Use appropriate structures to solve problems in the Methodist Church ( Thursday April 15, 2010 pg 20)

THE Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, the Most Rev Prof Emmanuel Asante, has advised members of the church to use the appropriate structures within the church to address their grievances, instead of resorting to demonstrations and acts that will bring Christ and the name of the church into disrepute.

The Bishop gave the advice when he led the top hierarchy of the church, including the Administrative Bishop, Rt Rev Asamoah Okyere; the Diocesan Bishop of Accra, Rt Rev Abraham Tagoe; the Lay President of the Methodist Bishops Conference, Mrs Araba Ata-Sam, and the Lay Chairman of the Accra Diocese, Mr Tim Acquah Hayford, to resolve the impasse between the church leadership and the Teshie North Methodist Church over the transfer of the resident Minister, Rev Ishmael Ghansah.

The confusion brought Easter Sunday church activities to a halt, as members wore red apparel and armbands to register their displeasure at the transfer of their resident minister to the Police Church at Odorkor.

The members contended that the transfer had been done without following the church's constitution.

However, calm has returned to the church and last Sunday members turned up in their numbers for worship, dressed mostly in white apparel.

Rev Ghansah, the minister at the centre of the controversy, was, however, not present at church but was said to be at his new post where he will take charge temporarily, in addition to the Teshie North Methodist Church, until September 2010.

The Most Rev Prof Asante noted that the church was governed by a constitution and standing orders, adding that “when there are problems, we give room for people to exploit all the right avenues to solve the problems”.

“Let the fear of the Lord and respect for our constitution remain and guide us and we will live in peace and honour the Lord,” he stated.

Explaining the rationale behind Rev Ghansah’s transfer, the Presiding Bishop said the decision was taken because the church realised an emergency situation in Accra and thought it needed a mature minister to handle the situation, adding, “Asking him to go there does not mean he was going to stay there forever; it is just a temporary measure.”

He said it was rather unfortunate that the Teshie North congregation chose Easter Sunday, of all days, to express their displeasure, noting that it was important that the people allowed the Spirit of God to work, instead of imposing their will.
He said no minister at any of the church’s congregations had ever remained there permanently.

The Presiding Bishop’s message was greeted with a thunderous applause at the end but it did not go without occasional interruptions, as some members expressed disagreement with some of his remarks.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Most Rev Prof Asante said after deliberations with the leadership of the Teshie North Methodist Church, it expressed remorse over the entire situation.

He said the present situation arose because the people were not conversant with the structures operating in the church.

He expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting with the leadership, saying, “I can assure you that this won’t happen again.”

The Diocesan Bishop of Accra, Rt Rev Abraham Tagoe, for his part, said the situation was unfortunate because the Teshie North congregation did not understand the procedures of the church, adding, however, that he was happy that it was all over.

“My advice is that when situations of this nature arise, we have to be patient and pray for guidance,” he said.

A member of the church, Mrs Mary Quaye, said she was satisfied with the decision the leadership of the church arrived at.

She, however, maintained that their protest against Rev Ghansah’s transfer had been legitimate.

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