A HISTORY OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH IN GHANA
The Pentecostal movement in Ghana, as it was in other parts of the world, had a very humble beginning, operating initially on the fringes of society mainly. Nevertheless, it was an authentic move by the Holy Spirit to restore to the Church in Ghana an ignored dimension of Christian theology. This is the theology which includes God in human history and in the affairs of individuals and nations; a theology which makes the Jesus who lived and performed signs and wonders in biblical times the same person who lives today to perform the same signs by the power of the Holy Spirit through His Body which is the Church.
Pentecostalism has since its inception in Ghana in the early 1930s, through the pioneering work of Prophet William Wade Harris of Liberia and his disciples, and earlier in some other parts of Africa had such a profound influence on Christianity on the continent, to the extent that its 'charismatic' derivative has been described in academic circles as one of the most significant expressions of Christianity in Africa.
This significance is in Pentecostalism's attempt to respond to the existential needs of the African worldview by providing a personal encounter with God through the power of the Spirit, healing of diseases and deliverance from evil in all its manifestations. Pentecostalism became in the early days and even now, Africa's response to the Christian faith introduced to Africa by Western Europeans. In Pentecostalism, Africa found expression for the Christian faith in molds which were consistent with African culture; molds which took the African worldview into serious consideration for relevance.
The history of Pentecostalism in Ghana including its impact on the socio- cultural and politico-economic life of the nation have began to be chronicled by scholars such as Prof. Kingsley Larbi, Susan Hansen, Dr. Asamoah Gyadu, Dr. Paul Gifford, to mention only a few. It is refreshing to have eyewitnesses to many of the events adding their contributions to enrich the discourse and especially, to straighten up some of the rough edges.
The team of pastors from The Apostolic Church of Ghana who were directly involved in many of the events recounted in this work have done the movement and the Christian community a great deal of good by leaving, as a legacy, the history of the Pentecostal movement from their eye-witness angle, correcting some impressions which have gained credence for a long time.
So insightful, for instance, is the revelation that the General Council of The Apostolic Church in Britain did not dismiss Pastor McKeown as a result of the visit of Dr. Wyatt of the Latter Rain Movement but that by refusing to sign the affirmation of the belief in the tenets of the Church, Pastor McKeown willingly dissociated himself from The Apostolic Church, probably counting on the support of the Ghanaian Council which had been pledged at earlier meeting at
This erroneous impression was, incidentally, the basis for the hasty decision by the Ghanaian Church to secede from the mother Church in Britain in supportof Pastor Mckeown’s purported wrongful dismissal, a prospect which Pastor McKeown may have privately harboured.
Another fact, which many followers of Pentecostal history may find interesting to discover, is the knowledge which is brought out in this work, that PastorMcKeown, though the first resident missionary of The Apostolic Church to the Gold Coast was assisted by many other missionaries from Britain, none of whom supported his autonomy or secessionist idea.
The Church of Pentecost which eventually became the other protagonist in the conflict on the side of Pastor McKeown has since her re-designation moved in the spirit of the Apostolic Movement to become a great force to reckon with on the Christian scene in Ghana.
Kwabena J. Darkwa Amanor (ThD)
International Theological Seminary
The Apostolic Church, Ghana, was certainly the main vehicle used by the Holy Spirit to pioneer the spread of Pentecostalism in Ghana.
Earlier writers on the development of the Pentecostal movement in the country touched on the role of The Apostolic Church but not inappreciable detail. This book is to narrate the story from the horse’s own mouth to set the records straight.
Truth may often not be palatable, especially, when it reveals some of our human failings but the purpose of truth is not only to make us repent and learn to do better but also to serve as aguide to others and posterity. The Bible lays bare the truth about every person or thing but it is remarkable to note that in spite of our human failings, God moves on to build His Church and will still work mysteriously through our weaknesses to let His purposes prevail. He will indeed build His Church and the gates of .hell shall not prevail against it.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a hydra-headed creature which cannot be killed but will rather replicate itself into many more entities at every stroke, of persecution or attack-by the forces of evil.
