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01.01.2004 General News

Church services usher in New Year

By GNA
Church services usher in New Year
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Accra, Jan. 1, GNA - Many churches in Accra were filled with regular and occasional worshippers to usher in the New Year. At the Ghana Police Church at the Akuafo Intercession, the service took the form of intercessory prayers, singing and dancing. Prayers were offered for President John Agyekum Kufuor; Vice President Aliu Mahama; the Cabinet; Parliament; Judiciary; Police and the entire nation. Preaching the sermon the Very Reverend J.M.Y. Edusu-Eyison, an Associate Minister of the church, urged Christians to have faith in God as they entered the New Year. He said the New Year would bring challenges but these should not make Christians to lose hope and cited the case of Joshua, who had to take up the mantle of leadership after the death of Moses to lead the Israelites to cross the Jordan. The Chaplain General of the Church, the Very Reverend Benjamin Dennis Quansah asked Christians to leave all the negative things behind and move into the New Year with positive things only. He said Christians should do the right things so that they could benefit from the blessings of God, adding: "We do not get the required blessings because we do not do the right things". The Chaplain General said the security agencies were ever ready for anybody, who would attempt to destabilise the country and urged the people to report people with dubious intentions. He urged Christians to stand up against evil forces to prove that " we are over comers".
At the Royal House Chapel, The General Overseer, the Reverend Sam Korankye Ankrah asked churches not to offer politicians platforms for their electioneering campaigns as the country prepared for the 2004 General Election.
He said the church harboured people from different ethnic groups with varied political views and that if churches became partisan it was likely to cause division within the congregation and create unnecessary tension.
Reverend Korankye Ankrah noted that as had been the practice, politicians were likely to whip up ethnic sentiments in their bid to canvass support in the elections.
He said it was, however, important for the church to play a neutral role and display high sense of maturity so that it could offer the politicians the needed advice and support.
"Let us warmly receive the party that emerge winner in the 2004 Elections and admonish the loser to accept defeat."
Reverend Korankye Ankrah advised any political party that might lose the election to accept defeat to ensure the sustainability of the democratic process in the country.
He urged the church to pray fervently for peace to prevail before, during and after the elections, saying if the churches did not seek divine intervention in the forthcoming election it could not escape from the consequences.
President Kufuor joined the congregation at the Christ the King Catholic Church to usher in the New Year.
In a sermon the Right Reverend Stephen Adu Kwaning, Parish Priest, called on Christians to rededicate their lives to Christ and to live by his example of humility and selflessness.
He said the New Year should be a year of stocktaking and reflection for Christians on what they should have done better and what they could do to help others and the nation.
Father Kwaning urged Christians to be law abiding, especially as the electioneering period approached, to sustain the peace in the country, adding that they should use their time profitably and to work hard to justify what they earned.
He exhorted Ghanaians to look forward to the New Year with optimism, trust and faith that things would be better for them. Christians usher in New Year with services Accra, Jan 1, GNA - Christians throughout the country on Wednesday held watch night church services to usher in the New Year with prayers for national prosperity and God's guidance for a peaceful election, this year.
At the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, Canon Emmanuel Armah, who preached on the theme: "As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord", urged Christians to be committed to God and to ensure that they abided by the resolutions that they would make in the New Year. He said many people made New Year resolutions, went by it for the first three days and that would be the end of it.
"I, therefore, entreat you to make resolutions that will bring peace, love that would lead to both spiritual and physical development."
Canon Armah urged parents to be more responsible to their children, learn to forgive and forget the wrong doings of those who offended them and to rather live with tem in peace and harmony.
"As Christians, we must also learn to speak the truth, give to the needy, visit the sick and take part in all national activities." The church prayed for the growth of churches; peace in countries that were engulfed in conflict, world leaders, the Judiciary and Legislature.
The first mass of the year, circumcision and naming of the Christ Jesus was performed five minutes after midnight to usher in the New Year, 2004.
The Anglican Bishop of Accra the Reverend Justice Offei Akrofi, was among the teaming worshippers.
Worshippers poured in, in their numbers to usher in the New Year with prayers and supplication at the Soul Clinic International Church, East Cantonments in Accra.
They sang praises and worshipped in the characteristic African manner thanking God for his mercies throughout 2003.
The Reverend Dennis Osei-Manu, Overseer of the Church, commended Christians for keeping faith with God and urged them to maintain the peace that the country was enjoying.
