PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF GHANA
2021 GENERAL ASSEMBLY
MODERATORIAL ADDRESS TO THE 21ST ASSEMB BY RT. REV. PROF. J. O. Y. MANTE, PhD
(MODERATOR OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY)
- Protocol Greetings: The Acting Moderator in Chair, brothers and sisters in Christ, I bring you special greetings from the General Assembly Office (GAO), and wish to say that I am happy to see all of you at this second, COVID-19 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.
- to particularly welcome those of you who have travelled from overseas to join us at this Assembly
- PCG is Strong: Let me start off my address by pointing out quickly that despite the challenges of COVID 19 which have attacked the progress of almost everything in our world today, I am happy to state that, in my humble opinion, the PCG is growing stronger. For this we are very grateful to the Lord. When I hear and encounter a PCG female Catechist whom I met at Nsabaa in the Central Presbytery who won the best nurse award in the whole country, I feel that the PCG is doing well;
When I hear that the first runner up for the National Best Teacher award is a Presbyterian called Nana Ama Animwaa (the Nkosoohemaa of Aboabo No.4 who is also the Head Teacher of the Aboabo No.4 Presbyterian Primary School in the Dormaa Ahenkro District), I feel that the PCG is doing well; when I hear that the VCs of UCC, Central University, UHAS, and the immediate past VC of the UG are all Presbyterians, it makes me feel that the PCG is doing very well; when I hear that the construction of 300 smaller church buildings (Pavilions) across the country has taken off and Chairpersons are overseeing and dedicating Pavilions for worship in almost every month, I feel that the PCG is faring well; when I hear that all PCG Ministers now get their salaries from the GAO promptly at the end of every month, I know that we are doing well as a Church;
When the Committee on Statistics and Information inform me that despite the severity of the effects of COVID 19 on churches in our country, the PCG still grew positively by a quantum of not less than 48,000 members, I feel that the Lord has been good to us and we are faring well as a church; when I walk through town and ordinary people on the street say thank you for your sermon last Sunday on television, it has helped me a lot, I feel that the PCG is doing well;
When I attend an ecumenical meeting and I realize that PCG is ahead in their financial obligations compared to the other denominations, I feel that we are doing well; when we are able to send financial help to some of our congregations in faraway places, support some of our schools, give motorcycles to our Agents in remote places, and to give extra financial allowances to Ministers in deprived areas, I feel more elated that I am a Presbyterian;
When I hear that during last Christmas several of our Congregations stepped out of the confines of their church buildings to feed the hungry on the streets through the Jesus Christmas Street Party Project, I know that our Church is doing the will of God; when I learn that during the Easter Saturday several of our Congregations visited prison cells and hospitals it makes me feel that Jesus must be happy with the PCG as we attempt to obey his word in Matthew 25 to feed the hungry and visit those in prisons and those who are sick.
When I hear that we have been able to start purchasing vehicles for Regional Managers of Schools, I feel that PCG is doing well. When I realize that we are just about to launch our own Presbyterian TV Station, I feel that we are on the right path.
- Of course, I am not a naïve person who lives in the skies as if everything is well. I know we still have a long way to go but I just want us to celebrate what the Lord is doing in and through our Church as agent of Spiritual, moral, social and environmental transformation.
- OUR CURRENT CONTEXT
- COVID-19: Last year, the COVID-19 was very severe around the world to the extent that we could not hold our normal GA in our normal way. We could only have a one day in-person gathering and we left the rest of the items for the GAC to take decisions on our behalf. This year too, although we have learnt a little more about the disease than last year, the disease is still with us (more especially in its mutated and more dangerous delta variant) and we are warned by our health professionals to still be extra careful with the pandemic and its deadly effects. It is to this end that we have adopted a new agenda for this year’s meeting which is a hybrid of virtual and in-person meetings. One of these days we will tell our story to generations to come as to how we, as a church, survived the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- I think it is in order for us as a Church to congratulate His Excellency the President of the Republic for the able manner by which he and his team have handled the pandemic in this country; by their able leadership, we have been spared of the devastations that have occurred in several other countries, including so-called advanced countries.
Of course, more needs to be done, and we all must continue to take the precautionary protocols seriously since the pandemic is still with us and it is still dangerous. People have asked us when we as a church will ease the restrictions. My quick answer is that we are still under some restrictions by the laws of the land and we as a church must be seen to be obeying the laws of the land and not just do as other disobedient churches do.