Members who saw the beginnings of The Apostolic Church in Ghana do marvel at what stupendous work God has done over the years. The late Prophet M. K. Yeboah of the Church of Pentecost spoke of The Apostolic Church, the Christ Apostolic Church and the Church of Pentecost as sisters from the same womb. They are offshoots of the work of the Holy Spirit
from which numerous other Churches have sprung up to cover almost every territory of Ghana
Pastor Peter Newman Anim, who founded the Christ Apostolic Church, in his last days, had wished the three churches unite into one big organization, hence, together with the Assemblies of God Church, the Ghana Pentecostal Council which now embraces almost all Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches in the Country was formed.
There are some 900 branches of The Apostolic Church in Ghana and each Church would wish to read their individual history in this book, but that would be too voluminous for the general reader who would only wish to know what really happened since 1935 when missionaries of The Apostolic Church set their foot in the Gold Coast at the invitation of the Asamankese prayer group led by Mr. Peter Newman Anim. The book, however, covers when and how the pioneer churches were established.
The History Committee of The Apostolic Church comprising Pastor James Ghartey (Chairman) Pastor P. T. Otchie (Secretary) Pastor H. P. Anaman (Member) Pastor E. A. Ayisi (Member) and Elder D. D. Lartey (Member) wish to thank God for giving us the strength, wisdom and knowledge to write this book.
We hereby acknowledge with much thanks to Dr. K. J. D. Amanor of ITS who read through the manuscript and made several suggestions to the Committee. We are also grateful to the President, the Vice President and the General Secretary of The Apostolic Church for their patience, encouragement and the support they gave us to make our work possible. We have to thank Media Associates for their tireless efforts in typing the scripts over and over again to get it ready for printing.
In moments of spiritual and theological decline in the Church, God has in history, raised up faithful remnants of men and women whose desire for change and dedication in prayer has birthed revivals. These revivals have been periods of heightened spiritual awakenings in the church, which have subsequently affected even the world outside the church.One such periods was the Welsh revival of 1904-05, a period in which over one hundred thousand people were led into the kingdom of God. Speaking in tongues, prophecy, among other spiritual manifestations were experienced during and after the revival. People who vowed not to put out the Spirit’s fire after these revivals formed groups, and one of such groups that met in a house in Penygroes Llanelli opened a building called “The Evangelical Church.”
It was around the days of the revival, specifically on the 25th December 1904 that a miner by name Daniel Powell Williams (1882-1947) got converted under the ministry of the revivalist Evans Roberts. Mr. D P Williams was baptised in the Holy Spirit in 1909 and joined the Evangelical Church a year later in 1910. D.P Williams followed on after his water baptism with a visit to Pastor W. O. Hutchinson’s Mission Hall in Bournemouth in the company of a friend. The Spirit of the Lord through a prophecy given at Emmanuel Mission Hall in 1910 instructed Pastor W.O. Hutchinson and one Mr. J. Dennis to go and anoint “the Lord’s Servant” at a farm where a number of people had gather in Penygroes. These two were prompted by the Spirit to go and pray for a sick child along with Mr. D.P. Williams. During the moment of prayer, God spoke through the lips of Mr. J. Dennis in a prophecy, naming Daniel Powell Williams as the “shepherd of His people.” This prophecy came in to confirm that which had already been prophesied in Bournemouth. Thus, the Bournemouth prophecy was read to those present and Mr. D.P. Williams was ordained. Majority of the members of the Evangelical Church were not in support of the ordination. However, God miraculously reaffirmed His choice of Mr. D. P. Williams to be leader of the group through another prophecy, and this was eventually accepted. This event occurred in the year 1911. In the month of May, 1911, the assembly in Bournemouth where Mr. D. P. Williams was now presiding over was described as “The Apostolic Faith Church” in a magazine, and The Apostolic Faith as was affectionately known was the first Pentecostal church in Great Britain.
