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Opinions of Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Columnist: Ofosu-Donkoh, Kobina

On Martey's Madness ...

The other day, I listened to my brother, Rev. Yaw Nkansah, (Moderator of the Conference of Ghanaian Presbyterian churches in North America) on Adom FM addressing the issue of what I have always described as "Martey's Madness", and I thought I should add my voice in support of my brother, Rev. Nkansah, in an effort to expose further the clandestine motives of Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Martey in his dubious crusade against Ghanaian Presbyterian Churches within the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) under the pretext of the recent same-sex marriage amendment of the PCUSA's constitution.

I submit that Martey's goal in all of this gay nonsense is to ensure that our Ghanaian churches under PCUSA will disintegrate, so that our members will join PCG churches here in the US. But he has already failed miserably, because it is very clear that the more he vilifies us, the more our churches grow, in comparison to his own Ghanaian PCG churches in the US. It is UNFORTUNATE THAT PCG IN GHANA DOES NOT HAVE THE COURAGE to call him to order, because they do not challenge their moderators even when they are wrong, and with the likes of master-bullies like Martey occupying the most powerful office of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, of course, there is not much to be expected from the General Assembly of the PCG.

I want to emphasize that none of us Ghanaian PCUSA congregations subscribes to PCUSA's approval of same-sex relationships, and the Conference of Ghanaian Presbyterian Churches in North America (USA/Canada) has issued a statement to that effect, and so have the Koreans, and Hispanics and Brazilians and many more ethnic congregations within the PCUSA. But we will not walk away from them simply because a majority of our 179 Presbyteries are wrong. We intend to stay and fight until this shall be overturned someday. Note that it took those gay advocates in the PCUSA over 30 years to finally have their way this time. But nothing is permanent in PCUSA. Every article of the Book of Order (our constitution) is subject to change through due processes, and this one too shall be changed eventually at a certain point, I believe. And even if it does not change, we still will stay PCUSA, giving the AUTONOMOUS nature of Presbyteries and congregations in PCUSA polity, knowledge that Martey has deliberately and dishonestly ignored.

You see, in PCUSA polity, pastors are CALLED and not SENT as in PCG. While the General Assembly Council of PCG sends out pastors to man their churches regardless of whether the congregations want them or not, in PCUSA, pastors are CALLED by congregations through advertisements and interviews and voting at the congregational level. Congregations therefore hire and fire pastors in PCUSA. The denomination's head office in Louisville, KY does not have the power to impose pastors upon local congregations, and Presbyteries do not have that kind of power either. My entire congregation in Philadelphia votes on my salary every year and decides whether they want to keep me or not. That is the level of autonomy in PCUSA local congregations. And it is against this background that we Ghanaian congregations in PCUSA will never hire a gay or lesbian pastor to minister in our churches. It is as simple as that. Pastors here are CALLED by congregations, and not SENT from the top!

Secondly, the change in the language of the marriage clause of the Book of Order which re-defines marriage as a union between two people, also includes a clear language of DISCRETION & CONSCIENCE of not only pastors to decide whether they want to bless same sex marriages, but also of Sessions to agree whether their church facilities can be used for such marriages. The discretion clause of the new amendment (W-4.9000) says:
"Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder [pastor] to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder's or the session's discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God."

Elsewhere in the same amendment, the conscience clause is reiterated as follows:
"Teaching elders have the ... freedom of conscience in the interpretation of Scripture to participate in any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform ... In no case shall any teaching elder's conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her understanding of the Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit."

Now, Martey cannot claim to be ignorant of this clause of discretion and conscience. He is a well-read and highly published Professor, who would not embark on any agenda about which he lacks knowledge and understanding. And yet he is relentlessly vilifying and discrediting Ghanaian PCUSA churches as gay churches and therefore "not Bible-based" (his own words at a meeting we had with him in Manhattan). That is DISHONESTY at its highest.

