Quadrennial Council in Bradford and Pastor McKeown’s Dissociation
In May 1953, Pastor James McKeown attended the Quadrennial Council of The Apostolic Church in Bradford. The meeting started on 2nd May 1953, with 54 Apostles and Prophets present. The Latter Rain Movement was discussed at length and after several reports from other parts of the world had been heard, it was discovered that the Latter Rain Movement abused the privileges granted them by The Apostolic Church by publicly and privately condemning the church government system adopted by The Apostolic Church. Dr Wyatt was also accused of speaking against The Apostolic Church system of paying its field workers, a criticism which was fomenting ill will and disaffection in the Church.
The Council decided that all participants should re-affirm their faith and belief in the doctrines and practices of The Apostolic Church as follows:
“I AFFIRM MY BELIEF IN THE TENETS OF THE CHURCH WHICH INVOLVES CHURCH GOVERNMENT IN ITS PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES AS EMBODIED IN THE CONSTITUTION SUBJECT TO THE AMENDMENT TO OUR PRACTICES WHICH HAVE ALREADY BEEN MADE AND MAY YET BE MADE IN THE COUNCIL OF APOSTLES AND PROPHETS AS LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD FROM TIME TO TIME.”
All the Apostles and Prophets present, with exception of Pastor James McKeown and Cecil Cousen signed the affirmation.By their refusal to assign the affirmation, Pastors James McKeown and Pastor Cecil Cousen disassociated themselves from what the Apostles and Prophets of The Apostolic Church had all agreed upon in principle. Pastor James Mckeown and Cecil Cousen then left the council, and in the evening of that day 7th May 1953, they asked the president to announce in the service held at Great Horton that they were no longer members nor ministers of The Apostolic Church. They also handed over their ordination certificates to the president.
A letter which Pastor McKeown himself wrote on the 12th May 1953 to Pastor Albert Seaborne at Hohoe revealed the position taken by the two dissenting pastors. The letter read as follows:
Pastor A. Seaborne
I am sure by this time you will have learned both from official and unofficial sources that there was a show down in Council on The Apostolic Church interpretation of the Latter Rain and the Latter Rain interpretation of The Apostolic Church with the result that Pastor Cecil Cousen and I had to hand over our ordination certificates and from that moment we were no longer ministers in the church. This will have far reaching effects on the Gold Coast. We left the Council in the spirit of the Master and we will walk in that spirit. Nevertheless the decision reached places us in opposite camps, and will affect the Gold Coast. It now remains to be seen (whether Missionary or African Pastor) who will stand by the declaration we made in October Council at Dunkwa.
Ever yours in the bond of His love,
James and Phia.
One can deduce from Pastor Mckeown’s letter that long before the arrival of the team from America, a meeting was held in October 1952 at Dunkwa in which Pastor James Mckeown informed the Ghanaian council of Bradford’s strong disapproval and possible sanction against the impending visit of the Latter Rain to Ghana. At that meeting there was a declaration to support Pastor James Mckeown, if it even meant breaking away from the parent church , hence the clause, “it now remains to be seen (whether missionary or African Pastor) who will stand by the declaration made in the October council at Dunkwa”.
The cardinal issue, which was to have serious repercussions on the church in Ghana, was whether Pastor McKeown was dismissed or he dissociated himself from The Apostolic Church in Britain.
Local Pastor’s Response and Secession from Bradford
Pastor J. A. C. Anaman, the Acting Chairman in the absence of Pastor McKeown called a general meeting of the African Pastors and Genral Deacons on 21st May 1953 at which, Pastor James McKeown’s “dismissal” in the UK was discussed. The very item on the Agenda took a prejudiced position on the matter to be discussed i.e. “The dismissal of Pastor McKeown”. It would be recalled that at the meeting at Dunkwa in 1950, the African Pastors pledged to stand by McKeown if he were dismissed. If they read the letter sent to him by Pastor McKewon himself, they would have realized that by refusing to sign the affirmation, Pastor McKeown disassociated himself from the Council of Apostles and Prophets of the Church. Pastor Anaman, the Acting Chairman realized this fact too late when he had led his colleague Pastors in Ghana to pass a devastating resolution, which rent the Church in two.
