THE LEGACIES OF THE BASEL MISSION IN GHANA REVISITED INTRODUCTION The Basel Mission (BM) a non-denominational ecumenical missionary society founded in 1815 made its presence significantly felt in Ghana from 1828 to 1918. Its role in the socio-economic, cultural and religious life of Ghanaians is undisputed. The Presbyterian Church of Ghana, which stands in historical succession to the Basel Mission, is a living testimony of the legacy of the BM to Ghana. This paper begins by setting the work of the BM against the background of Ghanaian social structure at the advent of the BM on the Ghanaian scene. It then looks at the BM prior and after the first World War. It highlights some of the major activities of the BM and look as some of its legacies particularly in the area of language development and its implications for the contemporary spiritual renewal taking place in Ghanaian Christianity. TRADITIONAL SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF GHANA Archaeological evidence indicates that there were settlements along the coast of Ghana as far back as 30, 000 years ago. Around the 8th century AD, the earliest people settled along the present Ghana.1 Portuguese were among the first European visitors to the West coast of Africa around the 15th century in search of Gold. They discovered enormous deposit of Gold (earning present-day Ghana the name Gold Coast). As a result, many European nations, including the Danish, French, Dutch and the English, built several forts which served as trading posts along the coast, some of which still survive. Trade later developed into the Slave Trade, which continued until it was abolished in the 19th century. A study of the political history of Ghana between the 15th and 19th centuries gives a rather dismal picture of rivalry among European traders and their governments in Ghana. They all sought to monopolise trade and political power. From the 15th century onwards, a number of independent states of varying size, power and wealth emerged in Ghana. Examples are Fante, Ga, Akyem, Denkyira, Akwamu, Asante, Anlo and Krobo. These states were engaged in interstate wars either to establish their independence or to assert their supremacy. Such wars engendered formation of alliances between the independent states and Europeans who promised to protect them against the attack of other states. The Europeans took advantage of these alliances to get the states to sign various treaties which ensured that they submitted themselves to the protection of these Europeans. Meanwhile, the independent states had their own respective social structures which ensured a high degree of self-sufficiency, security and harmonious existence. They had their own political organizations which chiefs or traditional priest as their leaders. In states where they had centralized political systems, they had a hierarchy of chiefs culminating in the paramount chief. Ghanaian traditional politics and religion have always been inseparable because there is a generally held belief that the gods and the world of spirits are the sources of political power. 1 See Richard Synge (ed.), ‘Ghana’ in Africa Guide (Essex: Africa Guide Co. 1977), p. 141. 2 Ghanaians had their own religious institution at the advent of the Basel missionaries. As a matter of fact, the religious apprehension of Ghanaians was open to God. Ghanaians had and still has a spirituality that is open and all embracing. For them, the spiritual is the inner reality of the material world, and this is given religious expression in their daily activities. For them God is very immanent and real and he is accordingly acknowledged in their primal religions as the creator, the sustainer of the world and the dependable one. They have their own idea of salvation which according to J.D.K. Ekem could be positively defined among Akans as: …the maintenance of society´s equilibrium/holistic well-being through an appeal to the supernatural with the aid of ceremonial rituals. Important among these are sacrificial rites for propitiatory, expiatory and reconciliatory purposes. The supernatural powers usually work through 2 human channels who dramatize and interpret their wishes to supplicants using symbolic gestures. Apart from the BM, other missionary bodies also operated in Ghana. They included, the Wesleyan Missionary Society who arrived in 1835, the North German Missionary Society who arrived in 1847 as well as the Roman Catholic Mission which resumed work in Ghana in 1880 and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) who also resumed work in Ghana in 1904. Other missionary bodies were the Seventh Day Adventitst, 1898, the Baptist Mission, 1898 and Salvation Army, 1911. Islam was also making a major impact on the people. It started from the northern part of the country through the influence of Fulani and Hausa Moslem traders. Islam spread to many parts of the northern section of the country. Similarly, Ghanaians had their own traditional non-formal educational, economic, and marriage institutions which ensured harmonious living and continuity of society. MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA IN THE 19TH CENTURY. In general during the 19th century most parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa witnessed an intensive missionary activity due to developments in the European content. Among such changes were the emergence of anti-slavery movement to counteract the trans-Atlantic slave trade which efforts were made to abolish and replace it with legitimate trade which was perceived as more advantageous to Europe 3 ; the evangelical revivals which engendered a deep passion for evangelization of foreign lands which thus led to the formation of missionary societies;4 and a burning desire among evangelicals to compensate Africa for the injustice done her through the 2 J.D.K. Ekem, Priesthood in Context, Hamburg, Verlag an der Lottbek, 1994, p. 35. 