCO on June 14 sent a letter to the organization’s director general backing Archbishop Tutu’s call to suspend the Obiang prize.  Ambassador David T. Killion said that a suspension would give time “for quiet consultations among member states to find a way forward,” consistent with UNESCO’s “basic values.”

The Bible is the hope for Africa’s future, archbishop says: The Church of England Newspaper, April 29, 2010 May 3, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Biblical Interpretation, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa.
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Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Africa will not rise from poverty until its peoples take the message of the Gospel to heart, the Archbishop of West Africa said in the keynote address to the African Bible Society meeting in Accra, Ghana last week.

And for this to happen, Africa needed more Bibles, Archbishop Justice Akrofi told the delegates from 30 denominations drawn from 12 African nations at the start of the four day conference on April 15.  While the world was awash in print with over 300,000 new books published each year, only one book, the Bible, was capable of transforming the world, he said.

“The Bible has been a transformer and a unifying force bringing people of different races and colour” together into a “mutual respect”, the archbishop said.  And it was only when these conditions were fulfilled, would Africa rise from poverty.

Archbishop Akrofi, the Bishop of Accra and President of the Bible Society of Ghana urged church leaders to return to the Bible as their guide.  “Our fellowship has transcended denominations, the Bible and the Christian faith has promoted tolerance for peoples of other faiths as all humanity derives its existence from the one God,” he said.

While economic aid and development assistance from the West was welcome, by itself it would not transform Africa, he said.  The continent was blessed with “vast human and natural resources,” but tribalism and ethnic strife had retarded the continent’s growth.

However, it was an exciting time to be a Christian in Africa, as the faith was growing rapidly across the continent and because “Christians were change agents”, there was hope for Africa’s future, the archbishop said.

David Hammond, Africa Area Secretary for the Bible Society told the conference the Bible Society was seeking to distribute Bibles across the continent.  The message of the Bible, he said, would transform Africa and was the only lasting way to put a stop to Africa’s endemic corruption, wars and social evils.

Two dead after sectarian clashes in Liberia: CEN 3.05.10 p 6. March 16, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Islam.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Charges of witchcraft and ritual murder have led to the deaths of two people and the destruction of an Episcopal church in sectarian clashes in Northern Liberia last week.

St Theresa’s Episcopal Church in the town of Vionjama in Lofa County along Liberia’s border with Guinea and the town’s Roman Catholic and Baptist churches were destroyed and a dozen people were injured after fighting broke out between Christians and Muslims after the body of a child was found near Vionjama’s mosque. Some of the child’s body parts had been removed, raising fears of child sacrifice or ritual murder.

The Reuters news agency reported on Feb 27 that the government had imposed a curfew and dispatched troops to bring the area under control.

Tensions between Christians and Muslims have been high across West Africa this year, with deadly sectarian riots having erupted in Nigeria and Guinea leaving hundreds dead. In a speech last month in Port Harcourt, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, urged Christians to take the first step in breaking free from the cycle of violence plaguing the region.

Christians should not return violence with violence, but be as “salt and light in the world”. He linked the political chaos in the region to a malign combination of ethnic and sectarian divisions coupled with rampant corruption.

It takes but a “few genuine Christians” to “transform the nation,” he said on Feb 23, urging Anglicans to have no truck with corruption. “Those who validate evil by connivance are not worthy to be called Christians,” he said.

Ghana warning over church divisions: CEN 11.13.09 p 7. November 24, 2009

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The Anglican Church in Ghana is losing members to the Catholic and independent churches due to the Communion’s divisions over gay bishops and blessings, the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of West Africa learned last week.

In a meeting following the consecration of the new Bishop of Sunyani on Oct 25, the rector of the Sunyani Polytechnic Institution, Prof. Kwasi Nsiah Gyabaah warned the bishops the Anglican church’s place in Ghanian society was imperiled.

While the church had played an important role in the social and economic development of the country, the disputes ranging in the wider Anglican world had harmed the reputation of the church. “Although many of you may not share my opinion, the Anglican Church in particular, is now in a sorry state,” he said.

The bishops were told they could not control the image of the church, which had been damaged by developments outside the country, as well as by the church’s slow response in explaining its stance on the issues to its people.