I have always maintained that the PCUSA is not actually the target of all of this anti-gay, Martey-led PCG crusade. It is very obvious that his objective is to destroy Ghanaian PCUSA congregations in order to take advantage of our members who may have little or no option than to join PCG churches in the USA when our own churches have been discredited and castigated as gay churches, because he knows very well how Ghanaian culture frowns upon same-sex marriages. What he is doing is to take undue advantage of PCUSA's same-sex issue to brainwash our members into quitting Ghanaian PCUSA churches and joining Ghanaian PCG churches in the US. I could even suspect that given his broad exposure to higher education in the western world (a Masters from the University of Edinburgh in the UK, and a Masters & a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York), Martey may not even be as passionately against same-sex marriages as he is blowing his horns out there, claiming to be. I want to emphasize again that Martey's main motive behind all his same-sex nonsense is to destroy Ghanaian PCUSA churches so that his dream of a Ghanaian PCG empire in the US may thrive. It is like the proverbial mentality of "I will keep you down in order that I can stand and be seen." It is a motive that he had been nursing even before he became moderator, for we are aware of his utter disdain for placing Ghanaian Presbyterian churches under the PCUSA long before he ascended the moderatorial throne of the PCG. In this respect, I see him as nothing else than a master mischief-manufacturer! Unfortunately, this is the man who has occupied the most honorable seat of Moderator of our most respected and revered mother Presbyterian Church of Ghana for the past 5 years. GOD HELP MOTHER PCG!!!

Martey is busy traveling across the US luring Ghanaian PCUSA members to "secede" (that was his exact word at the meeting we had with him in Manhattan, NY) and join PCG churches in the USA. He even goes out of his way to threaten sanctions against some of his own PCG pastors from Ghana who travel to the US on their annual leave, banning them from having anything to do with Ghanaian PCUSA churches. And his madness has caught up with some of his pastors and presbyters in the US, who also go about spewing nonsense about Ghanaian PCUSA churches, IGNORANTLY and MISCHIEVOUSLY describing us as gay churches, and making every effort to get our members to break away from our churches to form churches to be placed under PCG.

About two years ago, a PCG delegation was sent to Delaware to convince our Ghanaian PCUSA congregation there to break away from PCUSA and become PCG. Recently, a group of elders from my congregation in Philadelphia attended a memorial service in a PCG congregation in Union, NJ. And after the service, they were identified and called to their session meeting, as the session itself made frantic efforts to convince them at the meeting to break away from my congregation so they could use them to start a PCG congregation in Philadelphia. And the basis of their treachery was that my congregation is a gay church, and that even their pastor (i.e. myself) has been dismissed by the PCG in Ghana, the same treachery that PCG used to break up Rev. Aboagye's Ramseyer Presbyterian PCUSA congregation in Columbus, Ohio on the eve of their chartering service a couple of years ago. Not long ago, the PCG effectively broke up our PCUSA congregation in Atlanta, GA and stole about half of the membership away to form a church under the Presbyterian Church of Ghana.

I wonder why Martey is so busy inaugurating presbyteries and districts in the US and installing pastors in PCG churches in the USA when the US constitution itself does not frown on same sex marriages, and when many states have actually legalized it, including New York where most of his PCG members live and work. Are those that go to his churches in the New York living under a different dispensation? When he visits the US, which he loves to do, does he not sleep in the same hotels and eat from the same restaurants and sit on the same buses and trains and planes, and go to the same stores and offices that US gays and lesbians sleep and use and visit? If he had to cut off relationships with institutions that recognize gay relationships, he should have cut the PCG off from the USA as a country in the first place, and then there would not be any need whatsoever to server relationship with the PCUSA. PCUSA recognizing same sex marriages is just like the USA itself that already recognizes and tolerates that relationship.

As for Ghanaian PCUSA churches, we have vowed to press on without malice against our PCUSA brethren who have lost the way. We seek to help them rediscover the light of the Gospel, in order that we will regain our lost brethren, so THAT WE ALL MAY BE ONE, the Christocentric goal that PCG seems to have lost perspective on at this time. We will stay and evangelize our brethren back into the light of Christ.

Rev. Kobina Ofosu-Donkoh, Ph.D.
Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104