"Surely, if we love ourselves, remain pure and merciful, God will enlighten our darkness," he said.
Rev. Osei-Manu pointed out that there was some level of darkness in everyone's life: "But if we do good to ourselves and our brethren, we are certain to receive reward from God."
Preaching on the theme: "The Time of Enlightenment", he urged the church to invest in and to cater for the needs of its members.
He noted that it was not right for some Christians to live in darkness, poverty and disarray, saying, "we must live as people who are in the light by dint of the way we live our lives".
At the Grace Chapel International in Kaneshie, the Reverend Wisdom Dafeamekpo, Head Pastor, asked the congregation to look forward to the New Year with hope and faith even in the face of difficulties, saying, many were the afflictions of the righteous but God was ready to deliver those who put their trust in him.
He said the same God, who saw Christians through 2003, was ready to show mercy again during the New Year.
The Head Pastor said past victories in the midst of trials should always serve as a reference point to guide people to trust in God at all times and to face the future with hope.
At the Presbyterian Church of Resurrection, Elder Gabriel Canacoo, called on Christians to do away with nepotism and division, "since in Christ all Christians are one and the same people".
He said with 2004 being an election year, Ghanaians should endeavour to maintain the peace and tranquillity that the country had enjoyed over the years.
"We can only do this by loving one another. We should not pay back evil with evil, but rather pay back evil with blessings. Loving one another enables us to offer ourselves as sacrifices without blemish." Elder Canacoo said as a nation "we should all work towards ensuring peace in spite of all the troubles that the people may be going through as individuals".
He said to the unbeliever, "a gesture of kindness might imply weakness, but the Christians should not be deterred since God commands us to be kind to one another, forgiving one another just as Christ and God forgave us".
The Elder condemned wickedness at work places, homes, offices and in neighbourhoods, saying, "all would come to naught if only Christians will remain steadfast in the midst of persecutions".
Elder Canacoo urged Ghanaians to forgive and bless those who deliberately hurt them and said: "Through such acts God himself would continue to protect, guide and keep you that no harm would befall you. In blessing we receive what God has promised," he said.
Forty-two congregations of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) from the Accra-Tema Metropolis converged at the Independence Square for a praise and worship service dubbed "Renewal Watch Night" to welcome the New Year and to thank the Lord for seeing them through the last year.
Scripture readings and exhortations dwelt on God's divine love and protection for mankind and for Christians to draw closer to God to experience his love and affection.
Dr Mensa Otabil, General Overseer of the Church, stressed the need for Christians to prepare for God to touch their hearts in the New Year, which he described as "a year of divine experiences".
He said while challenges would continue to be part of the human experience, Christians would overcome difficulties by placing their hope and trust in God's providence and protection.
Dr Mensa Otabil asked Christians to show the virtue of humility for God to exalt them through His divine promotion.
The Reverend Victor Oko Abbey, Head Pastor of the Osu Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, called on Christians to follow the teachings of Christ and to do away with pettiness.
Christians should use their talents for the benefit of the society especially the poor, he told the large congregation at a watch night service.
Rev Oko-Abbey urged older members of the church not to pride themselves with past glories but should rather set good examples for the younger generation.
In a New Year message, Mr. Solomon Offei Darko, Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, called for peace and unity to ensure the development of the country.
He said since this year was an election year, it would be better for Ghanaians to sustain the peace and stability that the country had enjoyed over the years.
He called for support for the AMA in its waste management efforts and to maintain sanitation within the metropolis.
At the Holy Spirit Cathedral, thousands of Catholics sang captivating songs of praise God to usher in the New Year. ' The Priests, Elderly and children of different races danced to give thanks to God for His mercies in seeing them enter the New Year.
The songs that rocked the foundation of the imposing Cathedral were: "I am the Winner" and "Jesus You Go Win o!"
The Reverend Father Pius Kpeglo, The Cathedral Administrator, urged Christians to put their faith in God to do new things in their lives. Rev Fr Raphael Atta Donkor in his sermon urged Christians to dedicate the year to the Holy Spirit and resolve to give their lives to Christ and make the year, a year with a difference. He urged people who made resolutions in the past year but did not receive any reward not to give up, adding that so many people went through terrible times and ended nicely while others started nicely and ended badly.
Rev. Fr. Atta Donkor called on Christians to forget the past and think of what was ahead of them, saying that they should say no to the devil who was preventing them from achieving their goals and sending them far away from Christ. Datelined Kumasi The Reverend James Badu, General Overseer of the African Faith Ministry International has urged Christians to avoid divisive tendencies that retard progress.

