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Churches must champion African unity - Pastors
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Religion of Monday, 9 July 2007

Source: GNA

Churches must champion African unity - Pastors

Accra, July 9, GNA - The Rev. Dr. Stephen K. Asante, President of the Ghana Baptist Convention (GBC), on Monday called on the church in Africa to champion the process towards African unity by breaking the denominational barriers that impeded unity in the tradition of Christ. He noted that the image of the church as painted in the Bible depicted a single organic and dynamic being with unity of purpose and focus, saying that the relevance of the church to society depended on its ability to unite its members and thereby lead the way towards unity on the continent.

Rev. Asante made the remark at the opening of the 44th Annual Session of GBC under the theme: "Deepening Fellowship for Effective and Holistic Ministry."

The four-day session is being attended by over 500 Baptist pastors and lay ministers from home and abroad. Rev. Asante, who is also the Vice President of the Christian Council of Ghana, said in the context of the move toward political and economic union by African states the church stood at a great advantage with its large numbers to lead the way by uniting the peoples of Africa from the grassroots.

"We need to unite to have a stronger voice of influence on issues that pertain to the effort at uniting African states," he said. "When we unite we would have greater resources to undertake projects that would give a stronger voice and make us relevant to society."

Rev. Asante challenged the church to uphold the principles of honesty and integrity, saying those two principles were necessary to the role of the church in the process towards unity in the church itself in the Africa as a whole.

The guest speaker, the Most Rev. Dr. Robert Aboagye-Mensah, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, noted that even the secular world had recognised the importance of relational and connectional living hence concepts like globalisation and regionalisation. "As a church we can only survive and become relevant to society when we strengthen our relationship," he said. "Unfortunately we are failing in this area and very soon we would become irrelevant to society if we do not break the barriers now."

He said experience in the political world showed that when political leaders of various states maintained good relations, their peoples lived as one, adding that the leaders of the church needed to lead the way in breaking the denominational barriers.

Rev. Aboagye-Mensah said the greatest challenge he had as a President of the Methodist church was that of inculcating the relational and connectional thinking in his own pastors. He also said that Christian leaders played down the importance of unity in the church and that was not good for the future survival of the church.

The Rev. Paul Msiza, President of All Africa Baptist Fellowship, called on Christians in Ghana to unite and take advantage of the upcoming CAN 2008 football tournament in Ghana to preach the gospel and build bridges among Christians in Africa. He promised to do the same in South Africa, where he comes from, during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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