- Since I assumed office as Moderator, I have been focusing on a holistic ministry which is expressed in what I term the four major thematic areas of the Church’s witness, namely: The Spiritual, Moral, Social and Environmental Witness of the Church. It is still important to me that, for us to proceed on a holistic ministry we need to make sure that we do not neglect any one of these four major thematic areas of the witness of the Church. This understanding of holistic ministry undergirds much of what I do and say, and what I intend to say in this presentation.
- The Spiritual Witness: The message of the Church to the world is that we (human beings) are, among other things, spiritual beings created in the image of God; if we do not stay connected with God, all aspects of our lives will go amiss. Our spirituality shows itself in our constant fellowship with God in Christ Jesus through prayer, obedience to God’s word, intentional evangelism and fellowship with other believers or Church attendance.
- The Moral Witness: Basically Yahweh is distinguished from the other gods of the ancient Near East by Holiness which denotes both sacredness and moral purity. It is therefore a contradiction in terms for any church or group of people to pretend to worship Yahweh and live anyhow. Any understanding of God’s grace or God’s love that does not lead us into a mindset or circumference of moral purity is a sham and a scam.
It is true that no human being is morally perfect, but any so called Christian Spirituality that does not lead to holiness is a false pretense. For, the purpose of God’s commandment is love that arises out of a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith (I Tim. 1:5); and “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).
If we play down on holiness, our Christian witness will be virtually destroyed. Yet closely linked to holiness is righteousness, which is holiness applied to social and communal relationships. Another word for it is social justice. May the Lord help us as a church to pursue our Moral Witness with all seriousness. Some people think that if they relax on moral integrity their churches will grow. This is not true as history always proves the reverse to be truer.
- The Social Witness of the Church: The Headquarters of our Church is situated in West Africa where we have some of the poorest of the poorest in the world living. If it is the case that the Church of Jesus Christ is both the Salt and Light of the world, then the Church exists, among other things, for the sake of social significance and transformation. It is to this end that social services such as feeding the hungry, taking care of orphans, visiting the sick, giving water to the thirsty, educating the uneducated, healing the sick, and lifting up the poor from poverty are very important aspects of the mission of our church.
It is also in this same vein that social actions (prophetic witness) such as advocacy for the poor and marginalized are also important aspects of the mission of the Church. It is to this end that the PCG has almost 2,500 Basic Schools, 32 Senior High Schools, 5 Colleges of Education, 2 Universities, 55 Health Institutions, 4 Nursing and Midwifery Colleges, Vocational Training Institutions, Relief Services/Programs, Women and Children Empowerment Programs, etc. I wish to plead with the leaders of our Church at all levels to take these ministries of the church more seriously than we are doing now. Sessions should make time to visit these institutions and take more responsibility for their maintenance and performances.
Let us follow the suggested plan from the General Assembly Council for Congregational and District Sessions to take more responsibilities for the Basic Schools; Presbyteries to take more responsibilities for the Senior High Schools and the General Assembly Office to take more responsibilities for our tertiary institutions.
- The Environmental Witness: These days no education is considered proper without an environmental component – no matter what discipline it is. It is true that the day that the last tree dies, the last human being will die. Yet beyond that belief, we Christians must know that the word for holy in Hebrew (quadosh/quodesh) covers both inner and external environments. With this understanding, we Christians must be the first group of people to shout against all forms of environmental uncleanliness. The “galamsey” and trashing in our cities, are nonsensical evils and sins that must be cast out of our system. They are unchristian and sinful.
- Acting Moderator, I wish to state clearly that we already have a lot on our plate as a Church that need serious attention, maintenance and consolidation. Our Vision 1.5, Project 300, our several schools, hospitals, agricultural projects, training centres, etc, all need serious maintenance, consolidation, refurbishing and face lifting. Some have not taken off well and perhaps only exist in name, while others are in serious deplorable states and we need to urgently maintain and consolidate them.
We have not finished building the 300 Pavilions and we have just started the Hospitality Projects at our various Centers (which the 2020 GA approved by ratifying the GAC decisions), so we should not be adding more physical projects to our already tall order, that will put undue strain on our budget. This will be at the back of my mind in this presentation.
- Acting Moderator in Chair, please allow me to proceed on the lines of our Directorates, as I have done in the past.
