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Religion of Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Source: The Chronicle

Sekondi Anglican Church seeks reconciliation

After 8 years of religious acrimony, the Anglican Church of the Sekondi Diocese has decided to reconcile with the Orthodox Anglican Church (Parish of Saint Peter and Paul ), the breakaway faction of the mother Anglican Church.

The decision by the Sekondi Diocese, headed by Bishop Rt. Rev. Colonel Kwamina Ottoo,to reconcile with the breakaway faction, which is also headed by Bishop Jacob Augustus Welbourne, was taken at the Church’s Synod, which is the highest decision making body of the Anglican Church.

In a letter sighted by The Chronicle and signed by Bishop of the Sekondi Diocese of the Anglican Church, Bishop Rt. Rev. Colnel Kwamina Ottoo, and titled ‘Reconciliation’, written to the breakaway faction read:

“The Anglican Church desires to reconcile with the Parish of the Saint Peter and Paul Othordox Anglican Church. The reconciliation process has come about as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit who we believe has been working behind the scenes in the last eight years healing wounds, ill-feelings, uneasiness and divisive spirits”.

This move, according to Bishop Otoo, in his letter of reconciliation, was the decision of the Synod to reconcile with the breakaway faction.

Bishop Otto, who confirmed the move to reconcile in a telephone interview with The Chronicle, reiterated that the move was the decision of the Synod.

According to him, the Synod strongly believes that steps must be taken to reconcile “with our brothers, sisters, parents and friends in the SS Peter and Paul Othordox Church.”

He explained in his letter that the Synod members were convinced that in spite of all the challenges and hurdles that may confront “us in this exercise of reconciliation, we should not shelf it but pursue it in the name of God.”

It would be recalled that the election of a Bishop for the Sekondi Diocese of the Anglican Church some eight years ago led to a religious confrontation between Rev. Jacob Welbourne and the current Bishop of the Anglican Church, Bishop Kwamina Ottoo over who should ascend the papal throne.

Bishop Welbourne, unsatisfied with the election of Kwamina Ottoo as the Bishop for the Diocese, decided to break away from the Church.

He consequently formed the SS Peter and Paul Othordox Church. The formation of the Othordox Church apparently aggravated the rift between the two priests, leading to a Court action and subsequent incarceration of leaders of the breakaway church, including Bishop Welbourne himself.

Since then, there has never been peace between the memberships of the two churches. But the move by the mother Anglican Church to eventually smoke the peace pipe with its breakaway members may suffer difficulties.

This is because though the breakaway SS Peter Othrodox Church has on their part welcomed the reconciliation gesture, they had lined up a number of conditions they would want the mother Anglican Church to meet apparently before the reconciliation could work.

In a reply letter written by the Diocesan Secretary of the breakaway Orthodox Church, it reminded the Bishop of the Sekondi Anglican Church how he allegedly led the police to disrupt a Church service and brutalized worshipers at the their Cathedral, which eventually led to the incarceration of four members of the Church.

Mr. Jacob Dadzie, who confirmed his Church’s reply to the reconciliation process, noted in the letter that ecumenically, “we are not ruling out a possible gracious reconciliation with the Anglican Church and a peaceful co-existence as independent and autonomous Churches.

“After sober reflection and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the leadership and entire membership of the Orthodox Anglican Church of SS Peter and Paul have decided that you meet the following conditions.

“That the Anglican Church should take steps to withdraw all legal matters relating to the incarceration of the Most Rev Jacob Augustine Welbourne and Mr. Paapa Assan and two others.

“The Anglican Church should also unreservedly render an unqualified apology to the aforementioned individuals. The apology letter should be published in all the leading newspapers, including some radio stations.

Reminding the Anglican Church of the separate beliefs of the two churches, ‘we are desirous of maintaining a strong collaborative relationship with you and the Anglican Diocese dependent on the conditions stated above being fulfilled’.