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Diasporian News of Thursday, 28 May 2015

Source: Afrikan Post

Rev. Yaw Nkansah Comes Clean ....

.....on Ghanaian Presbyterian Churches affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA)]]


The Rev. Dr. Martey, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) has said the Ghanaian Presbyterian Churches affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) are “non Bible-believing” and “homosexual” churches; he is wrong on both counts and he knows it. If Rev Dr. Martey really has any doubts and cares to check the facts, he can do so with a single telephone call to his immediate past predecessor, former Moderator Rev. Dr. Yaw Frimpong Manso who currently pastors one of these churches in New York. The fact that he has not done that speaks volumes.

The PCUSA and PCG have been mission partners for several decades. As part of that partnership, the PCUSA has generously provided educational opportunities for PCG clergy at several US seminaries, including Columbia, Princeton, McCormick, Dubuque and Union. Indeed, as of this writing, two senior PCG clergy, Rev. Azumah and the Rev. Herbert Anim Oppong, the immediate past Clerk (Chief Administrative Officer) of the General Assembly of the PCG are on PCUSA-sponsored scholarships studying for doctorate degrees at Columbia and Princeton, respectively. In its capacity as a charitable organization, the PCUSA is also a financial sponsor of the Akrofi Christaller Institute in Akropong and the Ghana Prison Mission.

Consistent with this partnership, the Ghanaian Presbyterian churches affiliated with the PCUSA have traditionally requested ordained PCG pastors to come to the US to help pastor their newly formed immigrant churches, because they are familiar with our peculiar worship styles and culture. In the past several years, Rev. Martey has stepped up efforts to plant PCG churches in the US that are not affiliated with their mission partner, the PCUSA. In an effort to put the PCUSA- affiliated Ghanaian Presbyterian churches at a disadvantage, the Rev. Martey has denied all requests for PCG ordained clergy to pastor these congregations. The result has been the failure of these ministries with the PCG congregations picking up the membership. This predatory approach to church planting has caused dissension in Ghanaian communities in several cities in the US. We recognize that the Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCG has discretion in placement of PCG ordained personnel but it is alarming that the Rev. Martey has threatened to fire PCG clergy who accept an invitation to visit a PCUSA affiliated Ghanaian Presbyterian congregation even while on their annual vacation.

The case of the Rev. Elizabeth Acquaah is illustrative of the abuse that has become the hallmark of the Rev. Martey. The Rev. Sam Acquaah, the organizing pastor of a Ghanaian PCUSA-affiliated congregation in Atlanta, died before the church could be chartered. His family moved back to Ghana. When the church finally reached the point of being charted, Rev. Acuaah’s widow, the Rev. Elizabeth Acquaah, herself an ordained minister in the PCG, was invited by the Atlanta Presbytery, as a gesture of honor, to commemorate the contribution of her late husband to the establishment of the Church. As per protocol, she obtained permission from the Akuapem Presbytery where she lived in Ghana, as well as the blessing of the Clerk of the General Assembly of the PCG. Unfortunately, as soon as Rev. Elizabeth Acquaah arrived in Atlanta, she received a call from the Right Reverend Dr. Martey from Ghana to pack and leave her host -the Atlanta PC USA church –immediately or face reprimand. She had no choice but to return to Ghana without participating in the event. The Rev. Dr. Martey Similarly threatened disciplinary action against the Rev.Kofi Agyei Kwabi, when Rev. Martey found out that the pastor, who was on his approved annual leave, was about to travel to the United States to help with a revival service organized by the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church in Woodbridge, Virginia.

More recently, the Rev. Dr.Martey has capitalized on a decision by the General Assembly of the PCUSA to permit the ordination of persons of all sexual orientations, and same sex marriages, where it is allowed by law, to denigrate the PCUSA affiliated churches as “non Bible-believing” and “homosexual” churches. The PCUSA decision specifically stipulates that the decision to ordain gay clergy or perform same-sex marriages is entirely the choice of individual congregations. The Rev. Dr. Matey has been silent on this point because it apparently complicates his campaign to cause disaffection in, and break up, these churches so that the PCG churches he is planting can pick up their members. The Rev. Martey has made these comments not only in Ghana but on at least one Ghanaian community radio station in the US as recently as April this year. Although the Rev. Martey has said in Ghana and declared to Ghanaian communities in the US that the PCG does not have anything to do with the PCUSA because the latter is a “homosexual” church, he has taken no steps to formally dissolve the partnership between the two churches, presumably because it may mean the end of all the support the PCUSA provides the PCG.