A divided and uncertain Anglican Church also had to compete with the sports, popular culture and other recreational activities in vying for the attention of people. However, a return to an authoritarian model of church governance was not the answer, he said, urging the church to be both culturally relevant as well as firmly tied to the unchanging word of God.

On Oct 25, the Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of Accra consecrated the Dr. Festus Yeboah-Asuamah, a Sociology Lecturer as Bishop of Sunyani.

A parish priest and lecturer in sociology at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Bishop Yeboah-Asuamah was educated at KNUST, the University of Ghana, International Theological Seminary and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. He succeeds the Rt. Rev. Thomas Brient who retired in December 2008 after eleven years in office.

Diocese partners with bank to distribute mosquito nets: CEN 10.23.09 p 8. October 24, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Health/HIV-AIDS, NGOs.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Bo has partnered with the Standard Chartered Bank to distribute 16,000 mosquito nets in the Bo and Pujehon districts of Sierra Leone as part of the “Nets for Life” programme.

An initiative of Episcopal Relief & Development, Nets for Life works with local partners in Africa to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to stop the spread of malaria.

The World Health Organization estimates there are approximately 250 million cases of malaria each year, the majority occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly one million people die from the mosquito-born disease each year, mostly children younger than five years old.

Diocese partners with bank to distribute mosquito nets

Ninety per cent of all malaria deaths occur in Africa, and the disease also retards economic growth, costing an estimated $12 billion in lost productivity in Africa each year, ERD reports.

The Nets for Life programme is active in 17 African countries and has benefited more than 11 million people, ERD stated. Partners in the distribution programme include ExxonMobil, Standard Chartered Bank, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, Starr International Foundation and the White Flowers Foundation.

The CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Sierra Leone, Albert Saltson, said that in addition to the nets, the programme will provide training in the prevention of the disease. “Standard Chartered Bank is committed to fighting malaria in Africa because its effects kills and also slows the very economies in Africa that we are helping to develop,” he told the local media.

The Rt Rev Emmanuel JS Tucker, Bishop of Bo said the diocese would ensure an equitable distribution of the nets, and would coordinate the anti-malaria education campaign in the largely rural Southern Province of Sierra Leone.

Ghana allows women priests: CEN 6.26.09 p 6. July 1, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Women Priests.
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Church of England Newspaper logo

Justice Akrofi

The Most Rev. Justice Akrofi, Primate of West Africa and Archbishop of Accra

The Diocese of Accra has voted to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood at its 20th triennial synod on June 20.

While legislation permitting women priests was adopted by the Church of the Province of West Africa in 2000, only Liberia and The Gambia have passed enabling legislation and ordained women clergy.

In his closing address to the Synod, the Primate of West Africa and Archbishop of Accra, Dr. Justice Ofei Akrofi said that after ten years of debate, “women will now be ordained as members of the priesthood.”

Women had been accepted for clergy training in Ghana’s seminaries, Dr. Akrofi said, and a cadre of trained capable women clergy-in-waiting were ready for ordination. The diocese had yet to determine what role they would play in the life of the diocese, however.

Of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, 8 do not ordain women: Central Africa, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Melanesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, and Tanzania; 2 ordain women to the diaconate only, Congo and the Southern Cone; including the Church of England 24 provinces ordain women to the priesthood: Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Central America, Hong Kong, North India, South India, Indian Ocean, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, Southern Africa, the Sudan, Uganda, Wales, West Africa, and the West Indies; while 4 provinces have consecrated women bishops: the Episcopal Church, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Women clergy have stood for election as bishops in Southern Africa, while the extra-provincial Church of Ceylon ordained its first woman priest in 2006, and the extra-provincial Diocese of Cuba consecrated a women bishop in 2007.

Scenes from Alexandria: West Africa February 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church of the Province of West Africa, Primates Meeting 2009.
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The Primate of West Africa, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of Accra at St Mark's Cathedral on Feb 1, 2009

The Primate of West Africa, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of Accra at St Mark's Cathedral on Feb 1, 2009

Ghana leaders “must overcome divisions”: CEN 1.16.09 p 7. January 16, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Politics.
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John Atta Mills

John Atta Mills

The Church of the Province of West Africa has called upon Ghana’s political leaders to put their political passions to one side and work together to ensure the peace and economic stability of the nation.