Between the periods of 31st July to 3rd August 1915, the seventh major conference of the Apostolic Faith Church was held in Bournemouth. The Spirit of God was very much present and after a word of prophecy stating that “bring your treasure to the Apostles feet”, a cash amount of over £3,000 sterling was received as offerings. Upon receipt of this money, Pastor D. P. Williams proposed that a committee of seven men should be put in charge of the offering to ensure its judicious use. This proposal was flatly refused by Pastor W.O. Hutchinson stating that the money was his to keep and use as he pleased. This stirred no small misunderstanding between the two most influential figures in the church. The ramifications of that misunderstanding led to the convening of an urgent meeting of church leaders on 8th January, 1916 at Ammanford, South Wales. In that meeting, Pastor D. P. Williams asked for all those who no longer accepted the authority of Pastor W.O. Hutchinson to stand with him and leave the meeting. As a result, representatives of only three of the churches in Wales stayed on in The Apostolic Faith. The remaining six (6) churches in Scotland, eleven (11) churches in England, and ten (10) churches in Wales went with Pastor D.P. Williams to form The Apostolic Church headquarteres in Penygroes, South Wales.
Called to share in the five-fold ministry in the Body of Christ was his brother William Jones Williams. The calling of these two brothers into the ministry of Apostle and Prophet respectively, together with others who were later called into other ministries, emphasized the believe in this movement, of the restoration of the New Testament’s five-fold ministry in the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom and in the rest of the world.
Just within six years, a missionary council was established comprising a 7 member committee under the chairmanship of Pastor D. P. Williams. In 1922, a meeting was held in the city Bradford in Yorkshire in the north of England to consider how to fulfil the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19). Out of this meeting, the vision of “BELTING THE GLOBE WITH THE GOSPEL” was birthed. The vessels who availed themselves to be used of God to establish this movement were not men of stupendous academic learning and their lives bear semblance with what is said to be how God polishes a man for His holy purposes.
Upon receiving from the Lord in the 1922 meeting, missionaries were being sent where needs and the Holy Spirit was indicating. The God, who was responsible for the stirring of hearts of the 120 people in the upper room when the day of Pentecost was fully come in Jerusalem, was the same God responsible for the stirring of hearts of the household of Cornelius in Caesarea. Just as God in His infiniteness kicked against what was culturally and traditionally prohibited by granting the household of Cornelius who were gentiles, the same experience the followers of Jesus had in Jerusalem. He again did the unbelievable by stirring the spiritual hungers of men and women in a land where the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ was never heard. After many years of missionary activities in the Gold Coast, there arose in the country, between 1920 and 1930 a hunger and a thirst for deeper spiritual experiences in the Christian lives of many. This hunger and thirst caused many who had committed their heart to Jesus to seek for spiritual guidance by writing for Christian literature from various Christian missions abroad. Amidst this group, stood a charismatic figure whose legacy will long be told to many generations for his significant contribution to the spread of Pentecostalism in the Gold Coast, this figure was Peter Anim.
Peter Newman Anim formerly known as Kweku Anim Mensah (also known as Kweku Manasseh) was born to Mr. Simon Appiagyei and Madam Hannah Lartebea of Boso in the Volta Region of Ghana on 4th February 1890. Born a Presbyterian, Peter Anim’s quest for deeper spiritual experiences led him to establish contact, through correspondence, with an American-based Christian group known as the Faith Tabernacle in 1917. Anim took an interest in the religious periodical, The Sword of the Spirit, which was in circulation in the country. Pastor A. Clark, who happened to be the founder of the Faith Tabernacle in Philadelphia was the editor to that periodical. Faith Tabernacle had a very strong emphasis on faith and holiness. Anim had as a long standing “thorn in his flesh”, a chronic stomach ulcer. After contracting the guinea worm disease in 1921, he resolved to put into practice the teachings on healing from the Faith Tabernacle. It was a quantum leap in his faith when he realised he was completely made whole. Anim decided to move in to settle at Asamankese. His decision to relocate from Anum Boso to Asamankese was not initially for spiritual reasons. Many settler farmers in Asamankese were from Anum Boso and he had perhaps also joined his people in Asamankese for a similar purpose. Anim while still at Asamankese had formed a Christian group and now at Anum Boso was enjoying astronomical growth in numbers by dint of several sick people being healed and the news spreading to all and sundry. Being convinced of the truth of the teachings of Clark and his church, Anim adopted the name Faith Tabernacle for his group in 1922.
The emphasis of the Faith Tabernacle were; personal holiness, persecution as a mark of sanctity, wrongfulness of litigation, belief in the imminence of the millennium, non-participation in national celebrations, a distaste for acquiring property because of the imminence of the second advent, glossolalia experiences regarded as satanic, contrast between the wickedness of this world and the godly community of the sect, and finally the famous non-use of medicine which was affectionately regarded locally as “kyiri bentoa”.