3 See C.P. Groves, The Planting of Christianity in Africa. Vol One to 1840 (London, 1948), pp.189-194; K. O. Dike, Origins of the Niger Mission, 1841-1891, Ibadan 1962; pp. 4-5; J.F. Ade Ajayi (ed.), Africa in the 19th century until the 1880’s, General History of Africa, Vol. VI, p.66; S. Jakobson, Am I not a man and a brother? British Missions and the abolition of the slave trade and slavery in West Africa and the West Indies. 1786-1838 (Uppsala, 1972), pp. 23-24, refers to industrial and economic revolution in England as a factor that influenced the attitudinal change to slavery and the slave trade. 4 S. Jakobsson, I am not a man and a brother?, pp.28-29; C.P. Groves, The Planting of Christianity in Africa, pp. 197-205. 3 slave trade by providing social amenities and projects that were perceived to enhance their well-being as a people.5 THE BASEL MISSION IN GHANA BEFORE THE WAR The roots of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (hereafter known as PCG) go back to the Basel Evangelical Missionary Society later to be known as the Basel Mission (BM hereafter) in the Gold Coast, which lasted in Ghana for 90 years, from 1828 to 1918. The first batch of missionaries to the Gold Coast arrived at Christiansborg on 18 December 1828. The BM was a collection of German and Swiss farmers and craftsmen and their essentially middle-class spouses fired by a burning zeal for the cause applied themselves to the task of spreading Christian teaching and to persuade the people of the Gold Coast, that the Pietist version of Christianity was their best hope for the construction of a morally and materially better life.6 We can describe the fate of the early missionaries as dismal. It was ‘one of stubborn determination on the one side, and tragedy on the other. Three times, at the beginning, in the late 1820s and 1830s, parties of missionaries were almost completely wiped out by illness. Andreas Riis who was a member of the second batch, by God’s grace survived through the help of a traditional herbalist and moved to Akropong-Akwapim in 1935. The climate was more conducive for Riis but he laboured without realizing any tangible success. God in His wisdom proved to the people of Akwapim that His light is universal (both for Europeans and Africans). The BM was compelled to adopt a new strategy which saw the transfer of the first batch of 24 ex-African Christian slaves from Jamaica and Antigua to the Gold Coast to be part of the missionary team at a time when the BM was deciding to give up their mission in the Gold Coast. Their arrival in April 1843 and settling at Akropong marked the beginning of a new phase of BM activity in the Gold Coast. The work of the BM saw a marked and steady progress both horizontally (in terms of geographical expansion) and vertically in terms of depth – impact on the religious social economic life of the people of the Gold Coast. The breakthrough was made when a new generation of Basel Missionaries, their wives, the West Indies and local Christians who served as interpreters, catechists, pastors and friends of the missionaries (some of whom were chiefs and herbalist) joined forces to consolidate the mission. This collaborative venture is a classic example of intercultural theology which is a pre-requisite for successful and enduring mission. Up to 1914, there was a high death-rate among the missionaries. 141 of them died in Ghana between 1828 and 1913 – this figure excludes their children who also died in their numbers. The worst frustrating crisis was the world war I which was declared in 1914 which initially restricted the work until their eventual expulsion on 16 December 1917. But the encouraging fact is that, a 5 K. O. Dike, Origins of the Niger Mission, p.5; O.U. Kalu, ”Church Presence in Africa: a historical analysis of the evangelization process”, in African Theology En Route, pp. 13-21…”, pp. 17-18. 6 Jon Miller, Missionary Zeal and Institutional Control, p. 33. 4 mission which started in a dismal and a precarious manner to the extent that the home mission wanted to recall A. Riis, can be described as robust. THE WAR The breaking out of the First World War saw Britain and France dismantling German interests abroad. Due to the close historic connections between the BM and German churches, the British government imposed restriction on it, and eventually deported its missionaries of German nationality in7 December 1917. This was a bitter pill for the Basel Mission as well as local Christians who benefited from their labour to swallow. However, this was also to become an advantage to the building of a formidable and sustainable local Christian Church administration. Nevertheless, the BM left remarkable footprints on Ghanaian soil. More than any other missionary society in Ghana, the BM made its mark in its introduction of socio-economic projects like plantation farms, roads and schools (both literary and vocational education) as well as the development of local languages and human resources. These projects and achievements have left a lasting impact on the PCG and Ghana as a whole. The PCG proudly continued to identify itself with the BM by calling themselves in the Twi language, Baselfoo and the BM church was casually referred to as Basel Asore. 