By ACNS staff
Ghanaian bishop Festus Yeboah-Asuamah told a recent meeting of Ghanaian theologians that while the challenges facing the Communion were “complex”, and that the answers may yet be “far away” there was hope in unity.
Speaking at the latest Continuing Indaba ‘hub’ meeting, Bishop Festus said, “There is hope! We should try as much as possible to keep the Anglican Communion together – we are one family.”
He was one of ten theologians who met on March 4-5 to consider how Ghanaian culture and theology could shape the Continuing Indaba1 initiative taking place across the Anglican Communion.
Facilitated by Dr Victor Atta-Baffoe, Dean of St Nicholas Seminary in Ghana’s Cape Coast, the group considered a number of models of conversation from their cultural perspectives that resonate with the Scriptures and the traditions of the church.
The group, which comprised both lay and ordained men and women, considered how the Scriptures and Christian tradition might resonate with Ghanaian cultural perspectives to assist the Anglican Communion. In particular they discussed the place of the wisdom of the ‘Old Lady’ in Ghanaian culture. The Old Lady is understood as collective wisdom concerned for finding an end to otherwise endless dialogue by paying attention to the unity of the whole community. The theologians also reflected on the significance of the ‘linguist,’ the ‘gong gong’ or ‘proclaimer’, and the ‘talking drum’ in discovering identity and maintaining unity in diverse communities.
The group ranged in age from 29 to 72. One of the older members remarked that he discovered that some of their traditional practices had great value because they often relate closely to Scripture.
The Ven Paul Katampu reflected on the peace efforts in the north of Ghana that helped to prevent civil war there. The process concentrated on grassroots peace-building before addressing issues directly. Mrs Stella Ansah, the leader of the Alpha groups in Accra diocese , said “Whatever we do here we should bring it down to earth so the lay at the local level can be helped in the tensions that exist in many parishes in our dioceses.”
The consultation was the latest of the Continuing Indaba resource hubs that aim to gather resources to ensure that Continuing Indaba is faithful to Scripture and shaped by the cultures of the Communion. Other hubs have taken place in Kenya, Tanzania and Southern Africa as well as the West Indies, England, North India, Hong Kong and the USA.
The hub was convened by Bishop Matthias Medadues-Badohu – Presiding Bishop of Ghana – and resourced by Canon Phil Groves of the Anglican Communion Office. Canon Groves was welcomed to Ghana by the Most Revd Justice Okrofi, Primate of West Africa and by the House of Bishops of Ghana meeting in Kumasi on March 1.
The theologians have committed themselves to write essays and articles emerging from their discussions for future publication. Vincent Assanful, who lectures in traditional religions at Ghana’s University of Cape Coast, was greatly encouraged by the consultation. He said, “People must sit together and listen”.
See below for a statement by Dr Victor Atta-Baffoe.
Notes to Editors
Statement made by The Very Revd Dr Victor Atta-Baffoe, Dean of St Nicholas Seminary, Cape Coast Ghana.
We gathered here in the name of God with mutual concern and responsibility. We met as a body with our uniqueness and differences, but for one purpose - of listening and encouraging each other in "a journey of conversation to strengthen relationship for mission" in the Anglican Communion.
As people of faith, we have encouraged ourselves within the context of prayer and reflection, to draw on our cultural and traditional heritage to enhance the listening and conversation process for the Communion and also the Anglican Church, Ghana.
I am happy to say that we have, individually and collectively, committed ourselves to this noble task. We look forward to creating space for reflective thinking and conversation. We hope, God willing to meet again from 4th to 5th May, 2011 to share those thoughts and to engage in further discussion and reflection.
We know the task ahead will not be easy but we are hopeful. We trust the grace of God for direction, fortitude and sense of purpose, the love Christ to sustain us and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in this enterprise. We thank you all for your commitment and sense of duty for this project. God bless you all.