History Of The Children’s Ministry In The PCG
The Basel missionaries had a holistic approach to mission. Their brand of Christianity was a way of life and education of children was a key component. They set up schools in the communities where literacy, vocation, and Christian living and values were taught. This is where the proverbial Presbyterian discipline was instilled in the child.
The Children’s Service as it currently exists in the Church was initiated by Ms Hogarth and Ms I. P. Ross, both secretaries to Dr A. W. Wilkie of the Scottish Mission, on 21st November, 1921 at the Ebenezer Congregation, Osu. The then Minister in charge of the Ebenezer Congregation, Rev L. L. Richter was supportive of this initiative. He charged the Headmaster of the Osu Salem School at the time, Master A. A. Holm (later Reverend Minister), to select overseers for the service and he selected the following three teachers on the staff of Osu Salem: Messrs Albert Cleland, E.K. Borbitey and E.M.L. Odjidja. Messrs Cleland and Odjidja later became Ministers of the Gospel in the church. In fact Rev Odjidja progressed to become a Moderator of the Church. The following five pupils of Osu Salem were also selected as helpers: Mr Nii Amaa Ollenu, who later became a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana and the Speaker of the Second Republican Parliament; Mr. A.K. Tawiah; Mr. J.K Adoteye; Mr. Theodore Lartey and Mr E.A. Adjei, who also became a Minister of the Gospel in the Church.
These pioneers for the service met weekly, called the meeting “training class” to prepare for the Sunday Service. Through outreach programs launched from Osu in the following years, the Children’s Service spread through the Congregations in the Ga Presbytery. Through various training programs, the Children’s Service Teachers were trained and provided with materials to help them run the services. Later, Children’s Services were started in the other Presbyteries.
The work of the service was under the supervision of the Youth Council. In October 1984, at a National Leadership Course organized by the Youth Council, the decision was taken to form an Interim National Children’s Commission to promote and organize the Children’s Ministry in the Church. The commission, working under the then National Youth Council and with representation from all the Presbyteries was chaired by Mr. E. D. Sowa of La, in the Ga Presbytery. The Commission submitted a comprehensive report on “Children’s Ministry in the Presbyterian Church of Ghana” in January, 1986.
Following recommendation from the then Youth Council, The National Children’s Workers Council and a Children’s Desk were established by the Synod in 1992, independent of the Youth Council. Mr. E. D. Sowa was then elected as the first National Chairman, and Rev Nii Teiko Dagadu was appointed the first General Secretary. By the year 2000, when the new Constitution was adopted for the Church, Children’s Committees had been established in all Presbyteries and Districts and almost every Congregation had an active Children’s Service. Progress was also made in the: Sensitization of Congregations and Agents on the importance of the Ministry; Annual celebration of Children’s Week and graduation to Junior Y in Congregations; Institution of Annual Children’s Camps at the Presbytery level; Institution of Easter Sunday and Christmas Day collections for the Children’s Center project; and Regular organization of conferences at National, Presbytery and District levels.
With the promulgation of the new Constitution, the Children’s Desk was abolished and replaced with the National Committee on Children’s Ministry which was inaugurated on 19th May 2001, under the Department of Church Life and Nurture by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt Rev Dr Sam Prempeh. Mr. Vincent Marji of Akyem Abuakwa Presbytery was elected the first chairperson of this Committee. The Presbyteries and Districts formed Committees on Children’s Ministry at their respective levels. Each Presbytery and District also appointed a Coordinator to coordinate the activities of the ministry.
By 2010, under the leadership of Mr. Vincent Lawer Marji (now Reverend) and Mr Ludwig Anang Hesse who became the Chairperson of the National Committee on Children’s Ministry in 2008, progress had further been made in the following areas: The publication of the first policy on Children’s Ministry by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana; The publication of Teacher’s Manuals for the instruction of children at Children’s Service; Publication of a manual on special programs and worship guide; the Institution of the Moderator’s Award to winners of the annual essay competition for children; Further promotion of the children’s ministry through the sensitization of Courts on the policy on children’s ministry; Preparation of syllabus for basic training of children’s service teachers; Institution of basic training courses for children’s service teachers; preparation of guidelines for record keeping and report writing; and the approval of guidelines for the appointment of children’s service teachers in the Congregations; among others.
“That every child will grow up a Christian, in the home, community and Church, where his/her developmental needs are met in a holistic manner”.
“The Children’s Ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana will work in partnership with others to bring children into the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ; and nurture them to grow physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually, into Christian maturity.”
Working in partnership with others recognizes the role of parents (or the family), society (government and community), and other structures in the Church, in the holistic nurture of children.
The Child is recognized as the primary focus of the ministry and his/her salvation and balanced (holistic) nurture is the key focus of the ministry. This is consistent with the way Jesus grew up as stated in Luke 2:52.
The policy of the Children’s Ministry breaks down the mission statement into seven policy objectives. These are stated below:
Objective 1: That the unsaved child is won for Christ
This is the first goal of the mission statement and is consistent with the mission Christ gave to the church in Mathew 28:19 to go and make all people (including children) His disciples.
Objective 2: That the child develops his/her full potential in life
This responds directly to the second goal of the mission statement which calls for the holistic development of the child. To meet this objective, the Church and for that matter the Children’s Service Teacher must have and contribute to the following developmental areas of the child’s development:
- Physically – by supporting children with basic fundamental needs of food, shelter and clothing;
- Intellectually – by paying particular interest in the academic progress of the children and giving special support to those whose parents are unable or refuse to provide for them in this regard;
- Emotionally – by the developing loving relationship with the children we nurture and providing counseling where required;
- Socially – by helping the children to develop the necessary social and moral skills required for good neighborliness; and
- Spiritually – by helping the children to develop their faith as Christians and bearing fruits that is in accordance with the teachings of the Bible.
Objective 3: That the saved child is regularly assured of his/her salvation and grows up into Christian maturity
This is achieved through the regular Bible truths the children are taught at home, school and church; and through the example of mentors and role models in the life of the child.
Objective 4: That the needs of needy children within and outside the Church are met
Although the physical and intellectual needs of a child are obvious and can easily be addressed with money; the emotional, social and spiritual needs are easily hidden and more difficult to deal with. Good guidance and counseling skills are required by Children’s Service Teachers to handle these.
Objective 5: That unsaved parents and guardians are reached for Christ
This is an objective targeted at a secondary target group, parents. But parents are the most important stakeholders in the life of the child. Their faith and the way they practice this creates the necessary environment for the faith and nurture of the child.
Objective 6: That Christian parents and guardians are educated on how to bring up their children as Christians
This is similar to objective 5. The Church can lead in this duty of improving parenting skills of its members. This will make clear to parents what their responsibility to their children is and through counseling help them to handle difficult challenges they may encounter in this regard.
Objective 7: That the rights and needs of children are promoted in the Church and in society at large
Every Child’s Service Teacher must become an advocate for children in the church and in society at large. We must be conversant with the fundamental human rights of the child in this regard.