In 1926, something happened that toppled Anim’s trust in the organisation his local organisation was affiliated to. It had been alleged that Pastor Clark was excommunicated for adultery. Anim later on, through another correspondence, got in touch with another Christian group known as the Apostolic Faith based in Portland, Oregon, USA. This group was Pentecostal and emphasized the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. Anim drew the attention of a leading member of the Faith Tabernacle stationed in Accra that the teaching about the Holy Spirit was correctly in consonance with the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2, but the Faith Tabernacle sect believed rather in the cessation of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit through His various gifts in the church. Anim and his group however started fasting and praying as they were directed to do by the Apostolic Faith for the Pentecostal experience of Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues. After carefully analysing the teachings on the Holy Spirit in the magazine, Anim found them compelling enough and also scripturally sound to be embraced. However, not all of Anim’s people accepted the teachings but that did not succeed in jettisoning Anim’s careful consideration of the teachings from The Apostolic Faith.
The group’s faith in prayer and fasting were rewarded with the baptism of the Holy Spirit as they had expected. One member of the group by name Stephen Owiredu went to his village at Brekumanso, near Asamankese and found one of his twin babies sick. As one who believed in divine healing, he took his sick child to a nearby bush to pray for the child’s healing. While praying aloud, he experienced his tongue changing and heard himself speaking in an unknown tongue. Upon hearing this news at Asamankese, Anim and two brothers, Danso and Abokyi, and two other sisters, Comfort Nyarkoah and Oparebea went to Brekumanso where a prayer meeting was organised during which two sons of Owiredu and the two sisters who accompanied Anim received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They hailed the phenomenon as a wonderful visitation of the Holy Spirit and a great breakthrough for the group. For days and weeks, they fasted and prayed and more of them were baptized with the Holy Spirit. It is at this time that the famous “ball of fire” was reported to have been seen on the roof of the chapel in which they were engaged in prayer. The chapel is there to this day at Asamankese.The news of the phenomenon of speaking in tongues at Asamankese spread like wild fires to the members of the group outside Asamankese. From various other places, members began to troop to Asamankese to seek the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The most interesting one was the journey of elder Kwadwo Duku who traversed the over 267 km from Atonsu near Kumasi to Asamankese, to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit which was graciously granted him. He was followed by more members from Kumasi all of whose desires for Spirit baptism were satisfied at Asamankese. Anim was however not among the people to first receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. His occurred later on as they continued to fast and pray. All these experiences which hitherto were only a biblical account which Anim read and was now seeing them in reality emboldened him to move his group to get affiliated to The Apostolic Faith. To avoid the emotional excesses, which accompanied the behaviour of the newly Spirit baptized members, Peter Anim wisely realized the need for counsel and guidance since “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor.14:33). The leaders then agreed and wrote a letter to request of Pastor George Perfect, the then Superintendent Missionary sent from Bradford to be in charge of the Nigeria work, and Pastor Odubanjo, who was the national leader of that country for advice on those matters. This step was an attempt by Pastor Anim and some of the leading members of the church to seek information and knowledge about the function of the Holy Spirit in order to address some irregularities that went on in many of the stations and to prevent future occurrences of such experiences.
In response to that request, copies of a book titled, prophetical Ministry and authored by Pastor D.P. Williams, the founder and the first president of the Church worldwide, General Headquarters, Pennygross, U.K. were sent to the leaders in Ghana, by the teachings of that book the situation was put under and divine order was established. Then on the mandate of the Missionary Board of the church in Bradford, England, Pastor George Perfect came to Ghana, then the Gold Coast in 1635 and met the brethren as did Paul to those disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus (Acts 191-7). He held special seminar with them for two weeks and studied the doctrinal statements and practices, which are the 11 tenets, the 8 rules of belief and 8 rules of conduct of the Apostolic Church, very thoroughly. Then upon their confession, acceptance, declaration and affirmation to those Fundamental Statements, he received them officially into the membership of the Worldwide Body of the Apostolic Church to establish the Gold Coast, now Ghana branch.
