The People Called Methodist
Launch Autonomy Celebrations
Very Rev. Dr. Casely B. Essamuah
All members of NAMD
In a ceremony filled with funfair, joyous singing and spontaneous excitement, Ghanaian Methodists from all over the world gathered, some in person, and others virtually through Facebook, at the cradle of their church, the premier Wesley Cathedral at Cape Coast to launch the 60th anniversary of their independence from the British Conference since 28 July, 1961. Launching the anniversary and calendar of planned events, the Presiding Bishop the Most Reverend Paul K. Boafo recalled the significant roles played by Ghanaian Methodists in developing Ghana. In particular, he stated that it was because of the inaugural visit of British missionary Thomas Birch Freeman, and the gift given by the king of England, a carriage to facilitate the Asantehene’s travel in Kumasi that a road had to be constructed between Cape Coast and Kumasi. The church’s role therefore goes beyond religious activities. He also honored the memory of Freeman and his Ghanaian counterpart William DeGraft who took the Methodist faith to Benin and onwards to Abeokuta, Nigeria. A minute’s silence was observed in memory of the last surviving signatory to the Deed of Foundation of the Methodist Church, the late Dr. Benoni K. Bondzi-Simpsonm, who was buried the day before.
Preaching from the pulpit erected over the mortal remains of the first five missionaries who brought Methodism to Ghana, the Presiding Bishop extolled their sacrifice leaving their comfort zones and travelling, sometimes for 11 months by sea, to an uncertain future, with the only assurance that their mission is of the Lord and will be eventually successful. The Presiding Bishop exhorted the congregation that this story needs to be told to the younger generation too. Reflecting on the day’s gospel reading, John 17, the Most Rev. Dr Paul Boafo, assured the congregation that they were so valuable and precious to our Savior that he mentioned us in his final and lengthiest prayer, referred to as the High Priestly Prayer. Furthermore, we need to always remember that it is God who ensures the church’s security, and it is God’s Word that consecrates us. Our response is obedience. Elaborating briefly on the latter part of the gospel reading, Dr. Boafo, stated that God ordains that we overcome our divisiveness and operate with a sense of oneness – and that which secures our sense of unity and oneness is love. Love for God, for our neighbors, ourselves and even for our enemies. The Presiding Bishop reminded the congregation that it is only the people called Methodist who operate with a sense of connectionalism, which means that each is a part of the whole, and none can say to the other I have no need of you. We are all one in Christ.
The story of the church since 1835 was also recalled in an elaborate ebibindwom which mentioned the names of all Ghanaian presiding bishops, the provision of schools and hospitals, the introduction of episcopacy among other achievements of the church.
A calendar of events has been drawn up to culminate in a final Thanksgiving Service also scheduled for Cape Coast, August 1, 2021.
The writer, the Very Rev. Dr. Casely B. Essamuah, a Ghanaian Methodist minister, serves with the permission of the Ghana Conference, as Secretary, Global Christian Forum. Formerly he was Synod Secretary for the North America Mission Diocese of the Methodist Church Ghana, and author of Genuinely Ghanaian: History of the Methodist Church Ghana, 1961-2000. He can be reached at <Caselyessamuah@gmail.com>