- ADMINISTRATION AND HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (AHRM)
- Let me commend the Clerk of GA for the passion with which he coordinates the administration of the Church. The Clerk of GA works hard and is focused on his work; I am grateful to the Lord for that.
- I am more grateful for how he is guiding Presbyteries to follow the Strategic Plan of the Church. Although some have been crying about the so called cumbersomeness of the Strategic Plan, I think that if we bring our minds to it and stay with it for a while, we will all get used to it.
- Let me also commend all the staff (from Directors to Cleaners) and all our Agents and Presbyters, whether in mega cities or in faraway remote and deprived areas, for holding the church together and for moving it forward even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without you all, the Church would not have been where it is now. Thank you Agents and Presbyters; may the Lord bless you all.
- Of course, I should also show my gratefulness to all GAC members (Lay and Ordained) who have completed their tenures and will be leaving the Council at the end of this month. I salute them all and trust that, given the experiences they have gained, they will continue to be of greater blessing to the Church in whatever capacity they may now serve the Church.
- It is also in order for me to thank my wife (Mama Florence), children and family for their unflinching support. Thanks to you all.
- Land Documentation: The General Assembly Council has adopted a plan to make sure that we systematically get all our lands fully documented. We have started with our higher institutions of learning and hope that it trickles down step by step to all our lands. Currently we have been able to document the lands of our tertiary institutions and we have started the process with our secondary institutions. We are also systematically tackling the Presbytery lands and hope to trickle down to the Districts, then to all local Congregations. It is my prayer and hope that by 2028 (when we are 200 years old) all our lands will be fully documented, as much as lies within the power of the Church.
- Whiles we are on lands, let me reiterate the fact that there is a Constitutional Provision (Article 28:5-6) and a GA decision to the effect that no other person in the Church (except the Trustees of the Church) has the power to enter into an agreement/contract on land or any immovable property or dispose of any portion of PCG land without the express approval of the Trustees. Let us respect this policy with all seriousness.
- Strengthening the Legal Unit: In order for us to operate more efficiently, we need to strengthen our Legal Unit. This will among other things bring us the benefit of the proper and more prosperous management of our numerous parcels of lands (including our over 700 acres Salem City lands), properties and legal cases. I pray that this house will strengthen the hands of the GAC to make this possible.
- Limit on Medical Bills: For a long time the medical bills of our Agents (both in active service and all those on pension) are paid fully by the Church with no limit. In as much as this may have been possible during the days when the Church was smaller, there is no way by which we can proceed with that practice. Besides there is no written down policy on how we manage the medical bills of our Agents – both those in active service and those who are retired. If we are not careful, this unwritten practice can ruin the finances of the church in one single day. I wish to propose that the AHRM and Finance Departments of the church are tasked to present a paper on this matter for the consideration of the 2022 GA.
- CHURCH LIFE AND NURTURE
- Church Music: One of the ways by which a Church or Denomination is characterized and/or made relevant at any point in history is through its music/songs. One of the things that sends a whole denomination into irrelevance is its songs and worship style. Let us charge the CLAN Directorate to quicken its steps in making our hymns more popular in our current public space, and to also re-work our English Hymnary since it has some theological and rhythmic challenges.
- 100 YEARS OF CHILDREN’S MINISTRY: We are grateful to the Lord God Almighty that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Children’s Service Ministry in the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. It is in order that we pause to give thanks to the Lord for this great feat, and to salute all the teachers (past and present) who have labored to make the PCG Children Service Ministry stand the test of times and made it one of the best in the whole country.
All of us are Children Service Alumni and we must all be grateful. As we move ahead, however, I pray that we will do our best to create electronic versions of our children’s materials so that the spiritual needs of our children who are growing electronically will be met. I suggest that we charge the CLAN Department through its Christian Education Committee, to make sure that programs/facilities for E-Learning for Children’s Service are set up and implemented. Do not be surprised if at this GA we sing more of our Children’s hymns and songs.