During this time his stay at Asamankese, he demonstrated the power of God by casting out demons and healing the sick by fasting and prayers in the Name of Jesus Christ. He had also taught sound principles of how to deal with those who are possessed with various kinds of demons, to cast out the demon only and how to control and prevent those demons from returning to the victim or possessing another person.
Anim, therefore, requested for a resident missionary from the America-based Apostolic Faith Church. In response to his request, the Apostolic Faith directed that since they had, at that time, not organized any missionary service, he should contact The Apostolic Church in the United Kingdom which had a well-established Missionary Movement with headquarters at Bradford, England for assistance. This advice from the Apostolic faith Church was corroborated by Pastor Odubanjo of Nigeria who had earlier applied for a missionary from The Apostolic Church in Britain. Anim quickly applied and was informed that a Missionary delegation was being sent to Nigeria through Accra and would be available for a meeting with him in Accra. It was not until 1931 that three leading men from The Apostolic Church headquartered in Penygroes arrived at the Accra Port en route to Nigeria on 21 September 1931. Peter Anim accompanied by Godfred Asare and Alex Ankama, met the missionary delegation comprising Apostle Daniel Powell Williams, and Prophets William Jones Williams and Andrew Turnbull at the Accra Port at James Town and later joined them to Lagos, arriving there on the 23rd September 1931. In Lagos, Anim and his colleagues from Ghana were greatly blessed by the series of revival meetings and the sound Bible teachings that they received from The Apostolic ministers. As a result, they also applied for a similar visit of a missionary delegation from the United Kingdom to their group in Asamankese.
The Missionary Committee of The Apostolic Church, UK, decided that Pastor George Perfect who was stationed in Nigeria should visit Ghana. In 1935, notwithstanding the opposition that was being mounted on Anim from Aperade and Pampanso assemblies against the motion, he succeeded in getting Pastor George Perfect to visit Asamankese on his way to Britain. He stayed with the group for 14 days and carried them through the tenets and doctrines of The Apostolic Church. Anim and his group embraced the teachings of The Apostolic Church and went ahead to get affiliated with the church. As a result, the name of his group was changed from Apostolic Faith Church to the newly adopted one, The Apostolic Church. Missionary George Perfect then ordained Brother P. N. Anim, as leader and first Apostolic pastor of the first Apostolic Church of Ghana under the guidance of The Apostolic Church of the United Kingdom.In 1936, Pastor Vivian Wellings, then the Missionary secretary of The Apostolic Church in Britain visited The Apostolic Church in Ghana at Asamankese. He found out during his visit that there was the need for a resident missionary for The Apostolic Church in Ghana. On his return to Bradford therefore, he strongly recommended that a resident missionary should be sent to Asamankese to nurture the fledgling Church in Ghana
CONSOLIDATION OF RELATIONSHIP WITH BRADFORD
The decision to sending a resident pastor to the gold coast was informed by a good report and recommendation given by Pastor Vivian Wellings, the secretary of the missionary board of the Apostolic Church in the U.K. The intention was to help build up the vision of the Holy Spirit work which has briskly began in Ghana. To this end in pursuit of this vision, Pastor James Mckeown, an Irish who was then one of the ministers of the Apostolic Church in Glassgow, Scotland, was picked, interviewed and sent out to be the first resident missionary of the Apostolic Church in the gold coast. He was met on arrival by Pastor P.N. Anim, Quacoo of Korley Gono, and Elder Ben Otoo Ayeboafo and picked to Asamankese and accommodated at Mr. Anyan’s house. He was accorded a hearthly welcome by huge crowd of members that gathered at Asamankese as a seal to the fact that the objective for which the baptism of the Holy Spirit was asked, sought and knocked for has been achieved and THE CHURCH to carry out that objective forward is duly established as follows:
The Apostolic Church in the Gold Coast Missionary Headquartters, Bradford, England U.K...
Resident Missionary, Pastor James Mckeown, Field Suprintendent.
National Leader, Pastor Peter Anim, first native ordained into Apostolic Church in Ghana, then Gold Coast.
Native Minister not yet ordained, Pastor Nathan Danso, Emmanuel Kwasi Okanta, Quacoo and others.
Stations: Asamankese, Akroso, Abisim, Huhunya, Korley Gono, Suhum Kroboa Coaltar, Nusakyini, Kumasi Atonsu, Saltpond, Winneba and others.