Address by Rt. Rev. Dr. Abraham Nana Opare Kwakye, the 19th Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana at the Induction Service on December 3, 2023 at the Ebenezer Congregation, Osu.
“Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name, proclaim his salvation day after day.” Psalm 96:1-2 NIV
- The Vice President of the Republic, H. E. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, Chief of Staff of the Republic, Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, Former Moderators of the General Assembly, Very Rev. Dr. Sam Prempeh, Very Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Martey, Very Rev. Prof. Cephas Narh Omenyo and Very Rev. Prof. Joseph Obiri Yeboah Mante; the Clerk of General Assembly, Rev. Dr. Godwin Nii Noi Odonkor; Former Clerks of General Assembly, Rev. Dr. Ofosu-Adutwum, Rev. Dr. Charles Gyang Duah, Rev. Herbert Anim Opong, Rev. Dr. Sam Ayete-Nyampong; Members of the General Assembly Council, Heads of Churches present, H. E. The Swiss Ambassador to Ghana, Rev. Martin Abrahams, President, Moravian Church of South Africa (representing the Evangelische Mission in Solidarität) Honourable Members of Parliament, The Inspector General of Police, The Chief of Defence Staff, members of the University of Ghana Community, Eminent Chiefs and other distinguished guests, My colleague Ministers of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, who are stewards of the mysteries of Christ, all other Agents and members of the believing Christian community, Ladies and Gentlemen, the peace of the Lord be with you. Hejole aha nye! Awurade asomdwee nka mo! Praise the Lord!
C. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND THANKS.
- I wish to express appreciation to the Most High God who has favoured me, and honoured me at this time in the history of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. I am not the most experienced Minister of the Church. I am neither the oldest of ministers nor the most learned of Ministers. I am, therefore, grateful to God for calling me out of my father’s house and showing me His favour. To God be the glory!
- I also wish to express my appreciation to the 23rd General Assembly that met at Abetifi in August 2023 for expressing their confidence in me when they elected me to serve as the 19th Moderator of the General Assembly in a smooth and peaceful election. I was overwhelmed by the level of support and love at the Assembly and after. Since the General Assembly, I have been overwhelmed by the continued outpouring of good tidings and prayers. May the Lord richly bless you all. I am grateful to all the Presbyteries of the Church.
- I wish to express my appreciation to my late parents, Joseph Patrick Yaw Kwakye and Nora Emelia Kwakye. My father served for many years in the Greenwich Meridian Congregation, Tema Community One District, as Presbyter and Session Clerk, while my mother served in the Tema North District as Presbyter and later Catechist. I was brought up in the Presbyterian way and my Presbyterian ancestry was always emphasised. I do recollect, how as a child, I found it very awkward that early in the morning, my mother often woke us up for devotion to sing Leebi la le ete shi … She was a Children’s Service Teacher and the leader of the Girls’ Fellowship in our church. She led many to the Lord and I was no exception. It was my parents who as part of the family custom led me to the Bible Study and Prayer Group and entrusted me to the late Mr. Robert Haniamekee Akrong. I dedicate this service as Moderator to their memory. They are represented here by immediate and extended family members from Tema, Aburi, Osu and Abompe. These also include my parents-in-law, Mr. S.K. Ampomah and Mrs. Adelaide Ampomah.
- I also wish to acknowledge my fathers in ministry who mentored me from the beginning. I have often said that I am the product of a mentorship programme by several fathers. On this occasion, I remember the late Rev. Emmanuel Agyem-Frempong (who confirmed me), late Rev. Cdr. D. B. Oduro (who endorsed my application to Seminary), Rev. Kwaku Ankama Akyeampong (who was my pastor during my seminary days and who led me to my first station, La) and Joseph Anang Obodai (under whom I served my probation). Rev. J. A. Obodai, the ninety-one-year-old retired Minister, holds double honour as a former Presbytery Chairperson of the Northern Mission Field and the Western Presbytery. He also holds the double honour of training two of his probationers, myself and Very Rev. Prof. Cephas Omenyo, to become Moderators of the General Assembly. I recognise the Rev. Charles Barifi Ahwireng who is my father’s cousin and who has never failed to provide guidance and inspiration at every point in my ministerial journey. Also, to the two distinguished scholars and theologians, who together turned me into an academic and walked with me from Diploma, through my bachelor’s degree and supervised my doctoral studies, Rev. Prof. B. Y. Quarshie and Very Rev. Prof. Cephas Omenyo, I owe tonnes of gratitude. It was Prof. Quarshie who helped me to gain admission to the University of Ghana, at a time when I was teaching at the Presbyterian Junior Secondary School, Agona Kwanyako. Together with his wife, Grandma Adina, they counselled Benedicta and I during our pre-marital counselling, preached the sermon at my wedding and have been present at every important event in my life. As for the Very Rev. Prof. Cephas Narh Omenyo and Mama Rosekel, their instrumentality in bringing me to this point is public knowledge. Not only did Prof. Omenyo teach me throughout my university studies, he also guided my post-doctoral studies and was instrumental in recruiting me to teach at the university. Together with their pastor brothers, Rev. Prof. David Nii Anum Kpobi and Rev. Prof. Abamfo Ofori Atiemo, they have guided me to this point and I am very grateful.