He dwelt on the word “dismissal” and led his African Pastors to send a resolution which read as follows:
RESOLUTION OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH (GOLD COAST) COUNCIL
We the African ministers and the General Deacons of The Apostolic Church (Gold Coast) have considered carefully the news which reached us from the United Kingdom concerning our superintendent James Mckeown.
We understand that Pastor James Mckeown has been dismissed by the General Council, because of his refusal to relinquish certain teachings brought to us recently by a team called the Latter Rains Team, and consequently, his refusal to reaffirm unreserved allegiance and obedience to the Council and the practices of the British Isle.
We also understand that the home council was helped in its decision which resulted in the dismissal our dear superintendent by many adverse and conflicting reports; received by them from West Africa particularly Nigeria.
Since the team left us, we have been carrying on as before but with greater power, zeal, knowledge and liberty. We have not thrown away any of our working arrangement nor have we turned our back on the eleven fundamental tenets propagated by The Apostolic Missionary movement; something has definitely been added to us.
We deeply deplore the rejection of Latter Rain teachings so called, by the home council, but what we heard and saw when the team was present with us found a response in our spirits and we found nothing contrary to the written word of God, we entered in wholeheartedly and God greatly blessed us.
Accordingly it is hereby resolved that despite the dismissal of our Superintendent James McKeown by the Home Council, we unanimously decide to ask him to return to the Gold Coast as our Superintendent and continue with us a before.
That whilst appreciating the sacrifice made by The Apostolic Missionary Movement in the United Kingdom in the former years in sending us Missionaries from time to time we unanimously decide to withdraw our connection with the Home Committee and Council henceforth and ask them not to send any missionaries to us in the future and to withdraw those at present on the field.
That we shall not entertain any delegation sent to us by the Home Council. Copies of this Resolution were to be sent to:
The Missionary Committee, Bradford, England
Superintendent Pastor James McKeown
Missionaries Albert Seaborne and S. M. Hammond, Hohoe and Saltpond respectively.
Pastor Albert Seaborne refused to sign the Resolution and openly disassociated himself from the secession from The Apostolic Church Britain. Pastor S. M. Hammond wrote to say that he had no objection to the decision taken by The Ghanaian Council. But he resigned and went back to Britain.
This action of the African ministers was strange to the missionary board.Because, following Pastor James Mckeown’s resignation and the settlements of his benefits the board had not as yet communicated any information to the field in Ghana. Rather, they were praying and considering the next superintendent to be appointed for Ghana. So on the receipt of such a resolution, the missionary secretary replied immediately to clarify the true positions of affairs concerning Pastor James Mckeown, and pointed out that the allegation on which the resolution was based was incorrect. He therefore beseeched the ministers to be wise to meet a delegation sent out by the council to the Gold Coast on the matter. But Pastor Anaman wrote back to the misioanry secretary saying “the decision of the Gold Coast Council embodied in the resolution was irrevocable”. He further indicated that there was no need to meet with representatives of the missionary council on the matter.
Circular Letter Announcing Pastor McKeown’s Dismissal
After the Resolution had been sent to Britain, Pastor Anaman wrote a circular letter to all Assemblies of the Church in Ghana informing members as follows:
News has come to hand from England that The Apostolic Church Council in Bradford has decided to reject many teachings brought to us by the Latter Rain Team when they visited us in January and February last. They have also taken measures to prevent the Latter Rain Team from visiting us in the future – under their auspices. Furthermore, they have laid down that any minister paid by The Apostolic Church in the British Isles must either put aside the Latter Rain teachings or accepted dismissal.
