NEW GHANA ADVENTIST FELLOWSHIP IS FIRST IN WELSH MISSION

2nd March 2013

On Sabbath 2 March some 200 guests, most of them Ghanaian and many of them wearing traditional dress, packed the Donnington Methodist Church for the inauguration of the Telford Ghana Seventh-day Adventist Fellowship. 

The event was planned and coordinated by Pastor George Asiamah, together with Daniel Appoh and other local Ghanaian members who will make up the core of the new fellowship, in conjunction with EGACCOM, the Euro-Ghanaian Community of Seventh-day Adventist Churches, and CCC, the Central Coordinating Committee of Ghanaian churches in the UK. Most of the proceedings were carried out in the Twi language, with interpretation provided by EGACCOM Pastor, Collins Amofah, from the London Ghana church. though there was one English Sabbath School class, led by Kingsley Asare Bediako. Other EGACCOM and CCC representatives included K T Abbequaye, Jason Essel, and Daniel Atakora. 

Many of the guests were surprised to learn that Telford, despite being just 18 miles from Wolverhampton, is in fact in the territory of the Welsh Mission. The reasons for this are practical rather than political, with Hereford, Telford and Shrewsbury forming  a convenient link between the north and the south of Wales. 

There is another Adventist church in Telford and the Ghanaian Adventists have been worshipping with them for a number of years. However the Ghanaian members realised that there was a need for services in their native language, both for the purposes of fellowship and outreach. The initial response has borne this out, with a number of visitors and former members now attending regularly. 

Providing a pastor for the new fellowship is a challenge acknowledged by Welsh Mission President Pastor John Surridge. "We have new groups starting up all over the Welsh Mission and it's a real problem trying to fit them in to our current district plan. We only have a limited number of ministers and it doesn't make sense to spread them too thinly. In the case of a Ghanaian congregation, whose members speak Twi, our options are even more limited. Fortunately we are blessed with a Ghanaian pastor in the south and he is willing to incorporate the new fellowship into his district – even though it is over 100 miles away!" 

Simon Ampabeng from the Birmingham Ghana fellowship coordinated the Sabbath School programme which included a solo by Nana Amankwah Tiah of the Elephant and Castle church in London, and a Twi class led by Solomon Donkor. 

During the Divine Service K T Abbequaye, who as well as serving as the EGACCOM Executive Treasurer is also a member of the BUC Executive Committee, welcomed the new Telford fellowship into the international Ghanaian Adventist community. He also spoke about the wider activities of EGACCOM and read messages of encouragement from Pastor Charles Bediako, EGACCOM chairman, and Pastor George Dadey, CCC chairman. 

The formal part of the service began with Pastor Surridge charging those present to give their full support to the fledging Telford community, and Daniel Larbi, elder of the Coventry Henley Green church, praying for all of those who would be involved. A rousing song by the Reading Ghana Youth Choir then led into the sermon. 

Pastor Surridge chose as his topic, "Faithful in a Strange Land", based on Daniel chapter one. Wearing a traditional Ghanaian "Fugu" outfit Pastor Surridge initially pointed out that although he was not a Ghanaian national he did feel a strong affinity with the Ghanaian Adventist community as he had spent some years of his childhood in Accra. Also, his wife was born in Ghana, providing a further bond. However, using the biblical story of Daniel and his friends, he went on to highlight some of the pitfalls of trying to be faithful to God when you are living in a strange land. "Cultural and religious practices differ and it's sometimes difficult to work out what is right and wrong in your new setting,"  he said. "Like Daniel and his friends we will have to use every means at our disposal – biblical knowledge, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and our own intelligence – to make these difficult decisions." 

Excellent music was provided throughout the day by the Telford Ghana Choir, the Birmingham Ghana Choir, the Reading and Slough Youth Choir, and soloists Nana Amankwah Tiah and Bro Delefield (from Burundi) to name but a few. 

To describe the food that was provided would a separate article. Suffice it to say that every kind of Ghanaian dish was provided, including specially prepared  balls of kenkey from the Londoners. 

More than 100 photos from the day can be seen on the Welsh Mission website at: www.adventistwales.org.

[Collins Amofah and John Surridge - 029 2084 4106]


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