- I also wish to acknowledge all the congregations where I have had opportunity to serve and to establish relationships that will not go away. These include, Trinity Congregation, Tema Community Four; the Bohner Congregation, Agona Kwanyako, where I was first exposed to the reality of church life; La Bethel, where I served my probation; Adentan Christ, where I served my first charge as an ordained Minister; Haatso Calvary, Madina District (Immanuel), Osu District (Ebenezer) and last but most importantly and recently, El-Shaddai, Tesa-Adjiringanor. They have shown their love to us in many ways and we are so grateful. I also thank the ‘Rainbow Presbytery’, the Ga Presbytery, for giving me opportunity to serve in these congregations and lead it as Chairperson through COVID to the celebration of the centenary.
- I also acknowledge the Children’s Service, Young People’s Guild, Bible Study and Prayer Group, National Union of Presbyterian Students of Ghana and Scripture Union, who helped nurture me in my foundational years. I appreciate my teachers and classmates from Deks Preparatory School, Tema Secondary School, Presbyterian Training College, Akropong, Trinity College and University of Ghana, Legon.
- I also want to express my appreciation to the Clerk of General Assembly and the Committee that planned this induction service. Papa Clerk, God richly bless you. I am confident that we shall work together to make the PCG a beacon of hope in this nation. The Osu Session has gone to great lengths to make this “Presbyterian Cathedral” ready for the service. Awo Osu, led by Osofo Erasmus Mensah Laryea, God richly bless you.
- Finally, I wish to express my appreciation to the Lord’s greatest gift to me, aside the Lord Jesus Christ. Here I refer to the wife of my youth, the lovely Benedicta, and our daughters, Adina, Trish and Danielle, for their support. They have stood with me through difficult times, prayed with me and encouraged me. God richly bless you.
D. RECOGNITION OF PAST PRINCIPAL OFFICERS
- The Presbyterian Church of Ghana, according to Very Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Martey, is the oldest continuously existing church in this country. It traces its origins to the arrival of the first batch of Basel missionaries; Karl F. Salbach, Gottlieb Holzwarth, Johannes Henke and Johannes Schmidt, who arrived in the historic town of Osu, together with a young Osu prince, Nii Noi Dowuona, in December 1828. It was, however, in 1918, ninety years after the first missionaries set foot here, that, Peter Hall, an African, was elected the first Moderator at Akropong. Since then, God has called a number of our own to become the Moderators of Synod/General Assembly. On this occasion, I recognise all past officers Moderators of the Church. I salute them on this occasion and the PCG is thankful for the foundations that they laid as leaders of the PCG. I acknowledge that these are great leaders, and I am humbled to be called by the Lord to follow in their footsteps. I will build on the foundations that have already been laid, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- One of the great Ministers who inspired me, late Rev. Peter Maugbi Kodjo, often remarked that everyone has their way of entering the mammy truck (tso lorry). I recognise the different approaches to leadership by these outstanding Moderators. I, however, wish to state that I will lead the great Presbyterian Church of Ghana in my own way. Someone looked at my feet and asked me a few weeks after my election whether I am able to wear the shoes of the outgone Moderator. Like David, in 1 Samuel 17:38-39, “Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. ‘I cannot go in these,’ he said to Saul, ‘because I am not used to them.’ So, he took them off.”
- I am, therefore, coming to the office of Moderator in my own shoes to become my own kind of Moderator. In saying this, I recognise the fact that all these persons have deposited some precious values in me. This has resulted in something unique and different and I urge all to follow the new leadership that the Lord has given us. I also recognise the fact that the PCG is a Reformed Church that believes in the maxim, Ecclesia Reformata, semper Reformanda secundum verbum Dei which, when translated, means “The Church reformed, always being reformed according to the Word of God.” May the spirit of the Reformers be ablaze in the church.