Our Superintendent, Pastor James McKeown has accepted dismissal by them rather than to give up the precious things we all received and enjoyed and are still enjoying today. We, the recognized governing body of The Apostolic Church (Gold Coast) have whole heartedly and unanimously decided to take our stand by the side of our Superintendent for we are not prepared to go back on the blessings and liberty which we have been enjoying since we heard of the Latter Rain.
Therefore, it has been unanimously decided that from henceforth, we in the Gold Coast will carry on our own affairs independent of The Apostolic Church Missionary Movement in Bradford. Our Superintendent who is on furlough at present enjoying a well-deserved rest will return and not sent to us by Bradford.
He has kept in close touch with us by cable and air letters throughout our business and we are completely one in our decisions.
There will be no change in our methods. We are all going to be Apostolics, even more Apostolic than what we have been before. So everyone should carry on as usual.
This letter, however, set some members wondering why there should be that hasty decision to break the Church in Ghana from its parent body.
Rumours, therefore, went through the church that the Pastors had surrendered the church to the Latter Rain Movement. It would be recalled that similar rumours went round in the church soon after the visit of the Americans, and Pastor McKeown wrote a letter to allay the fears of members about the Latter Rain. Pastor Anaman’s letter therefore rekindled the rumours but the majority of members were prepared to go with the independence idea because that was the spirit at that time when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was agitating for “Emancipation of the Gold Coast from colonial rule”
The leadership of the church in Ghana, including Pastor McKeown, while working towards secession from the mother church in the UK, was trying at the same time to convince the members of the church that they were still Apostolic. This strategy was obviously aimed at keeping the membership together for secession.
A delegation from Bradford to help resolve the Impasse
Meanwhile, the Missionary Secretary of Bradford on receipt of the resolution from Ghana replied immediately to point out that the allegation upon which the resolution was based was incorrect.
He therefore beseeched the Ghanaian Council “to be wise to meet a delegation being sent out by the UK Council to Ghana on the matter”
Pastor Anaman, however, wrote back to say that the resolution was irrevocable and that, there was no need for them meeting with a delegation of the UK Missionary Committee on the matter.
Bradford, however, delegated the Missionary Secretary, Pastor Vivian Wellings and Pastor and Pastor C. Rosser of the Church in Nigeria to come and meet the Ghanian leadership to explain to them what really happened at the Quadrennial Council.
On the 22nd of May 1953, the Ghanaian Ministers met to consider ways and means of informing members of the church of the change that was taking place. Apparently, there was some fear that a change of the name “Apostolic Church” might create misunderstandings in the minds of the rank and file of the church’s members. Already, rumours were making the rounds suggesting that Pastor McKeown was misleading the African Pastors to break the church away from the mother church.
Names were suggested for adoption for the church included “African Apostolic Church,” “New Day Apostolic Church” and others which were rejected. Brother Alex Bonsu’s suggestion of “Gold Coast Apostolic Church” was eventually adopted. A new Bank Account was opened for The Gold Coast Apostolic Church and it was further decided that all Official letterheads, Baptsimal and Dedication certificates should bear the new name.
When the secessionist heard that an entry permit had been granted the Bradford delegation to come to Ghana, a long letter was written to all Pastors and General Deacons by the Acting Chairman, a portion of which read:
I believe they will by all means try to put us in the old position as we were. But let us remember that when once a chicken is out of an egg, it is against the law of nature to put it back into it again. The important thing to do when the delegates come is definitely refusing to have any interview with them. When we do that a greater part of the victory is gained.”
This Pastoral letter issued by Pastor Anaman to all assemblies of the Church was obviously written to implement the resolution passed at Dunkwa-on-Offin in 1950 by which the Afican Pastors and General Deacons had pledged their loyalty and support to Pastor McKeown in the event of his dismissal by the Missionary Committee in connection with the visit of Dr. Thomas Wyatt and his friends to the Church in Ghana.