In a statement released on Jan 8 by the Primate of West Africa, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of Accra, the Anglican Church said “Let us continue to pray that each and all, especially the leadership, would be imbued with such right vision, sense of purpose and mission as will secure our peace, security and unity – no violence, no chaos, no bitterness.”

On Sunday Dec 7 Ghana went to the polls to elect a new parliament and president. Interest in the election was high as the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches in Ghana moved Sunday services back to Saturday evening or to early Sunday morning to give all eligible voters a chance to cast their ballot. No candidate received an outright majority in the first round, and a runoff was held on Dec 28 between former vice-president John Atta Mills (pictured) of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and former foreign minister and attorney general Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic party (NP).

Mills was certified as the winner on Jan 3 receiving 4,521,032 votes, (50.23%) to Akufo-Addo’s 4,480,446 votes (49.77%)

The Ghana elections were closely watched by democracy activists and church leaders, in the hope that a peaceful transition of power in the West African nation would remove the taint of the failed elections last year in Kenya and Zimbabwe and the military coups in Mauritania and Guinea, and serve as a model for political development for the rest of the continent.

In a message released following President Mills inauguration, Archbishop Akrofi said the results showed that although Ghana was politically divided, its political leaders should work towards building the common good of the whole nation. Political leaders should set an example and help Ghana “tame our tongues,” halting the political rhetoric that had led to minor outbursts of violence in the run up to the election.

“All must cultivate humility,” Archbishop Akrofi said.

“Humility does not mean lying down to be walked all over. It is the disposition that refuses to think more highly of oneself than one ought to; it means the generosity to make excuses for all others than for oneself.”

Ghana cancels Sunday services for election: CEN 11.28.08 p 6. November 30, 2008

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Sunday services have been cancelled in Ghana to encourage voters to participate in the Dec 7 General Elections.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Accra and the Anglican Diocese of Tamale have instructed clergy to hold services on Saturday evening, Dec 6, so as to not to interfere with polling on Dec 7. Archbishop Justice Akrofi, the Primate of West Africa and Bishop of Accra told The Church of England Newspaper, he has instructed his diocesan clergy to conclude Sunday worship no later than 9:00 am.

Archbishop Akrofi told CEN that under the Ghanaian constitution, elections must be held on Dec 7. It was the church’s duty, he argued, to do all it could to support the growth of democracy and work with the government to ensure free and fair elections.

Next week’s elections are seen as a test of West African stability. Coups in Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau earlier this year along with the fragile political health of Sierra Leone and Liberia, Archbishop Akrofi said, demonstrate the importance of free and fair elections in Ghana.

Upon independence 51 years ago, Ghana under its first president, Kwame Nkrumah, had prided and projected itself as the “Black Star of Africa,” seeing itself as a model for modern Africa. However, 21 years of military rule and 6 of a one party state had held back the country’s social and political development, he noted.

On Dec 7 voters will select a president to serve a four year term, and seats for the 230 member parliament. The Anglican Church has not endorsed any one party, he noted, and its members could be found among the ranks of a number of the contending parties, Archbishop Akrofi said.

However, it was important for all citizens to exercise their democratic franchise and the church stood behind them in supporting democracy, the archbishop said.

Archbishop of York calls for peaceful elections as Ghana prepares to go to the polls: CEN 10.10.08 p 6. October 13, 2008

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The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu has added his voice to the call for peaceful elections in Ghana.

In his first visit to the West African country, Dr. Sentamu paid a formal call on Oct 2 to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene (King of the Ashanti people) at the royal palace in Kumasi. The Anglican Church and the Ashanti royal house had long been linked, he said, and urged the king to use his office to further the “cause of humanity.”

The Asantehene thanked Dr. Sentamu for his prayers, and stated the Anglican Church must play a key role in the moral regeneration of the Ghanaian people, and continue to preach the “unadulterated world of God” in the “face of challenges” from the secular world.

Dr. Sentamu asked “God to strengthen the Asantehene and shower his blessings as he dispenses justice and also fight for the cause of his people” and expressed hope the forthcoming national elections would serve the country well.

In December Ghana goes to the polls to elect a new government. Anglican bishops across the country have urged voters to vote wisely and well, pausing first for prayer before they cast their ballots.

On Oct 5 the Bishop of Koforidua, the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Quashie urged voters to reject the politics of division, and cast their ballots for leaders who would unite Ghana. Bishop Emmanuel Arrongo used his presidential address at the Diocese of Tamale’s synod meeting on Oct 4 to urge the leaders of the New Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to eschew political violence.