8 The BM played a significant role in the emancipation of the Gold Coast from colonial domination. The BM had an aim of raising up educated Africans to take charge of future missionary work and of inculcating in them the virtues of hard and honest labour, discipline yielded good dividends. More than any other missionary society, the BM is noted for its introduction of socio-economic projects, scientific farming, social amenities, roads, and schools as well as language study. Noel Smith aptly summarises the achievements of the BM enterprise in the country as follows: In education and in agriculture in artisan training and in the development of commerce, in medical services and in concern for the social welfare of the people, the name ‘Basel’, by the time of the expulsion of the Mission from the country, had become a treasure word in the minds of the people 9 During the 150th anniversary of the PCG, Fred Agyemang, a Ghanaian Presbyterian author corroborated Noel Smith’s observation by noting with pride that: We Presbyterians produced the first Speaker in the nation’s parliament, five university vice-chancellors, one President of our Republic, one of the two first District Commissioners, the first government hospital nurse, the first scholarship awarded… for overseas study, the first two Ghanaian secretaries to Cabinet, the first Ghanaian commercial air-pilot, the first woman lawyer and judge, two deans of the medical school, the first woman religious minister, the first commissioner of police, the first Army officers, the first inspector-general of police, the first 7 In Ghana, about 70% of the Basel Missionaries were of German origin. 8 ‘Baselfoo’ literally means ‘Basel People’, and ‘Basel Asore’ is an unofficial name for the Church founded by BM which means ‘Basel Church’. Up till now the name `Baselfoo` is synonymous with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, especially among the elderly. 9 Noel Smith, The Presbyterian Church of Ghana,, 1835-1960, P. 159. 5 woman veterinary surgeon, and the first head student of the University of the Gold Coast.10 (Fred Agemang, We Presbyterians, p. 8). There is not doubt that the above achievements were largely the outcome of the labour of the BM. I believe if we were to update these achievements by products of the PCG we shall have a tall impressive list of even more remarkable exploits. The BM certainly had a major impact on Ghana as an agent of social change, it was indeed an important factor in the emergence of modern Ghanaian society. Evidence that the PCG valued the role of the BM in its development and the growth of the Ghanaian state are two significant gestures made by the Synod of the PCG in 1920 and 1922. Firstly, In 1920, the Synod decided to ”write to the Basel Missionary Society heartily thanking them for their noble work done for the church on the Gold Coast”.11 A more significant evidence was yet to come in 1922. The war brought in its trail severe economic depression in Europe and reports reached the PCG that former missionaries had their share of the financial strain at home.12 As a result the Synod Committee of the PCG decided to levy each female member 2s and every male member, 5s which amounted to £500 by July 1923 and was sent to Basel Mission for distribution. A letter signed by Rev. H. Burckhadt, President and Rev. W. Oettli, Secretary was sent by the BM to acknowledge receipt of the money and to thank the PCG as follows: ”your donation was especially valuable to us also as a testimony of lover and attachment of the members of the church on the Gold Coast to their old missionaries.”13 A second donation of £525 15s was sent to the missionaries in 1924 which was again acknowledged by Rev. Oettli who also informed the Synod Committee that the situation had improved so the donations was not more necessary.14 These gestures are significant in the sense that they point to the legacy of mutual sharing which the BM left behind in Ghana. POST WAR In 1926 the Basil Missionaries returned to what would now become a collaborative venture with their immediate successors. The 2 missions, Basel and Scottish Presbyterians worked together into the Presbyterian Church of Gold coast--a transition that was fraught with difficulty. In 1930, after a fundamental revision of the Church’s constitution, the Synod Committee, which comprised a significant African representation became the legal trustees of the church’s properties. In 1950 Africans took over full leadership of the schools. I want to pick the following significant issues emerging from the role of the BM in the history of the PCG - from the pre-war to the post-war period for further discussion. There are: 1. Administrative Structure 10 Fred Agyemang, We Presbyterians, (Accra: Presbyterian Press, P.8). 