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A HISTORY OF THE METHODIST CHURCH, KUMASI DIOCESE
As the Methodist Church Ghana, and for that matter the Diocese, celebrates 50years of the attainment of autonomy of the British Conference; it is important to look back to see where the church began in order to appreciate how far the Lord has led His church.
The Kumasi Diocese as it is now known was born out of the missionary activities by the Wesleyan Methodists in Ashanti, spearheaded by the Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman, in 1839. Prior to this, Mr. James Hayford, a representative of the British Merchant Company Administration in Kumasi, had started a Methodist Fellowship of a sort in Kumasi. Due to his good relations; he on one occasion had the opportunity to conduct a divine service in the King’s palace. Reports of these developments to the church in Cape Coast partly precipitated Rev. Freeman’s missionary enterprise to Kumasi. The church mobilized an amount of sixty pounds to fund this mission project. Coupled with this was the interest in converting the then ‘dark Ashanti’ to the saving knowledge of Christ.
Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman encountered several obstacles on his first missionary trip to Kumasi. Notable among these was the long delay he faced in Kusa (his first stop in Ashanti) and Fomena due to the confused notions held concerning the nature of his mission enterprise. Rev. T. B. Freeman was eventually admitted by the King, Nana Kwaku Duah, into Kumasi on 1st April, 1839; after he had waited patiently in Kusa and Fomena for a total of 48 days.
In Kumasi, as Rev. Freeman recounted in his journal, he and his entourage were warmly received by the Asantehene and his Court. The King allowed him to preach in the streets and he was again given the opportunity to conduct two divine services during his stay. At this stage the seed of Methodism in Ashanti and what was to become the Kumasi Diocese had just been sown.
On April 15th 1839 Rev. T. B. Freeman returned to the Coast. He came back to Kumasi in December, 1841 bearing gifts for the Asantehene. These gifts comprised a carriage, a table, twelve chairs, a table linen, dinner, breakfast and tea sets and a portrait of the Queen. He also returned with the two Asante Princes, John Owusu Ansah and William Owusu Kwantabisa, who had been sent to England to signify Asante’s commitment to the 1831 Treaty.
By 1842 the Asantehene had permitted, on Rev. Freeman’s request, the establishment of the first mission post in Kumasi. The King further provided the mission with land at Krobo Odumase (K.O.) with which they were to establish this post. Interestingly this land houses a number of properties of the Methodist Church Ghana. Significantly this includes the Nana Kwaku Duah I Methodist House which serves as the Diocesan Headquarters.
The historic attainment of Autonomy by the Methodist Church Ghana in July, 1961 saw the birth of five new Districts, with the Kumasi District inclusive. The Subsequent adoption of the biblical pattern of Episcopacy by the Methodist Church Ghana in 1999, transformed the Kumasi District into the KUMASI DIOCESE as it is now known.
With Rev. Brooking being the first Resident Minister to be stationed in Kumasi, many other missionaries and ministers have served in what has developed into the present day Kumasi Diocese.
The Kumasi Diocese currently holds a ministerial staff strength of 141. In addition, a lay staff of 15 to aid in the day to day administration of the Diocesan Head Office.
The following have served the Diocese and its antecedent District in their capacities as District Chairmen or Diocesan Bishops in Kumasi.
Rt. Rev. J. F. Bart – Addison 1961 – 1965
Rt. Rev. M.K. Debrah 1965 - 1968
Rt. Rev. G. A. Apatu 1968 - 1974
Rt. Rev. J. W. De-Graft Johnson 1974 - 1979
Rt. Rev. Major E.C. Bonney 1979 - 1984
Rt. Rev. I. K. Essuamah –Thompson 1984 - 1989
Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Asante – Antwi1989 - 1996
Rt. Rev. Kwaku Asamoah- Okyere 1996 - 2002
Rt. Rev. Nuh Ben Abubekr 2002 - 2008
Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel K. Asante2008 - 2009
Rt. Rev. Prof Osei Safo-Kantanka 2009 – date
The Diocesan Lay Chairmen who have served the Kumasi Diocese are:
Ev. S. K. Danso 2001 - 2004
Mr. J.G.K. Owusu 2004 - 2007
Lawyer Kwame Boafo 2007 - 2010
Mrs. Doris Amoyaw 2010 – date
Methodism in Asante has since its beginnings influenced not only the religious development of the people but also the economic and social development of the Society. As early as 1844 the Wesleyan Methodist Primary School (now the K.O. Methodist Schools) had been established in Kumasi. Subsequent to this, many more basic, second cycle and tertiary institutions have been established. Notable among these are the prestigious Wesley College of Education, Offinso College of Education, Kumasi Wesley Girls’ High School, Prempeh College, Osei Tutu Senior High School, Mmofraturo Primary and J.H.S and the Kwadaso Women’s Training Centre. Again the church has established a hospital at Ankaase (the Methodist Faith Healing Hospital) together with a number of clinics to serve the health needs of the people.
Currently the Kumasi Diocese has started the Kumasi Methodist Diocesan Co-operative Credit Union (KMDCCU) which is aimed at improving the financial lot of the people in the Diocese.
The Diocese is currently headed by the Diocesan Bishop in the person of Rt. Rev. Prof. Osei Safo-Kantanka, seconded by the Diocesan Lay Chairman, Mrs. Doris Amoyaw and Assisted by Very Rev. Emmanuel Ansah and Very Rev. Christopher Andam serving as Synod Secretary and Assistant Synod Secretary respectively.
The present day Kumasi Diocese holds the highest number of, 28, Circuits within the Connexion and an estimated total membership of 53,886, again the largest in Connexion. It is however worthy of note that, in 1997; two Districts (Now Dioceses), Obuasi and Effiduase, were carved out of the then Kumasi District.
The Kumasi Diocese, as it is now known, has been in actual existence since 1961 and just like the unrelenting missionary seed that germinated into the Diocese; the Diocese has never rested on its oars in its core business, which is evangelization. The rapid growth of the Diocese and its subsequent divisions testifies to this fact. The Diocese has repeatedly won the Connexional evangelization award owing to its continuous activeness in that respect.
This brief account ends on the note that, the gallant missionaries who sowed the seed of Methodism, for that matter Christianity in Asante, did not labour in vain as the seed has germinated into the giant and influential tree of the Kumasi Diocese today.
This guest post is by Sarah N. Nkansah
An archivist at the Methodist Diocesan office Kumasi.
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