Some signatories of the resolution, however, harbored reservations which they later boldly expressed by joining Pastor Seaborne who had openly opposed the motives behind the resolution which he sensed to be hypocritical and calculated to break the church in Ghana away from Britain. Those who disagreed with secession were Pastor D. K. Boateng, Nyarko Jones, Mante Adu, A. K. Yaw, J. K. Wilson and M. E. Kesse. Others were Pastor Adu Pare who had been appointed as the National Evangelist to succeed and the late Pastor Hayford and General Deacon J. E. Smith. These Pastors and their assemblies thwarted the determination and all out efforts being taken to completely sever relations with the church in Britain.
In a meeting held on 8th June 1953, a new executive council of the secessionist decided that Pastor Seaborne be asked to inform the Missionary Committee to recall him back to Britain as soon as possible. He was meanwhile “to refrain from taking the chair in all church meetings in the Gold Coast and Trans-Volta”. Pastor Seaborne had written to tell the Ghanaian Council that the resolution sent to the Missionary Committee and taken was one-sided. He had seen more wonderful things than what the Latter Rain did on their visit. He had, therefore, taken his stand with Bradford. Pastor Seaborne, a very unassuming and calm person here revealed the moral giant he was and stood tallest above all the Pastors in denouncing what he found to be wrong. For this cause Pastor Seaborne fought as a faithful Christian and died in Ghana.
Moves against Secession by the Adangbe Zone
On the 27th June 1953 at Tarkwa, Pastor S.W. Duffour, one of the signatories to the resolution to secede themselves from the parent body in Bradford revealed some secret plans and strategies to brother Tenobi concerning their plots to bury the testimony of The Apostolic Church, Missionary headquarters, Bradford in the Gold Coast for the Latter Rain Missions, which was described by the secessionist as “Higher Revelation” to reign. Brother Tenobi, who was a member of the church and an employee of a timber firm at Akim Oda, dissatisfied with information he received from his friend Pastor Dufour about the changes taking place in the church, immediately wrote to Bradford on 29th June 1953 pledging his support for the Apostolic Church in Ghana. From that day he was referred to as a traitor to the secession and the only member and officer that Bradford had in the Gold Coast.He was mocked and ridiculed and even molested in some assemblies and described as the devil’s agent whom nobody should entertain or discuss matters with in a circular letter signed by Pastor J.A.C. Anaman to the assemblies all over the country.
At the church in sekondi where the author was invited by elders and members that stood for the original Faith to minister, one passenger lorry filed to capacity with members of the seceded regime, led by elders Simons arrived. They rushed into the church and snatched away the chair on which he sat for him to fall. They then surrounded him, rebuked him, and called for the police to come for him and put him behind bars together with elders Kwamena Kuma and Ansah . After his release from police custody, he travelled to Somanya to mobilize support for the mother church. Together with Brothers S. R. Ocansey of Otrokpe and A. Ofori-Addo, a transport owner, all assemblies in the Adangbe area were stirred up against secession. The three brothers agreed to arrange for Pastor Seaborne to be transferred from Hohoe in the Volta Region to stay at Somanya where living accommodation had been secured for him by brother Ocansey. Brother Ofori Addo went with his own truck to bring Pastor Seaborne and his wife to Somanya on the 1st of September 1953.
A delegation of the church from Britain had been refused entry because the secessionist refused to receive them. A cable was sent to Nigeria where they went requesting them to proceed to Ghana. Brother Tenobi was sent to Accra to arrange for entry permit with the Immigration Authorities, for the British delegation to come to Ghana. On the 5th of September 1953, the British delegation comprising Pastor V. Wellings and Cyril Rosser arrived in Accra. The secessionists refused to meet them with the excuse that they would only do so when Pastor McKewon arrived from Britain. A letter was again circulated to all assemblies of the church not to receive the delegates.