11 The Scottish Mission, Minutes of Synod, 1920, p. 22, Min. 19, cited by Charles Gyang Duah, The Scottish Mission Factor in the Development of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana: 1917-1957 12 Charles Gyang Duah, The Scottish Mission Factor in the Development of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana: 1917-1957 13 See Minutes of Synod Committee of the Presbyterian Church of the Gold Coast, 4 th-6th December, 1923, pp. 84-85. 14 See Minutes of the Synod Committee, 16th December, 1924. 6 2. Vernacular based church 3. Discipline 4. Spiritual Renewal ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURES OF THE CHURCH The Church was organized around 11 circuits which were further put under the following 3 districts headed by BM staff: The Ga-Adangme (comprings Osu, Abokobi, Ada, and Krobo-Odumase); The Twi Eastern district made up of Aburi, Akropong and Anum and Twi Western district which was made up of Nsaba, Begoro, Abetifi and Kumase. 15 Elders were appointed to assist the missionaries. The whole mission field was directly under the oversight of a Mission Council who sent regular reports to the Mission Board in Basel that effectively took all decisions for the mission field. The Ghanaian Christian leaders fought against what they perceived as a totalitarian rule of the BM and agitated for more participation in the decision making process of the church. For instance, there were attempts of breakaways spearheaded by one Emmanuel Osabute at Ada in 1881. Similarly a group of Christians demonstrated against was they called ”…tyranny of the laws and regulations of the Basel Mission” at Abokobi.16 The BM was compelled to involve indigenous Christians in the decision making process. Some of the efforts were orgainizing the whole mission field under 2 synods; the Twi synod and the Ga-Adangme Synod which held separate synods in 1909 at Aburi and Krobo Odumase respectively. The BM to its dismay realized this arrangement was a recipe for agitations against their administrative arrangements. The Twi district also resolved that local people are made to take their own decisions. Some aspects of the resolution written by Rev. J. Boateng reads as follows: A point which …engaged our attention is how in spite of the hopeful progress, work is sometimes checked in its advanced by the serious loss and drawbacks…how the agents and the congregation need especially their own Native Committee who knows and understands them to see to their own internal affairs…This has for many years been the cry of many of us that a motion asking the recognition of such a committee receive unanimous consent.17 The response of the BM was that, local agents were not mature enough to be involved in decision making so that process must proceed slowly for some decades. As a result they stopped the Synod meetings and continued with their paternalistic policy. The BM promoted this unfortunate paternalistic system of church administration, which did not involve local people directly in church administration. Nevertheless, in their leadership style, the BM demonstrated the Reformed idea of democratic church government which prepared the grounds for the United Free Church of Scotland which took up the administration of the orphaned church after the war to change the system by involving the indigenous people more in administration and to be more responsible for their own affairs. Thus the Scottish Mission only built on the foundation laid by the BM. 15 Basel Mission Report, 1900, pp. 5-8 16 Debrunner, Abokobi and the Basel Mission, G.N.A., Accra EC6/1, p. 12. 17 Report of the Conference of Native Agents in Twi District belonging to the Basel Mission held at Kyebi in 1909, G.N.A., Ec1/10. 7 THE PROVERBIAL PRESBYTERIAN DISCIPLINE In this day age everybody looks up to the Presbyterian Church to for solution to the problem of indiscipline in Ghana. This is because in the history of the PCG it is identified as a group of people having an ethos of hard work, honesty and discipline. This is clearly, a nostalgic reference to BM mission ethos and discipline which continued in the PCG. But nobody seems to look for the historical ingredients that manifested itself as discipline. In other words being Presbyterian does not automatically mean that you are disciplined. For me as a historian my pre-occupation is to go back to the roots of ”Presbyterian Discipline”. It is intricably linked with the Pietistic ethos which put much weight on the centrality of the Bible and emphasis on personal knowledge of Christ and its application in ones daily life. In other words in a religiously pluralistic society, if you keep on telling people to read less and practice less of the Bible then you have no point in asking them to apply Biblical discipline which underpins the Presbyterian discipline that we the nation is yearning for. Essentially, what I mean is that when we are calling for Presbyterian discipline then we are saying the Bible is to be re-instated in our church, schools and society. We are then asking people to love and serve Christ who is the light of the world and the model of our type of disciple. This is the BM heritage, which could be appropriated in the contemporary context. VERNACULAR-BASED CHURCH Unlike the Methodist for example, the BM had a clearly stated policy of establishing ‘vernacular-based churches’ among the various ethnic groups in Ghana. In fact the BM has credit for being the pioneer in literary work in the vernaculars in Ghana particularly in Twi and Ga. They ephasised the learning of the vernaculars