- Demographics on the Young: According to Index Mundi, the total population of Ghana in July 2020 was estimated to be 29.34m. Out of this number the following demographics were indicated:
0 – 14 years = 37.44% (males = 5.52m and females = 5.46m)
15 – 24 years = 18.64% (males = 2.72m and females = 2.75m)
25 – 54 years = 34.27% (males = 4.87m and females = 5.18m)
55 – 64 years = 5.21% (males = 0.74m and females = 0.78m)
65 years and above = 4.44% (males = 0.6% and females = 0.7%)
These statistics show us that here in Ghana the majority of people are children, constituting 37.44%; and those of school going age (0 to 24 years) alone constitute 56.1%. Those who are 65 years and above are about 1.3m; what this means is that even if all Ghanaians who are 65 years and above were made to become Presbyterians, we will only have a membership of 1.3m and not reach our vision 1.5.
Our reasonable bet is those from 0 to 54 years who constitute over 90% of Ghana’s population, but especially the children who alone constitute over 37% of the country’s population. Meanwhile, our children in the Church constitute 28% of the Church’s total population, which is below the 37% of Ghana’s population. It needs to be emphasized that for a strongly youthful population in Ghana, any Church whose higher percentage growth is among the older generation may not survive the next few decades.
It will thus be in our interest as a Church to focus our growth attention on those aged between zero and 54 years (they are over 90% in the country) but not forgetting the others.
A little extra attention to our children and JY services (such as providing breakfast or snacks where possible) may change our demographics in no time. I propose that we task the M&E and CLAN Departments to collaborate with the appropriate stakeholders to come out with a clearer plan on how to focus on children and youth, given our national statistics, towards our attaining Vision 1.5.
Once in a while when I have a free Sunday, I worship at a PCG Congregation which is just about three minutes drive from my house. It is called Redemption Congregation. I discussed with the Church, and the leadership (under the Rev. Karl Noah Nartey), accepted to experiment with a “Feed the Children Project” at Sunday school. Within three Sundays, the Sunday school membership had grown from around 70 to 87, which is 24.2 percent in three weeks. Jesus said we should go forth into the highways and compel the wanderer to come in. Let us do whatever we can to bring more souls into the kingdom.
- Continuous Education for Agents: Last year, we accepted the Continuous Education Policy for all Agents and tasked the appropriate Department to come up with its modus operandi. I pray that Agents will take serious advantage of this Continuous Education Program when it starts in February 2022.
- During the course of the year, we realized that several of our Ministers were dying continuously, especially those in the Volta Presbytery. So the GAC took a double-edged approach which was both spiritual and physical. Spiritually, we brought all the Agents in the Volta Presbytery together for a spiritual retreat at the Patmos Centre, and physically we asked that our Research Unit should look into some of the causes of these deaths. Agents should be made to take their annual medical check-ups seriously. Let us all keep praying for our Agents and support them well as they take care of our souls.
- Discipline: One of the hallmarks and core values of our Church is discipline. Once in a while we may see a Minister or an Agent who chooses to dress anyhow contrary to the dress code of Ministers/Agents in the Church, or take it upon him/herself to do further studies without explicit permission from the Church (sometimes obtaining unaccredited degrees and titles), or show insubordination to the duly constituted authorities of the Church (against his/her own ordination vows), or show some spirituality that is not Christ-centered.
- It is my prayer that all agents of the church will distinguish themselves in their various ministries and allow discipline to be their hallmark. Please, we are a disciplined Church and we do not expect any Minister or Agent to dress anyhow, or undertake any further studies that we do not know about, or carry degrees and titles that we have not certified through the appropriate standards authorities in the country, or use foul spiritual means to collect money from people.
- Counseling Centres: I recall, since the time of the Moderatorship of the late Very Rev. I. H. Frempong, in the 1980s, the PCG has been talking about the need for establishing Professional Clinical Counseling Centres, managed by qualified Clinical Psychologists/Counselors. The need for these Centres is more critical in our generation than even in the 1980s, given current trends such as confusion in sexuality, breakdown in parenting, spiritual murders, effects of poverty, and the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
I propose that we charge the GAC to (through the appropriate Department) systematically work out the establishment and implementation of a Presbyterian Clinical Counseling Centre in every region in Ghana (within the next five years), starting from the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions, which have the highest populations. This will include intentionally training people for that purpose and intentionally using the services of those of our members who already have that training.
- DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL SERVICES
- I must commend the DSS for collaborating with the ESR for undertaking projects such as the PEACE AMBASSADORS programme, the Environmental and Cleanliness programme, the planting of one million trees, and the COVID-19 Education Programs.