This effort on the part of the Rev. Martey to paint the PCUSA affiliated churches “ homosexual” and “non- Bible-believing” when he knows otherwise is not just dishonest, it is also destructive to these ministries that are focused on preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ unto salvation and may leave a lasting impression on our children. Four years ago, I led a delegation of our Young Peoples Guild (YPG) from Ebenezer Presbyterian Church to Ghana. Some of these children who were born in America had never been to Ghana. They had been told by their own parents and the church about the Presbyterian Church of Ghana – the mother church – in which they were raised. These young people, many of them in their teenage years, were excited about visiting Ghana and the mother church. On arrival, the delegation was literally stranded at the Kotoka International Airport because Rev. Dr. Martey refused to release the bus that was to meet and transport them to their lodging. A planned visit to PCG Headquarters had to be cancelled because Rev, Dr. Martey would not receive the children. He told me directly that the PCG had nothing to do with the PCUSA because the PCG is a Bible-believing church and the PCUSA is not and that the Ghanaian PCUSA churches give our money to the PCUSA, not the PCG. I was hard pressed trying to explain to these young children how it is that the leader of what they had been led to believe was their mother church was being so hostile to them.

It is highly unlikely that the Rev. Dr. Martey is ignorant of the facts. He has continued the campaign to denigrate the PCUSA Ghanaian affiliates as “homosexual” and “non-Bible-believingonly because it has been effective in breaking up some of these churches whose membership then become the core of the new PCG congregations he has been busily planting in the US. Is it not strange the Rev. Dr. Frimpong Manso, the Rev. Dr. Martey’s immediate past predecessor as Moderator of the PCG is in New York, pastoring one of the churches the Rev. Martey considers “non Bible-believing” and homosexual?” If Rev. Martey’s pronouncements were based on genuinely not knowing the truth about these churches, all he had to do was to pick up the phone and call the Rev. Dr. Frimpong Manso to get the facts. Rev. Dr. Martey has never called Rev. Dr. Frimpong Manso even though he comes to the US frequently.
The Rev. Dr. Martey cannot continue to have it both ways. The Bible says in Luke 5:30-32:
“The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
The Bible calls homosexuality a sin; we agree. If Rev. Dr. Martey believes that the Ghanaian Presbyterian churches affiliated with the PCUSA accept homosexuality, he should not be trying to avoid us; he should seize every opportunity to engage with us and the PCUSA to call us to repentance; that is what Jesus did. Our Lord Jesus said it is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. This is the reason why we have chosen not to leave the PCUSA. If the Rev. Dr. Martey will not follow Christ’s example, then he needs to stop denigrating us. By continuing to peddle what he knows is a falsehood, the Rev. Dr. Martey has brought himself into disrepute and now imperils the moral authority of the office he holds. The Council of the PCG will do well to advise him to retreat from this destructive campaign that not only damages the PCUSA affiliated churches but will, in time, also damage the PCG.
The PCG and PCUSA have had a long relationship as mission partners. The Rev. Dr. Martey takes issue with the recent changes in the constitution of the PCUSA, so do we, but the way he has handled that disagreement is, to put it charitably, without grace. At the Synod in the Northern region of Ghana, the PCG took a decision to allow new converts in the Presbyterian Church in the Northern regions to continue to practice polygamy because it was part of their culture. The mission partners of the PCG knew this decision was contrary to the teachings of the Bible, but they handled it with grace, allowing the PCG to resolve the problem internally, while continuing to support them materially and with prayer. In time, the northern churches themselves objected to being relegated to second class Christianity and demanded to be held to the standard established by the Bible. The PCG recognized their error and reversed the policy. Perhaps there is a lesson in there for the Rev. Dr. Martey and all those among us who would rather pontificate than do the work that Christ has called us to do.

Reverend Yaw Nkansah,
Moderator

The Rev. Yaw Nkansah is the founding and Senior Pastor of the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. He is also the current Moderator of the Conference of Ghanaian Presbyterian Churches in North American (CGPCNA). The CGPCNA is a fraternity of Ghanaian immigrant congregations affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) and the Presbyterian Church of Canada (PCC). He was educated at the Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia and was ordained and installed as Pastor by the National Capital Presbytery of the PCUSA in 2002. His congregation is affiliated with the PCUSA.