The official opening of the General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. But this wasn’t just any assembly it was also part of the 175th year celebration to mark the founding of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church as a result of the missionary efforts of the North German Mission Society (Bremen Mission) with which the Evangelical Presbyterian Church still works closely. To mark this occasion the President of the Bremen Mission was present throughout the Assembly and the President of the Republic of Ghana – Professor John Evans Atta-Mills was due to speak.
Everyone was encouraged to dress in “Jubilee Dress”, hence the measuring of the previous day. I was made a Ghanaian dress in the special fabric – a beautifully made garment which took the dressmaker less than two hours to complete.
On the previous day we had all been told very firmly that we needed to be at the church by 9.00am because the president was coming. I was to be part of the procession of ‘dignitaries’ and to bring him greetings from the United Reformed Church.
Arriving at the church at 8.30am there were many police and security people around as well as groups of Girl’s Brigade, choir members and a band. Inside the church there was singing and more music and everywhere lots of people looking anxious as they tried to make sure that everyone was where they should be.
There was a constant stream of Evangelical Presbyterian Church members, many dressed in a variety of garments, both male and female, made in the Jubilee fabric but many too dressed in other traditional dress in wonderful coloured textiles.
But then the waiting began – the President eventually arrived, an hour and a half late, the security men and the photographers almost outnumbering the choir. Despite all that he received a very warm welcome from the congregation and I did give him greetings from the United Reformed Church. I found the Moderator’s welcome speech with its overt and direct appeals to government a very different way of making those connections but I also heard a President, who is a practicing Christian, able to articulate something of how his faith related to his role – that is not to say that he didn’t use some of his time to make some political points.
This was a very special morning for this part of God’s family and it was a great privilege to be a part of it.
Later that day I was able to offer greetings from the United Reformed Church assuring them of our prayers and our commitment to unity and diversity – a phrase which was used on a number of occasions by their members and leaders. I was asked to bring greetings from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana to the United Reformed Church.