- Permit me to read from Jeremiah 1:4-10
The Word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
- As I retreated to prepare for this day, the enormity of the task ahead struck me. However, the Lord spoke to me through the above text. I came to the realisation that even when I was in my mother’s womb, the Lord chose me and appointed me to be the 19th Moderator of the General Assembly. He continued to remind me that I did not choose myself in the election. It was He who called me from among the Ministers of the PCG to provide leadership. I recognised that I am not the most eloquent of Ministers. I am also a young person by Presbyterian standards. In all these, the Lord reminded me not to allow my frailties and weaknesses to be a hindrance. Many people recognise my oft repeated phrase “Onyame ye kese” or “ Nyonmo da” as an acknowledgement of the almighty power of God. He will not allow my inabilities to be a stumbling block in this great march of the Lord. It is my prayer that in the same light, all our Agents and members will not allow anything to be an obstacle in this progressive march of the Lord.
- Finally, like the prophet Jeremiah, I have a clear mandate from the Lord. Today, He has appointed me to lead a global Presbyterian Church to uproot indiscipline and indecency, to tear down structures of social injustice, to destroy the works of the devil and overthrow the ways of the world. In their place, with the help of Christ Jesus our Lord, I am called to lead the PCG to build and plant a Christ Centred, Self-Sustaining and Growing Church. And so shall we.
F. ACCEPTANCE OF MANDATE
- Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I accept the mandate to be the 19th Moderator of General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana in the name of Jesus Christ. As I have already hinted, I will seek to know His will only and to serve him diligently with all my heart.
- By the grace of God, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana shall celebrate the bicentennial anniversary in 2028, the year in which I will complete my tenure. It is my objective that these five years will enable us as a denomination to celebrate our heritage, re-define our identity and pursue a vigorous growth agenda.
- This growth agenda will be driven by a matrix of spiritual growth, numerical growth, financial growth and infrastructural growth. Spiritual growth will place emphasis on scriptural study, vigorous prayer life, public witness and holy living. It will also mean an emphasis on the proverbial Presbyterian Discipline. It is this spiritual growth that will be used to propel the numerical growth. It is time to extend the frontiers of the Mission Blueprint of the PCG from a present membership of about One million Three Hundred Thousand to Two million by the year of the bicentennial. This will ensure that as a denomination we shall remain relevant and growing.
- My focus will also be on financial growth which includes financial discipline, resource generation and improved welfare for agents of the church. It is also important that this translates into infrastructural growth. In several fora, I have shared my passion to initiate the construction of the Kutunse project. If I look at the present financial state of the church, Kutunse may look like a mirage. However, if we rely on the God who is Alpha and Omega, we shall make this long held dream a reality. I, therefore, appeal to all and sundry to come and help us do it to the glory of God. Let us not do this for the sake of our personal glory or settling any denominational scores but do this to bring glory to God.
- As a Minister who served for many years as a Youth Minister, youth ministry shall continue to be my passion. The demographics point to children and youth being in the majority in our country. We shall seek to bring proposals for increased adaptation of our worship to fit into the contemporary youth culture. We shall continue to partner with the state to provide hope to the millions of youths in the Church.
- As the leader of the PCG, I will lead the Church to proclaim its prophetic voice on national and global matters. The resources of the nation are meant for the entire nation and have to be shared equitably to the benefit of all. The tendency of some of our fellow citizens looting the national coffers is a matter of great public concern and we shall not relent in speaking against any such acts, no matter who is in the leadership of our dear country. The continued devastation of the environment through galamsey and filth is a matter that we must all deal with. Unfortunately, we sometimes hear in the media, that some of our political leaders, across the political divide, are sponsors of these unethical activities. The PCG shall not fail to speak against these practices. The rising unemployment and hopelessness in the country as a result of the economic crisis is a major security concern and the Church will not relent in its efforts to demand accountability. We shall continue in our fight against foreign oppression, especially, the recent attempts by imperialists to impose abominable values of individualism on our national fabric over against our deep sense of communalism. Let all the world know, that a new dawn has come. May we stand together as a Church, irrespective of our ideological and political differences to build a just community and a prosperous nation.
G. REQUEST FOR PRAYER
- I do understand that the responsibility to lead is a herculean one. I will seek to follow the leading of God so that I can lead. Just as the people of Israel were commanded to follow the ark of the covenant in order to know which way to go, because they had never walked that way before, I also will seek to know his will for the Church and to follow His will because I have never walked this way before. This is my first time of being a Moderator. I do not even know how to walk as a Moderator. I ask for your prayers. Every time you wake up from bed, please pray for me. Pray for a fresh anointing for the day and strength to do his work. Pray for faithful service that will positively influence lives. Pray that I will lead the PCG in the way of the Lord, so that when all is done, we will collectively give glory to the Lord.
“Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” It is to the Lord that we bring glory, honour and praise. Hallelujah! Soli Deo Gloria!
Rt. Rev. Dr. Abraham Nana Opare Kwakye
(Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana)
December 3, 2023