- I trust that they will not relent on these important campaigns, and that the Cleanliness Campaign will be a lasting thing on the DSS agenda.
- Of course I am highly elated to note the construction of a Biomedical Waste treatment system at Agogo at a cost of GH¢ 104,150; the completion of the Presbyterian Hospital at Aburi, the elevation of the Presbyterian Clinic at Assin Praso to a full hospital, and the support of 323 women and 192 groups in farming in the Kwahu, Upper and Northern Presbyteries.
- In addition to the above, I wish to ask that we task the DSS Directorate to collaborate with the Education Department to make sure that all our Senior High Schools are distinguished by having medical clinics by the year 2023. Funding for such projects can come from other sources than the church’s budget. For example, sourcing from the CSR budgets of bigger companies.
- I am very happy to learn that our “star Senior High Schools” (PRESEC Legon and Aburi Girls) are still doing very well. I am even happier to learn that some other Presbyterian Senior High Schools in the Bono area are becoming rising stars in their performances. I am talking of Bechem, Berekum and Techimantia PRESECS. It seems to me that if we give them a little more attention these schools will soon rise to the position of top twenty in the nation.
- The General Assembly Council is guided by a principle which suggests that the various Courts of the Church take more responsibility for the various levels of education: the local Congregations and Districts to take more responsibilities for the Basic Schools, the Presbyteries to take more responsibilities for the Senior High Schools and the General Assembly Office to take more responsibilities for the tertiary institutions.
We know that at the end of the day the whole PCG is responsible for all our schools, but this way of sharing responsibilities seem to be more workable. By taking more responsibilities I mean showing more Presbyterian presence and financial commitment to the institutions. I pray that the GA will endorse this beautiful arrangement that will cause each Court to show more responsibility to our institutions of learning. Some of our Agents have neglected our institutions of learning for far too long, and this should not continue.
- On PUCG: Allow me to say a very big thank you to the Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Adow Obeng for leading the PUCG as its President for the last seven years. Unfortunately, his mandatory second term ends on November 30th, this year. We are lucky to have had someone like Prof. Adow Obeng who, when it comes to University Administration, has very few equals in this country, to head our University.
One of the big feathers in his cup is the fact that he has promised to get us the Charter before he leaves office. Rev. Prof. Adow Obeng, may the Lord who has brought you this far continue to make you a greater blessing to many more people, even as you retire after 70 years of age. The PCG is very grateful to you. The Church will collaborate with the PUCG to “see him off” appropriately at the appropriate time.
- While the Rev. Prof. Adow Obeng leaves the PUC stage, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, the immediate past VC of the UG, enters as the new President of the PUCG. Prof. Oduro Owusu is a full Professor of Entomology and has very strong national and international experiences that he will bring to the PUCG. We welcome him and pray that the Lord will make his tenure a greater blessing to the university, the church and to the whole world. He starts his new job as President of the University on 1st December 2021. At an appropriate time, he will be inducted into office.
- At the same time, let me say another thank you to Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo who has exited as Chairperson of the PUCG to take up position of Chairperson of the University of Ghana Council. Kindly note that the PUCG is under the mentorship of the UG.
- Still on the PUCG, I wish recommend that more Presbyterians should send their wards to the PUCG; they will definitely get a good (and sometimes better) education with a strong Presbyterian tinge. In this vein I wish to further recommend that we set up a special scholarship/bursary scheme (at the various Courts of the Church) for Presbyterians who gain admission to the PUCG and who have demonstrable need for financial aid.
- ECUMENICAL AND SOCIAL RELATIONS
- Let me once again congratulate the ESR Department for championing the Peace Campaign and the Environmental Cleanliness Campaign, and also the national education on COVID-19.
- We are still wrestling with the implementation of Decision 9/11. Some of our own Pastors have stood in the gap to keep our Church members abroad within the ecclesial systems of some of our “partners” that we have severed relationship with. I think we may need to re-look at how to implement this Decision 9/11 and rather recognize those Pastors of ours who have protected and shepherded our church members abroad in the faith during these turbulent years.
I am thinking of those of our own Pastors who live in the midst of strange societies that ordain LGBTQIs and don’t see anything wrong with it. These Pastors have stood against the tide and shepherded our members within the PCUSA, PCC, URC and other such ecclesial systems and decided that they will not follow those evils but sacrifice to Pastor our members within those settings. They may have made some mistakes in the process, but they must be acknowledged for sacrificing to shepherd our flock in these turbulent times.