in all Basel Mission schools. Rev. J. Zimmerman translated the Bible into Ga, wrote a Ga bible disctionary and also wrote a Ga grammar and a Ga dictionary.18 The monumental work done by Rev. J.G. Christaller who translated the bible into Akuapen Twi, collected 3000 Twi proverbs and also compiled a Twi dictionary which is still regarded as standard work in Ghana is still outstanding.19 His main aim for collecting the proverbs was to enable the Basel Missionaries have an insight into the Twi language and culture. Here the BM pursued the belief, traceable to Luther and all the early Reformers and Protestant mission, who were convinced that an individual’s mother tongue is the only proper medium for the insight that produces conversion and salvation. The rediscovery of the pivotal role of the vernacular which attended the 16th century Reformation and its subsequent renewal in intellectual and spiritual life and activity in Europe can partly attributed to the European rediscovery and repossession of the Gospel through European vernacular languages. Against this backdrop, Basel Missionaries such as Christaller and Zimmerman with the assistance of their local agents devoted themselves to the study the vernacular and culture of the people in order to understand them better. They concentrated on the Akan and Ga-Adangme ethnic groups 18 Ralph M. Wiltgen: Gold Coast Mission, 1471-1880, Illinois, 1956, p.110. 19 The University of Paris honoured him with medals for his outstanding works, See Basel Mission on the Gold Coast, Report 1900,p.16. 8 which in fact served as a tool for the extension and consolidation of the work of the BM. Thus the emphasis on the use of vernacular became a marked feature of the BM work in Ghana. The mother tongue policy was contrary to the approach of local colonial governments, who wanted the locals to learn European languages, to make sure they would easily adjust to western ways of living. The use of vernacular somehow affirmed the African culture and served as an important step towards the indigenization of the Christian faith in Ghana. Kwame Bediako has asserted and rightly so that: Accordingly, in the African Christianity of the post-missionary era, the extent to which a church can be said to possess a viable heritage of Christian tradition in its indigenous language is the extent of that church´s ability to offer an adequate interpretation of reality and a satisfying intellectual 20 framework for African life. For the PCG, this has meant repossessing the heritage of the BM in order to enhance and develop it.21 The legacy of the vernacular Scripture left behind by the BM in Ghana is a major contributory factor for the massive growth of Christianity in Ghana, particularly among Akan and Gas of Ghana who very early had their vernaculars reduced into writing mainly because they understood the Gospel in their own languages and took it seriously.22 The legacy of the BM in Ghana is therefore a vivid illustration of Kwame Bediako´s observation that: ”African Christianity in the twentieth century, therefore, far from signifying an acute Westernisation of African life, may rather be the evidence of how much African peoples feel at home in the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.23 We shall revisit this point in our discussion of spiritual renewal in the PCG below. The PCG has over the years continued the policy of building vernacular churches. However, while the BM developed the Twi and Ga languages as a clear policy and strategy, later PCG workers have not done enough with other ethnic groups in new mission fields. For instance there has not been enough work done on the translation of the Bible, liturgy books and hymnbooks in newer ethnic groups. It is therefore not surprising that the PCG is seen by some ethnic groups as a ‘foreign church’ and converts of such newer groups sometimes feel marginalized. The PCG has not gone far in its policy of establishing a truly national church which is not just an extension of Twi and Ga ethnic churches. The PCG is gradually abandoning her policy of meeting the language needs of ethnic groups within which it works thereby not pursuing the indigenization legacy of its founding fathers and this has implication for effective evangelization and renewal in new mission fields of the Church. THE EVANGELICAL HERITAGE As it is well known, the BM was first and foremost influenced by a strong German Protestant Pietism, particularly from the state of Wurttemberg, South Germany that produced a bulk of its leadership. Pietism among other things had a strong commitment to the centrality of the Bible in the life of the Christian and the Church; a strong emphasis on the importance of `personal conversion´ to Christ and individual piety; a strong Christian fellowship; a keen sense of prayer and particularly a keen sense of mission and evangelism. 20 Christianity in Africa, p. 61. 21 Ibid. 22 C.f. John Mbiti, Bible and Theology in African Christianity, (Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1986). 23 Ibid. p. 62. 