At Akim Oda, the district Pastor Mante Adu did everything to prevent brother Tenobi from enlightening the members about the changes, even to the extent that he instructed some men to beat up brother Tenobi if he continues to speak about the Latter Rain in the church. Pastor Mante Adu made the church members to understand that the name Gold Coast Apostolic Church and The Apostolic Church Gold Coast was just like saying, superintendent of police and police superintendent, Agriculture department and department of agriculture, one and the same thing. For that matter, Tenobi should not be taken serious. When Tenobi was made aware on what judgement had been passed on him, he contacted Pastor A. Seaborne at Hohoe, Volta Region for consultation on what to do. Brother Tenobi coincidentally met with brothers R.S.A. Ocansey of Otropkpe and A. Ofori Addo of Somanya at Asesewa market on Monday 10th August 1953. It was at this appoint that he with the copies of the resolution and the secret plans, briefed the duo on the changes that had taken place. In one accord they chose Somanya to be the headquarters for the original church. Brother Ocansey did a very good work to get the brethren in krobo area such as Kofi Asra and Chicha Kwao of Kakama, Kwasi fio Adjirako of Huhunya, Narh Ababio of Sekesua and others informed about the situation and they all took their stand for the original faith.
Brothers Tenobi and Ofori Addo travelled extensively and succeeded in wining back some of the assemblies. It became necessary also for the Missionary Delegation to travel to most of the towns and districts where letters had come to invite them.
On the 31st August 1953, elder J.S. Larnor, Ofori Addo’s senior brother, was sent with a special lorry to Hohoe, and on the 1st September 1953, he brought down Pastor and Mrs. Seaborne to Somanya, the headquarters of the original church. Then a cable was sent to the Bradford delegation, who were not received by the seceded ministers when they arrived in Ghana, and so they went to Nigeria, to come over to Somanya, which they did on the 5th Sepember 1953. The first thing the delegation did was to send a letter to Pastor Anaman in Kumasi, the leader of the secession and the head of the new organization, asking for a meeting to duscuss matters together. But the reply was a complete refusal, unless Pastor James Mckeown was present.
Following the refusal to meet with the Bradford delegation, Pastor Anaman, the leader of the secession convened an emergency meeting on the 22nd September 1953. The details were as follows:
AGENDA: Meeting with Bradford Delegates
Pastors: J.A.C Anaman, S.R. Asomaning, A.S. Mallet, C.K. Diaba, J.E Painstil, J.C. Quaye, and E. Adupare
General Deacons: J.A. Budu, E.Y. Boateng, J.E. Smith, Alex Bonsu
Overseers: E.H. Danquah, Asare Amankwa, Aboagye Attah, Quashie V.B. Anaan, Duku, and Biritwum
On account of a letter sent by the Bradford delegates to the acting chairman that they are being prevented by their home council from meeting the Pastors council with Pastor James Mckeown, this meeting resolves not to meet in the absence of Pastor James Mckeown, and that any officer of the church who violates this and invites the delegates to his assembly will be subjected to answer at the next Pastors council. This meeting decides that a circular be sent by the acting chairman to all assemblies explaining the present position of the affairs and that special bearers be sent to some of the main assemblies to explain matters. In carrying out such decisions of the 22nd September 1953 meeting, the seceded regime did everything to damage the images of Pastor Tenobi and the brethren who brought Pastor and Mrs Seaborne down to Somanya and also received the UK delegation.
Circular letters were sent out to throw dust into the eyes of the members concerning the true facts. So in order to set the records straight, brother Tenobi sent out a special circular letter on the 7th October 1953 as follows:
The Apostolic Church
7th October, 1953.
GREETINGS IN THE SAVIOUR’S NAME
1. It seems good to us as brethren in Christ to write and inform you of the matters that constrained us to receive the delegation representing the General Council of The Apostolic Church Missionary Headquarters, Bradford, England and accommodate them at Somanya without minding the Council of the present Gold Coast Apostolic Church.
2. In fact we were highly displeased when we first read the circular letter signed by the Acting Chairman announcing the action of the church’s Council in Bradford towards our beloved Pastor James McKewon by dismissing him for inviting the American revivalists.