- To this end, I wish to declare an amnesty for all such PCG Pastors, and any Pastor of the PCG under discipline who has demonstrated that he/she has kept the faith and is willing to be received into the fold of Agents of the PCG. Such Pastors must formally write to request for amnesty and forgiveness and must pledge to abide by the rules of the PCG.
- Again, I wish to ask that we revise our Guidelines Document on Decision 9-11 and also interpret the Decision 9-11 such that it will allow us as a Church to continue to have bilateral relations with communities and faith groups/congregations that are like-minded with us on our position on LGBTQI+. We will however still maintain our stance on severing relationships with their national churches that ordain the LGBTQI+ and permit LGBTQI+ persons into full communion of the Church.
- We are grateful to the Lord for the new percentage sharing system which we have adopted, relative to our finances. I am happy to learn that great things are happening with this new system of financing the various Courts of the Church. This new system has helped us to achieve greater feats as a Church in the shortest possible time (the CGA will say more about this in his report).
I however do hear a few voices saying that they are having challenges at the Congregational and District levels with their finances due to this new financial system. I wish to say that I hear those voices very clearly but they should give us a little more time to evaluate the system properly. We gave ourselves four years to evaluate the system (which is just two years from now); and given the fact that last year was a COVID year which we cannot use to do any regular financial analysis, I plead that we wait for the next two years which we have all agreed upon as a Church, to do the evaluation.
- I am also grateful to the GA for ratifying GACs decision to strengthen our various Centres by building more Hospitality Centres there (Abetifi, Abokobi, Tamale and Nsabaa). We have started with the one at RTC, Abetifi, and I pray that the Lord will move good investors, from North to South, East and West, in our direction, so that, very soon, each of our centers will have enough facilities for us to hold our national and group conferences, and also that we will be better financially sound as a Church. We need more good investors.
- MISSION AND EVANGELISM
- I wish to once again congratulate our Agents and Session Members who put their lives on the line to win more souls for the Lord in the Church during the epic of the pandemic in 2020. Agents and Church leaders used several innovative methods to add over 48,000 souls to the Church. May the name of the Lord be forever praised. Here, let me salute those of our Agents and Church leaders who put their lives in the front line and have died from the effects of COVID-19. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
- I must say quickly, however, that since the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed us down in our Church Growth, we will need to change gears and speed up our process of growth. Instead of growing at a cumulative rate of 10%, we will now have to grow at a cumulative rate of 12% to get to our estimated 1.5 million in 2023. Let us all work harder to make the vision 1.5 a reality, for it is attainable.
- As has been stated above, let us pay a lot more attention to the children and the young who constitute more than 60% of Ghana’s population, and we will hit our target in no time.
- In addition, I wish to ask all of us to take the Great Commission more seriously, since the current world we live in is groping in serious moral and spiritual darkness. This is the core mandate of the Church – to bring all of creation under the Lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”.
- Operation Show Your Converts: One of the ways of implementing the vision 1.5 is a method adopted in the Europe Presbytery which our M&E Director terms, “Operation Show your converts”. It is a process whereby Congregation members are called upon to present their new converts in the church during worship service, once a month. I think if this is well polished, it can be a good method for emulation.
- A WORD FOR OUR NATION
- The Morality of Our Nation. Somehow the morality of our nation is failing as we witness brutal murders every now and then, all for immoral reasons. I remember the case in Kasoa of some two teenagers who murdered a fourteen year old for rituals to make them get more money from a fetish priest so that they can buy a Range Rover car; I am reminded of the armed robbery case in Accra where a police man guiding a bullion van and a woman standing by were shot and killed in broad day light by some armed robbers; I am reminded of the case in Ejura where some demonstrators were shot with some fatal casualties by our own security personnel. I am further reminded of the assault of some innocent citizens in a community by some soldiers for the simple reason that one soldier had misplaced his phone.
When we add to this the fact that there are some groups in this country who for want of political power and points incite young people to disrespect judges, pastors, the police, and those in authority, it seems that these people are leading the country into a very dangerous path. This immoral behavior by some adults for cheap political points must stop immediately.