“The two parties should publicly and sincerely pledge never to crush each other,” he told synod, denouncing the heated rhetoric used by partisans so far in the campaign.

In a newspaper interview published last week, the Bishop of Sekondi, the Rt. Rev. John Kwamina Otto said the two leading presidential candidates, former foreign minister Addo Akufo-Addo of the ruling NPP and former vice-president John Mills of the NDC, were both qualified to lead the country.

Bishop Otto told the Ghanaian Chronicle that based on his personal experience of the two political leaders, both men had the moral character necessary to be president. Akufo-Addo was a former parishioner and “faithful” Anglican, while the bishop stated that when he had served in the army, he had come to know Mills as an honest leader.

However, the rhetoric of the campaign had become worrying, he said, as both candidates appeared to be promising more to voters than they could realistically deliver.

Gambia down to its last four priests: CEN 9.19.08 p 8. September 20, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa.
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The Diocese of Gambia is down to its last four clergymen, after the Rev. Jacob Okiki Cole renounced his orders last week, following a clash with the bishop, the Rt. Rev. Tilewa Johnson.

In a sermon to the congregation to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Banjul on Aug 31, Mr. Cole said he was leaving the church after the bishop ordered him to move to a mission station in Farafenni, in the country’s interior.

Mr. Cole told the congregation the bishop had treated him unfairly during his 14 years of service in the diocese, and that he had already spent time in the provinces. “Enough is enough,” Mr. Cole told the congregation, saying the bishop’s highhanded treatment of the clergy of his small diocese was unconscionable.

Apart from the bishop, the diocese of the Gambia has only one other full time priest, the Rev. Sarah Sock-Taylor. The diocese’s three other priests are non-stipendiary, the Rev. Priscilla Modu Johnson (the bishop’s wife), the Rev. James Cole and the Rev. James Yaw Odico.
Traveling in England, Bishop Johnson was unavailable for comment.

Gambia covers three nations, Senegal, The Gambia and the Cape Verde Islands and has five congregations.

Growth in the Province of West Africa has been uneven in recent years. Civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone destroyed most church properties and scattered congregations and clergy, while the Cameroon is a missionary diocese only recently established. A Muslim-majority nation, The Gambia has not witnessed an appreciable growth in the number of communicants.

The church in Ghana however, has seen sustained growth with a concomitant rise in the number of clergy and dioceses and in recent years has sought to form its own province and in 2003 the non-Ghanian dioceses—Gambia, Cameroon, Guinea, Liberia and the two dioceses of Sierra Leone (Bo and Freetown)-began talks with the nine Ghanian dioceses over division of the Province.

A fact finding commission of the Anglican Consultative Council asked the Province to “put on hold indefinitely” a division until there was “clear evidence” that the non-Ghanian dioceses could function as a province “with adequate provision for a provincial secretariat, synodical structures, the Archbishop’s expenses of office and financial contribution to the needs of the wider Anglican Communion.”

Traditionalist press briefing at Lambeth August 1, 2008

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The Rt Rev Keith Ackerman, SSC of Quincy and the Rt Rev. Matthias Mededues-Badohu of Ho (Ghana) addressing the media on July 31 at the Lambeth Conference

The Bishop of Cameroon July 16, 2008

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The Rt Revd Thomas Elango Dibo on the opening day of the Lambeth Conference.

Corporal punishment call: CEN 6.06.08 p 8. June 5, 2008

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Sparing the rod has spoiled the children of Ghana, the Bishop of Sekondi said last week. Bishop John Otoo called upon the Ghana Education Service to impose stricter disciplinary standards to combat the breakdown of order amongst the young, recommending the sparing use of corporal punishment and firm rules for student behavior.

“Heads, teachers and pupils, nowadays do not care to know the limitation of their bounds; they do not know their code of conduct, and are careless about discipline, therefore contributing heavily to the breakdown of the moral standard of our society,” Bishop Otoo, a former army colonel told the Ghanian Chronicle.

Education must not simply transfer knowledge, but instill discipline he said. Speaking at the dedication of a church school last month, Bishop Otoo said that creating an ordered and harmonious society began with the proper schooling of the young. Addressing indiscipline in schools would benefit the student, the education system and society as a whole.

