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21.09.2006 Religion

Battle of God’s Reverends

By chronicle
Battle of God’s Reverends
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…Top Methodist Men At War

For sometime now, all has not been well with the Northern Ghana Diocese of the Methodist Church with its headquarters at the Northern city of Tamale. This follows a marred relationship between the two top 'men of God' at the bishopric.
The Diocesan Bishop Rt. Rev. J. K. Atto Brown and the Synod Secretary/Superintendent Minister, Very Rev. George Annor Darko, who is the second-in-command at the Diocese, have for sometime now been living in a relationship characterized by what can be described as a covert war of acrimony, attrition and inter-personal suspicions.

A document of the Church confirms that there has been a serious tension between the two top men of the Methodist Church, which is one of the largest Christian denominations in the country in terms of its converts to Christ and undoubtedly one of the oldest Churches in the country.

“This strained relationship has not only extended to their wives and children, but also brought unnecessary divisions, uneasiness and squabbles among the Ministers and the Congregation. Each party has so taken an entrenched position that they would not budge to any reconciliatory move,” a Committee report of the Church contained.

“In fact that does not speak well of a church who shows the way and serve as light and salt of the world. This crisis has unfortunately happened at a time when the entire Methodist Church is carrying a vision of doubling her membership in five years,” the report further stated.

Rt. Rev. Atto Brown traces the problems with his lieutenant to his resolve to ensuring fair and accountable administration on the part of the Synod Secretary, who is also a Superintendent Minister of the Church. The Very Rev. Annor Darko, however holds a contrary view as far as the cause of the marred relationship between him and his religious boss is concerned. He told The Chronicle in a telephone interview from his Tamale base that the problems were caused by, as he put it, “the big man.” When asked about whom that big man was, he mentioned the Bishop.

Independent investigations indicate that the impasse between the two 'men of God' started when the Bishop commissioned investigations into how millions of donor funds allocated to the Very Rev. Darko for the construction of some church buildings (God's work) in the Tamale circuit of the Methodist Church were expended. About a month ago, The Chronicle wrote about the Tamale Diocese of the Church and highlighted allegations of sexual harassment and other charges against the presiding Bishop. The Bishop says he believed the publication was engineered by the Synod Secretary to tarnish his reputation.

Following the publication, a Committee was appointed at the Fourth Biennial/42nd Conference of the Church to investigate issues raised in the publication among other related matters. The Committee, that was made up of Rt. Rev. Nuh Ben Abubekr as Chairman, Very Rev. Isaac K. Acquah as secretary, with Rt. Rev. Samuel Agyeman Kwakye and Very Rev. Grace Nnuro as members, found that no allegations of sexual harassment was reported or was the Bishop accused by anybody. “No sexual harassment whatsoever was reported or the Bishop accused by anybody,” the church's Committee report noted.

In an interview with the Synod Secretary he denied being the one behind the publication and other problems that the Bishop was facing.

He admitted during the interview that his relationship with the Bishop had not been the best but indicated that there had been a Committee to resolve the marred relationship between him and his boss. “As far as I am concerned, there is no bad blood between the two of us because I have apologized to the Bishop for talking to him in a manner that I think was not the best,” Very Rev. Darko told the paper.

When the Superintendent Minister was asked whether he was aware of any complaints of sexual harassment levelled against the Bishop by any church member, he said he had neither personally witnessed nor heard anything to that effect prior to The Chronicle publication, but had only heard people talking about harassment by the Bishop after that publication.

The report of the Committee that investigated the allegations against the Bishop however, captured the same Synod scribe as saying, he was not aware of any such complaints against Rt. Rev. Atto Brown. “The Supt. Minister when asked, said he has not seen, heard and know of any such conduct of his Bishop,” the report of the investigation Committee stated.

The Committee started its investigations into the allegations against the Bishop on September 1 - almost ten days after the publication- and it is not clear why Very Rev. Darko chose to tell The Chronicle a different story from what he had told the Committee that investigated the matter.

In a Subsequent interview with Rt. Rev. Atto Brown who had been angered by The Chronicle publication to the extent of making him issue certain threats on the paper, he brushed aside all that his deputy had told the paper and still expressed the conviction that the Synod Secretary knew something about the publication.

When he was asked whether he had not forgiven his subordinate after the reconciliatory measures, he asked, “but if I say I have forgiven him, does that erase the lies he had told about me?”

Meanwhile, Rev. Darko told the paper in another interview on Monday (he pleaded with this reporter to call him on Monday for more details on the issues after the first interview last week), that he had been transferred from Tamale and was packing his things to leave for Kumasi, his permanent place of abode.

On Monday too, he would not respond to most of the questions that were raised in the interview concerning some financial transactions involving him that the paper was investigating.

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