9 This strong Pietistic ethos of the BM in no doubt continue to be revisited by sections of the membership of the PCG who seek spiritual renewal of the Church. The PCG, which stands in historical succession of the BM, inherited a tradition that had a firm belief in the centrality and the authority of the Bible. Its commitment to the Bible is symbolically demonstrated by the large Bible, which is carried in a procession at key functions of the Church. Older members of the church fondly remember the tradition of Friday prayer meetings, Sunday evening Bible studies and Wednesday evening open-air evangelistic preaching which was left by the BM. SIGNIFICANCE OF BM FOR SPIRITUAL RENEWAL IN THE PCG The BM is an example of missionary bodies that operated in Ghana which failed to enter into a meaningful constructive dialogue with traditional Ghanaian cultures and religions. Consequently, most Ghanaian Christians were unable to reconcile their worldview with the type of Christianity that was professed. The result of this is the regular reports by the BM to the effect that converts resorted to traditional religions and consulted traditional priest in times of crises. For instance children were dedicated to the traditional priests as found in the following report ”…They are mostly entangled in the deceitfulness of fetish worship; they make it a point to dedicated their children to the fetish right from conception; they are the ones who plunge their children into evil…”24 In Labadi in Accra for instance the traditional deity for the people of Labadi called La Kpa was held in very high esteem, by the people. The BM for instance worked in Labadi for over 40 years without any convert because of the great influence of this deity on the people there. As a result even those who became Christians were afraid to be baptized at Labadi so they had to be baptized outside Labadi in order to avoid being found out.25 This led Rev. E. Shrenk of BM who worked at Labadi to describe the place as ”chief stronghold of fetishism” and Rev. Robert F. Mante also described the town as ”fortress of the devil and second to none as a fearful fetish town.”.26 The case of Labadi was just one instance of the generalized trend of the stronghold that traditional deities had on the people within their jurisdiction, who were afraid themselves to break away from them because they were not sure Christianity could offer a reliable alternative. Meanwhile they were conscious of the fact that Christianity did not address some of their pressing existential needs such as need for healing and protection from perceived evil forces. Professor K.A. Busia, an eminent Ghanaian sociologist and Methodist lay preacher articulated this concern as follows: Those who have been responsible for the propagation of the Christian gospel in other lands and cultures have not shown sufficient awareness of the need for an encounter between the Christian religion and the cosmology of the peoples outside European culture and traditions. It is this which has made Christianity either alien or superficial or both.27 24 J.G. Widmann, EMM heft 4 (1852) pp.237 and 239 Translated from the German original by courtesy of Dr. J.D.K. Ekem 25 See Labadi Presbyterian Church Centenary brochure, p.7 26 See Labadi Centenary Brochure, ibid 27 K. A. Busia, `Has the Christian faith been adequately represented?` International Review of Mission, 50, (1963) , pp. 86-89 10 The emergence of the African Instituted Churches (AICs) was discerned by scholars as movements that seek to renew African Christianity and make it more relevant to the African context. The AICs seem to have made the logical connection that if African Christians were to abandon their traditional deities then Christianity should be able to answer the questions that their worldview was asking. Thus they made provision for worship in the African style, prayer for healing and exorcism, prayer for protection and made room for gift of the Holy Spirit which are mentioned in the Bible to be manifested in their worship. This caused a major exodus of Christians from the mainline churches including the Presbyterian Church of Ghana to the AICs. There was a major movement in the PCG called the Bible Study and Prayer Group (BSPG) which was convinced about two major facts. In the first place, they felt they did not have to go outside the Presbyterian Church in order to experience the Holy Spirit and to have solution to their problems. They felt there were enough resources in the Bible to enable them meet all those needs just as the AICs were trying to do. Secondary, they recounted instances in the ministry of the BM which pointed to the fact that they devoted themselves to intense prayer which resulted in what they called miraculous and instantaneous results. For instance oral history made references to case of miraculous rains pouring after intense prayer by some agents of BM as a well as recorded history of a BM agent, Edward Sampson raising a dead boy from death by prayer. These two arguments gave members of the BSPG impetus to engage in spiritual renewal programmes similar to that of the AICs and this stemmed the tide of exodus to the AICs to a large extent. The BSPG gives hope for mainline/missionary founded Christianity in Africa in general. Just like the AICs, it uses the Bible to provide answers to issues raised by their worldview. Bediako has rightly observed that: The state of the churches in their relation to the traditional worldview presents a rather paradoxical picture: the churches which have a longer historical connection with the society, and a profound vernacular heritage, appear to be less effective in meeting the spiritual and psychological needs of