Bishop Otoo placed some of the blame for juvenile delinquency on western pop culture, saying it sapped the moral fiber of the young.

West Africa denounces US, but will come to Lambeth: CEN 5.09.08 p 9. May 11, 2008

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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of the Province of West Africa has denounced American and Canadian moves to affirm same-sex blessings, but will not withdraw from the Anglican Communion over the dispute.

In a statement released on April 11 following a meeting of the bishops and standing committee of the province held in Doula—see city of the missionary diocese of Cameroon, West Africa resolved to “continue to be in communion with the See of Canterbury as we unequivocally and unambiguously remain in the Anglican Communion.”

However, the dioceses in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia, Guinea and Cameroon said they “out rightly condemn and reject the unacceptable action” of some Western churches in blessing same-sex unions and ordaining and licensing non-celibate homosexual clergy.

While affirming the on-going need that homosexuals should be “treated pastorally,” the province said moves to give gay blessings and clergy “official recognition and acceptance by the Church of God as a standard form of life is quite another stand which we cannot and dare not accept.”
The provincial pre-Lambeth statement distinguishes West Africa from Nigeria. While sharing Nigeria’s distaste for the innovations of doctrine and discipline proposed by the North American churches, it differs in the proper response to the crisis.

“We further urge all members of the Communion to tread very cautiously in these trying and challenging moments” the province said, urging a halt to “name-calling.” “Reducing the conversation to Liberals versus Conservatives is not helpful; it only adds fuel to an already inflamed situation,” they said.

Ghana President praises church’s role: CEN 4.09.08 April 10, 2008

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THE PRESIDENT of Ghana has commended the Church in West Africa for its commitment to education and the rural poor. President JA Kufour’s remarks came on March 29 at the opening of the Anglican University College of Technology in the rural Amansie West District of Ashantiland.

The first church-related university chartered since Ghana achieved independence in 1957, the new school will provide technical, scientific and engineering training for a region ill-served by higher education.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Ghana President praises church's role

The Archbishop of West Africa March 28, 2008

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The Most Rev. Justice Akrofi, Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa and Archbishop of Accra

Liberian elections nullified: CEN 12.07.07 p 6. December 7, 2007

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jonathan-hart.jpgThe West African Church has nullified last month’s episcopal election in Liberia. The Nov 17 election of the Dean of Monrovia, the Very Rev. Jonathan Hart (pictured), as Bishop of Liberia was ruled void for not having conformed to canon law.

At a special diocesan convention held at Cuttington University College, Dean Hart, Dr. James Selle and Dr. Herman Browne—the international affairs secretary of the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, stood for election to succeed the current Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Edward Neufville.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Gospel has ‘economic role,’ say Ghana leaders: CEN 10.05.07 p 8. October 6, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Development/Economics/Govt Finances, Global South.
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The Gospel of Jesus Christ speaks not only of personal transformation, but of economic empowerment and community development, a gathering of Church leaders in Ghana stated last week.

Representatives from nine Provinces gathered in Accra from Sept 19-22 for the second Global South Economic Empowerment Consultation. Delegates from the Congo, Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and Middle East, Kenya, Nigeria, South East Asia, Uganda, Papua New Guinea and West Africa along with speakers from the UK, US, Tanzania and Kenya, and conference secretary Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA released a statement calling for the Church to develop the human capital found in the developing world.

Beginning their work with an examination of Scripture, the consultation observed Jesus “speaks more often about money and the right use of financial resources than he does about prayer.”

By building upon a Scriptural and moral foundation that honors God, the Churches in the developing world could develop their greatest resource: “the men and women, young and old, who make up its active membership and are the primary source of income for our churches.”

Business education and managerial training were essential tools for the transformation of the developing world, they argued. The consultation “developed specific action plans for Economic Empowerment for each Province represented” and called for the creation of “Peer Review Teams” to bolster oversight of the church’s economic redevelopment programs.

“We have gathered in Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast, as this nation celebrates fifty years of independence as a sovereign state after its years as a colonial territory of Great Britain,” the consultation stated. “At the time of independence there were high hopes for freedom and prosperity that are only now beginning to be realized,” they added, commending market-driven models of economic development that break with the failed policies of the last century that had squandered much of the continent’s resources.