- Fix The Country: Basically, every government is elected into power to fix the country. So it shouldn’t be any news when a government is being asked to fix the country – that is what governments are supposed to do. Any politician who does not want to hear that has taken on the wrong job. However, we should all know that fixing the country is not and cannot be a one way affair. We must all fix ourselves for the country to be fixed. It is we all who make the country; let us fix our hearts and attitudes so that the country can be fixed.
- In the same vein, I call for a responsible use of social media since we live in a country where the majority do not have the capacity to research into the sources of information they receive.
- We are once again grateful to the Lord for the free SHS system which we all applaud as one of the most courageous decisions of this Government. With the free SHS, many more people now have access to high school education which hitherto could not have for financial reasons.
However, all is not well with the free SHS system at all. In several cases they never complete the syllabus, and in other places the schools are so oversubscribed that some students are sleeping on the floor. We are aware that any such bold decision in a developing country will have teething problems, but some of these problems are beyond “the teething stage” and need some urgent attention. If something is not done quickly about these things, people will rebel against such an innovative and courageous policy of this government. If on the other hand the whole project is not sustainable, there is no harm in asking others to contribute to a fund to support this good system.
- 200th ANNIVESARY AND KUNTUNSE
In the year 2028 the PCG will be 200 years. That is seven years from now. I suggest that this Assembly mandates the GAC to set up a 200th Anniversary Planning Committee that will direct the Church on how we should celebrate this great event, and how we want the PCG to look like after 200 years of existence.
This plan should include the commissioning and dedication of our Kuntunse Project and should be premised on our history and ethos with serious research and stakeholders’ consultation, looking at the present context and with an eye of faith into the future. I think, as part of the 200th anniversary celebration, it will be in order to launch a new history book of the PCG, lectures, and more radical moves that will make our church more African, more current and more godly, as we enter our third century as a Church.
- THE ECCLESIASTICAL THEME AND A CONCLUSION: JESUS CHRIST, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
- I wish to formally announce that the theme for the Church for the next Ecclesiastical year is: Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
- In John 8:12, Jesus announced, “I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life”.
- The context of Chapter 7 is the feast of Tabernacles where Jesus would have seen lots of light lit up in the temple. During the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) there was a great ceremony called “Illumination of the Temple”, which involved the ritual lighting of four golden oil-fed lamps in the Court of Women. These lamps were huge candelabras (about seventy feet high) lighted in the Temple in the night to remind the people of the pillar of fire that had guided Israel in their wilderness journey. All night long the light shone their brilliance, illuminating the entire city.
- Immediately in chapter 8 (barring the placing of vs 1-11), Jesus declares that, He is the light of the world. Then in chapter 9 he heals a blind man who could now see light with his eyes but gets himself in trouble with the authorities for being healed of his blindness.
- One of the parallelisms of John is the contrast of light and darkness. This is even more common in His epistles. It is said of the great scientist, Albert Einstein that he admired Sir Isaac Newton so much so that he is noted to have once said: “And God said, let there be light, and there was Newton”. Most scientists do believe that light is basic to everything and it is usually understood as “electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is perceived by the visible eye”. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400 to 700 nanometers (nm), between the infrared (with longer wavelengths) and the ultraviolet (with shorter wavelengths). This physical understanding of light is not what the Apostle John had in mind.
- Neither was he making reference to color or race.
- John was using light and darkness in a metaphorical sense. For him, Light represents moral and spiritual purity, which is life in God through our Lord Jesus Christ; and darkness represents moral and spiritual impurity, which is life in the devil and indulgence in the flesh, self and the world. The latter is manifested under the controls of either the beast or the woman of Babylon in the book of Revelation 13:1-8, and 17:1-18.
- In some years past some countries in the world did very well seeking the light of the world (our Lord Jesus the Christ), and even sent out missionaries to several countries around the world to spread this light. Unfortunately, some of these countries have reverted to what their ancestors fought against, in terms of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:15-17). Some of these countries now have a new god called “atheistic human reasoning”. We must admit that this reasoning has helped some of them to develop very well in the world of technological advancement. Unfortunately because almost all our education (in our third-world countries) arise out of and is a sub-set of this style of advancement, almost the whole world is caught up in the worship of this new god which is leading all of us into deeper darkness of impure and immoral cultures.
