Abetefi

The 2011 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana was held in late August the picturesque mountain town of Abetefi. (also spelled Abetifi)

Presbyterian church in Abetifi, Ghana

Presbyterian church in Abetifi, Ghana

The opening was a mixture of western and Ghanaian influences. As in many American churches, the songs were projected on a screen, but with two differences. First, the songs were hymns. Second, they were projected in two languages side-by-side: Twi and Ga. Ghanaians have no qualms about mixing pieces of their tradition and culture with other influences and then tossing in a bit of technology to create what they want.

As the moderator ascended the pulpit, a lady in the audience created a disturbance. She called out in a language I did not understand while flailing her limbs. Depending on your world-view and theology you would either say that she was having a mental breakdown or that she was demon possessed. The Ghanaians I talked to offered the latter explanation. Three men started carrying her out the back by force. The moderator asked that the lady be brought forward and he designated three pastors to pray for her. After that the men took her outside.

In a sign of changing times in the oldest continually operating church in Ghana, founded in 1829, the moderator, who was finishing his first year in that office, thanked all those who had sent encouraging text messages to his phone. The way mobile phones have exploded here, it is not surprising that it is in Africa that I first heard people thanked publicly for sending encouraging text messages.

The choir was really great! In another example of mixing traditions: they sang a cappella in classical style but in a Ghanaian language, Twi. You can listen to a recording I made of the choir singing in Twi. I made it on my compact camera so the quality of the recording does not do the choir justice.

My overall impression was of an African church that had made the Gospel its own

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