E.P Church and Global Evangelical Church to reunite?
The frosty relationship between the Evangelical Presbyterian (E.P) Church,Ghana and Global Evangelical (GEC) Church in the early days of the split of the then Evangelical Presbyterian Church is almost a thing of the past.
According to the Moderator of the E.P Church, Rt Rev Dr Seth Agidi, the two churches had worked together to reduce the acrimony, pointing to a prospect of uniting as one church again in the future.
“Our relationship as at now is very cordial. We are no longer fighting. We have put in place some years back a reconciliation committee which targeted the hot spots,” said during a courtesy call to the Graphic Communications Group Limited.
The visit was to introduce the new Moderator who was inducted into office in January this year and also seek possible areas of collaboration between the two institutions.
The two churches split in the early 1980s over constitutional disagreement on the terms of office of the Moderator. The situation forced a crack in the church resulting in turf battles in local congregations across the country.
Rev.Prof. Noah Komla Dzobo was elected Moderator of the Church in 1981, and he took over as the 8th indigenous Moderator of the E. P. Church. Rev. Prof. Dzobo was full of physical development projects emphasizing community development and education.
In 1983, Rt. Rev. Prof Dzobo caused to be printed and circulated within the Church a constitution allegedly dated 1980 at Betannia and held to have been done at the joint synod of the Church held from 14 – 18 February, 1980 at Betannia, Lome in Togo.
This Constitution contained a controversial provision in Article 31 which stipulated that a Moderator or Synod Clerk could be elected as many times as possible to office provided he was capable. This provision conflicted with the 1975 (also known as 1979) constitution. The “insertion” raised a lot of protest from a broad category of church membership from laity to clergy.
On Friday 24 June 1988, about ten persons representing a group which was called “Concerned Members” of the E. P. Church met Prof. Dzobo to discuss some disturbing issues including the constitutional matters with him. Their discussions ended in a stalemate. And when Prof Dzobo managed to get the Synod of 1988 to endorse his controversial third term in office, the Concerned Members resorted to seek redress from the courts.
The Ho High Court ruled initially to nullify the endorsement of Prof. Dzobo as Moderator for the third term. Rev. Prof. Dzobo promptly appealed against the ruling and also had its execution stayed.
After some lapse of time, the Court of Appeal in Accra decided on the matter. The Ruling of the Appeal Court could be summed as follows: The E. P. Church has been without a valid constitution since 1978.
This ruling implied that Rev. Prof. Noah Komla Dzobo's election since 1980 has been unconstitutional and done in error. The ruling in effect had set the stage for each faction to decide the next line of action. It was indeed the spark that legalized the split in the Church.
But speaking at the meeting which also touched on issues including, the role of E.P Church and the GCGL in national development, mission schools management, religious tolerance in Ghana, the E.P Church Moderator said the church had in some years back put together a reconciliation committee which targeted the hot spots of the conflict.
“Even at the hot spot is some areas, the Global has already gone out to build their own church, and in some areas the E.P have also built or in the process of building, so they are not in need of the old building. In some areas, they are collaborating to build.”
He, however, admitted that some of the issues were still in court with some of the congregations not willing to withdraw until the court decides.
“We are talking slowly of organic unity. We all know that it is going to take time. As far as we are concern, that is the passion and goal of the Christian church. That is what Christ preached, that all may be one,” he said.
Other issues ...
On mission schools management, he said it was the wish of the church that if government could not hand over the management of the schools to the churches, the churches should at least be allowed to appoint school heads.
Rt Rev Dr Agidi who was accompanied by some leaders of the church including the Clerk of the General Assembly, Mr Godwin Osiakwa was full of praise for the GCGL and the Ghanaian media in general and stated that the function of the media could not be underestimated.
“The church needs the media to make significant impact through its evangelism drives and other forms of advocacy campaigns for favourable behavioural change and adoption of values of integrity,” he said.
The Director of Newspapers of the GCGL, Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo, who walked the E.P Church team through the various brands of the company also recalled vividly the days of the split of the E.P church acknowledged the importance of churches to national unity and development.
“The church and other religious groups are critical in healing wounds and serving as bridge that brings all of us together,” he said.
He said the visit of the E.P Church delegation was a demonstration of the fact that the GCGL meant something to the church.
The Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Ransford Tetteh, express concern over the reluctance of church leaders to speak out on issues of national concern because of the polarised nature of the country’s politics.