Human reasoning which gives us good Science and technology is a very important aspect of our existence which must be taken with all seriousness; but to take human reasoning outside of God as a social absolute is itself unreasonable and a great departure of the faith – indeed it is an apostasy. The best that human reasoning outside of God can lead to is “deconstructive a-reasoning” which will collapse reasoning itself and society at large. This new god is causing so many societies around the world to accept moral relativism, exalting things of the flesh, occultism, Satanism, etc, as normal ways of living. It is as if the devil has used the same countries that once championed the Christian faith to now champion satanic causes. I Pet. 2:11 says: “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul”.
- It is in this kind of world that we need to declare again that Jesus, the Christ of God is the light. All other roads will lead to darkness.
- In saying that Jesus is the light, we have not said that there are no glimmers in any other religion. I see some glimmers in several religions – Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and even in some aspects of African Traditional Religion; but our Lord Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) who rises with healing in His wings, whereas other religions radiate different forms of light as in candles or flash lights or lanterns, etc. When the Sun is shining it is unimaginable to light a candle in the midst of day light.
- When we say that Jesus is the light of the world, we mean that in every aspect of life the way of Jesus should be our guide. Whether we are talking of academic knowledge, or research, or social values or national values or spirituality or common sense or law or philosophy or science or technology or entertainment or sports or journalism or social media, we will lose our bearings if we do not anchor whatever we do in the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. What we are saying is that the way of our Lord Jesus Christ is God’s way for humanity. We will grope in darkness as human beings without the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus is the word of God that is a light to our path (Ps. 119:105).
- Brothers and Sisters, there is a systematic erosion of the Christian faith from the centre of various cultures starting with the academic cultures in our universities and research centers, and in law, ethics, morality, the media, psychology, sociology, family life, etc. One can easily see that the removal of Christ from the center stage of life (as our light) is leading to more and more evil behaviors but it looks like people will rather die than return to our Lord Jesus as the center of life or the light of the world.
In so many countries around the world now, many more people will vote in favor of individual freedom than to vote for Jesus as the centre of values. Just about 70 years ago, this would never have been the case, as proper freedom was linked to the ethos of our Lord Jesus Christ. The declaration in our generation that Jesus is the light of the world then is a spiritual battle in our time. We as a Church will have to stand up and continue to declare everywhere, if even at the peril of our lives, that Jesus is the light of the world. I am afraid, very soon, some may have to suffer martyrdom for declaring that Jesus is the light of the word.
- Finally, it is important to link the fact that Jesus is the light of the world to the fact that Jesus declares also that we his disciples are light of the world (Matt. 5:16). If Jesus is the light of the world then our being light should be seen as our reflecting this Jesus in the world.
Just as the Olympic torch is lit from a main source in Greece, we can only be light by being lit from the main source which is Jesus our Lord. That is to say the Church can only be light of the world in so far as it stays connected to our Lord Jesus Christ. Actually, if anyone stays connected to our Lord Jesus Christ, the person automatically becomes light to the world, whether the person is aware or not.
- So the assumption in this long theological exegesis is that as far as Jesus is concerned, the world is and will be in darkness without Him and without the Church. The Church is a very important tool in the economy of God and no serious theology should ever play down the importance of the Church in God’s economy. In leading the Church then, we are leading the expression of Jesus as light in the world. If we become lukewarm, we will disappoint not only the Lord but also even the world. May the Lord give us the needed strength to be the light of the world.
- Of course when we talk of the world, it starts with ourselves, our families, our homes, our schools, our churches, our work places, our universities, our research institutions, our market places, our trotro stations, our ways of driving on our roads, our natural and social environments, and our spirituality. We are to be light in all these places, otherwise the world will walk in darkness.
- There are times when one feels like darkness is overcoming the light but we are reminded of the fact that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not (will not) overcome it” (John 1:5). In fact, Jesus also said in Matthew 16:18 that “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Let us all gird up our loins and in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ move on mightily in the supernatural and natural/physical realms, from victory to victory. The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.
May the light of our Lord Jesus shine and continue to shine in a world that now thinks that it knows more than Jesus Himself. We will not sit down to allow darkness to overshadow us; we will proclaim and continue to proclaim, and exhibit in our lives, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the light of the world. We should not be intimidated by any strategy of the evil one at all. Let us go and declare to all people, and exhibit by our lives, that Jesus is the real light of the world, and may the Lord’s presence continue to be with us through all eternity, for He did say, “and behold, I will be with you through all ages”. Amen and Amen.