their members for most of whom the traditional world-view continues as a potent element in their understanding of reality. The explanation for this paradox also lies partly in the failure of churches to avail themselves of their vernacular heritage and to enhance it in the interest of a continuing 28 dialogue with their local cultures” Nevertheless, the BSPG is an exception to this general observation. The movement is noted for its thirst for the Bible and a strong conviction that the Bible is reliable since it is God´s own divinely inspired word. As a result it has a number of Bible study material for the use of members. Their Bible studies normally focus on Bible passages and themes that throw light on matters such as salvation, the Holy Spirit, spiritual warfare, healing, and deliverance. Through their Bible studies and activities, the BSPG has attempted to meet the vital needs of their members. Reading vernacular Bible has enabled them to respond to issues affecting them in their own terms. They have made efforts to appropriate the inherited Christian message and spirituality to suit the Ghanaian primal worldview. They have, therefore, made an effort at the contextualization of Christianity by way of interpreting Christian truth and applying it to real-life issues and religious patterns within the Ghanaian socio-cultural milieu. The BSPG thus has created an avenue that enable participants to express their deepest religious longings within the 28 K. Bediako, Christianity in Africa, p. 68. 11 Presbyterian church of Ghana, hence their appeal. Thus Kwame Bediako discerning the new developments within the mainline churches has noted that The distinctions between the historical churches of missionary origins, and the independents or African instituted churches, have since become less meaningful, as features which were once 29 thought to be characteristic of the latter have been found to be shared also by the former. The BSPG uses mainly vernacular in their meetings, and for that matter they use the vernacular Bible in their studies. It is significant to note that the group is strongest in Akan and Ga-Adangme areas of the PCG. These are areas which has a long tradition of vernacular heritage thus appear to be more effective in engaging the traditional worldview of their members and responding to their spiritual and psychological needs. Areas without long traditions of the vernacular Bible do not usually have strong BSPGs as well as AICs, mainly because they do not have the advantage of the vernacular Bible as basis to be engaged in a serious dialogue with their worldview. CONCLUSION The BM has made a deep impression on Ghanaians. There is no gainsaying the fact that they made immense contribution towards the history, culture and development of Ghana. The BM will always be remembered for its sound foundation it laid for vernacular, academic and vocational education, the impetus it gave to Ghana´s drive towards self-determination, social services, agriculture and trade. However the failure of the BM to sympathize with and to constructively relate to the indigenous beliefs about the spiritual realities that underpin the traditional worldview of Ghanaian cultures within which they worked did not enable them realize the desired results of their labour. Nevertheless, their emphasis on Ghanaian vernacular languages which led to the translation of the Bible into Twi and Ga is the lasting legacy of the BM in Ghana. The BM also left behind a legacy of evangelical spirituality. These two legacies have been the bases for the kind of spiritual renewal that the BSPG seeks Thus they constantly argue that their activities are not extrenous nor exotic by referring to the heritage of the BM as their basis.30 It is therefore not surprising that the PCG was the first mainline church in Ghana to formally recognize a renewal movement-the BSPG within its framework in 1966, because spiritual renewal is part of its heritage. We can therefore say that the BSPG is the product of the BM-and in so doing the PCG is only going back to its Piestistic roots. And its Reformed maxim: Reformata Semper Reformanda – ”the Church is renewed and shall always be renewed” The fact is, church history abounds with renewal movements that end up breaking away sometimes I think such schisms are inevitable, but I also believe most of these breakaways are unnecessary and have rather been the bane or scandal for mission in our part of the world. The famous mission historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette, believes that the Holy Spirit propels church history by ever causing renewals, which in turn ever introduce new organizations.31 These new organizations 29 Ibid., p.66 30 It must be pointed out however that the spirituality of the BM-which is more Evangelical is different from that of the BSPG which combines Evangelicalism with Pentecostal/Charismatic spirituality. It is noteworthy though that in Africa one can hardly dichotomize Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. 31 K.S. Latourette, History and the Expansion of Christianity, 7 vols. (Grand Rapid: Zondervan 1970). 12 provide resources to the church in different contexts, to enable it to adapt to cultural, religious, and social challenges. The renewal groups must be seen in this light hence their relevance.
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