3. But we later realized two things which made the entire news doubtful
i. The prompt change of the church’s name from the original name “The Apostolic Church” to Gold Coast Apostolic church.
ii. That Pastor James McKeown will come back and be our own Superintedent instead of being a representative Missionary of The Apostolic Church, with Missionary Headquarters in Bradford, England. However, we decided to be patient and wait for the consequences.
4. We would make it clear that some of the members in the Adanbge sections have been in the church since the year 1935, and have had enough experience regarding the founding of the church and matters that harmed the good progress of the work in the Gold Coast. We knew the cause of the divisions and Pastors and the scholars who signed the resolution in 1939, rejecting Pastor McKeown, the then representative Missionary of The Apostolic Church, worldwide. In fact it was a minority from Akroso that stood firm for The Apostolic Church and the brethren in Winneba who did not attend the meeting who received Pastor McKeown, and in 1940 the Adangbes who still stand firm for the truth invited Pastor McKeown to Huhunya; this broke every bond between Pastor James McKewon and Peter Anim and opened gates for the work in the eastern province.
5. We also remember with grief the results of the divisions by each section and the names chosen by each group such as Christ Apostolic Church, the Pampanso Apostolic Church, Oyibi Seven Days Apostolic church etc. this is still fresh in our memory, therefore when this noise sounded in our ears we could easily tell that the hour had struck and that there was danger ahead. Then we noticed new baptismal and dedication certificates printed in June this year with the new Gold Coast Apostolic Church at the top. Again the Council has gone as far as to withdraw about 3,000 Pounds from The Apostolic Church funds deposited at the Bank of British West Africa (BBWA) now Standard Chartered (which is The Apostolic Church monthly tithes and offerings sent to Accra). This money has been deposited in another Bank in the name of Gold Coast Apostolic Church, leaving 87 pounds in the BBWA for The Apostolic Church. Also some of the Pastors are going round asking members to become Latter Rain, which in reality is the newly formed Gold Coast Apostolic Church. Then the news reached us that missionary Pastor Seabourne had been banned from preaching in our assemblies because he would not rebel against The Apostolic Church, worldwide.
6. All these things caused some of us to write to Bradford, England, to ascertain whether what we have been told were the true facts. We were referred to delegation sent out representing The Apostolic Church Council in England who we learned were refused entry by the newly named Gold Coast Apostolic Church.
7.We were informed by the delegation when they were in Nigeria that they had been informed by the Apostles through Pastor Anaman that the entire Apostolic Church in the Gold Coast were united and had no interest in the visit of the delegation, therefore they could not be seen or accommodated until Pastor McKeown returned.
8. Therefore, we who desire only to serve God and not man sent for Pastor Seaborne to come to Somanya which he did. We also called the delegation to come and they arrived by air on the 5th of September, 1953, and are now with Pastor Seaborne at Somanya. They wrote immediately on their arrival inviting the Council of the Gold Coast Apostolic Church to meet with them, but the reply was a refusal until Pastor McKeown was present. The delegation then replied, stating that they now felt free to go wherever they were invited. None of the Apostles even ventured to visit and extend Christian greetings to the delegation, who represented our benefactors both spiritually and financially for years.
9. But many of the pastors and their districts who are not in favour of the drastic measures taken by the council of the Gold Coast Apostolic Church to sever all connections with The Apostoolic Church, world wide, have invited the delegates to hear from them what actually happened in Bradford. They are still with us and can be contacted at the above address.
Yours on behalf of the brethren in Adangbe,
D. T. Tenobi.
As a result of this letter, a good number of assemblies of the church invited the British delgatioon to visit them. Letters were received from Bekwai, Akroso, Winneba, Akim Oda, Konongo, Kumawu, Obogu, Bompata, Asankare, Asuboa, Atwidie, Atia, Bomfa, Odumasi, Wabini and Enunuso.