He said this was the only way that Ghanaians could have its developmental agenda realised.

Rev. Badu was preaching to usher in the New Year in Kumasi. He called on the youth to change their sexual habits to avoid contracting the HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). Rev. Badu called on the congregation to follow the tenets of Chritianity, be submissive and have respect and love for one another. The General Overseer asked them to be law-abiding and pray hard that the relative peace Ghanaians are enjoying could be sustained. Preaching at the Ramseyer Memorial Presbyterian Church at Adum in Kumasi, Reverend Martin Obeng, the Second Minister, called on the congregation to accept the fact that they were sinners and that Christ has come to redeem them from their sins adding that there was the need for them to take good care of themselves.

He said God blessings are there for them and so they should not forget Him whenever they were in trouble, "God has good plans for you and when it becomes difficult, you must look upon him and he will save you". Datelined Aflao Christians at Aflao ushered in the New Year with messages for change in attitude in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Rev. Father Emmanuel Kpodo, preaching the sermon at the Aflao Roman Catholic Border Church, said the greatest impediment to peace and tranquillity in the world is the inability of humanity to lead moral lives worthy of emulation. He advised Christians in particular to open up a new lease in their lives so as to ensure that the good things they expect were achieved. Bishop Thomas Leke, Founder and Leader of the Holy Ghost Fire Church, advised Christians to desist from circumventing rules and regulations made to ensure sanity in society. He said God was able to create the world because He did not deviate from His plans of doing and that Christ accomplished his Father's goal of cleansing mankind of his sins, though the process was painful. Similar messages were delivered at other Churches visited by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Thursday. Datelined Kumasi Prophet Daniel Twum-Barimah, General Overseer of the Asafo branch of the 12 Apostles Church in Kumasi, has called on Christians to take the Word of God with all the seriousness it deserves.

He called on Christians to do away with worldly things and work hard to raise their spiritual development.

Prophet Twum-Barimah, who was preaching at a watch-night service to usher in the New Year, urged Christians to be patriotic, honest and committed to the work of God.

Prophet Twum-Barimah, the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the 12 Apostles churches, advised the congregation to lead lives worthy of emulation.

He called on them to do things that would bring peace, love and unity as the country goes to the polls this year. Oguaa Methodist Church remembers first missionary Cape Coast, Jan. 1, GNA- The Bishop of the Cape Coast diocese of the Methodist Church, Right Reverend Isaac Quansah on New year's day, urged Christians to emulate the sacrifices made by the early missionaries through whose efforts the church was established in Ghana. He said a good Christian "must exhibit the element of sacrifice in every sphere of life in order to help win more people into Christianity". Rev. Quansah was preaching the sermon on New Year's day service at the Cape Coast Castle, in remembrance of Reverend Joseph Dunwell, the first British missionary who helped establish the Church in Cape Coast, in the then Gold Coast on January 1, 1835.

Rev. Dunwell, who died in June the same year at the age of 28, was also instrumental in the establishment of the first schools within the Cape Coast castle.

Reverend Quansah said even though the early missionaries knew that "death awaited them in a strange country", they did not relent in their efforts and desire to spread the good news, which culminated in the establishment of the church. He charged members of the church, especially nominal Christians, to rededicate themselves to quality service, especially in the context of evangelism to win more souls. Mr. William Thompson, an administrator of the church who gave a brief history on the establishment of the church in the country, said two other missionaries who followed Rev. Dunwell, in 1836 and 1837, both of them also very young, died within four and three months respectively, on arrival, because they could not withstand the weather conditions by then. He said a fourth missionary, Rev. Freeman, who arrived a year later, however stayed in the country for 52 years. Mr. Thompson also urged members of the church to move out of the church and spread the gospel. Some other churches in the township, also held services to mark New Year's day. Accra The Reverend Ameziah Aflah Armah, General Overseer of the Divine Healer's Church, in a New Year's message, said: " There should be no more excuses, let us all come together and build our nation. No one is too tired and weak that he cannot do something to support the government.'' He reminded Ghanaians to seek the welfare of this land and that they would experience same in their lives. The General Overseer noted that some Ghanaians were adamant to change, adding that without change there would never be progress and development. He, therefore, asked Ghanaians to change their attitude towards one another and accept changes that were currently taking place in the country.

He advised the government to continue to recognize the presence of the church in nation building saying many developed countries achieved total development through the efforts of churches.

Rev. Armah stressed the need for Ghanaians to live in unity and harmony to ensure peace.

"With the recent development in some parts of the country, we need to do away with violence and live with one another as brothers and sisters."

He also appealed to Ghanaians to show love and compassion to people living with HIV/AIDS and the weak in the society. Accra In a special interview with the GNA, Rev. Armah said the greatest challenge facing churches in the 21st Century was how to make the gospel relevant to current social, political, economic, cultural, environmental and spiritual needs of the people. Christians should be courageous to point out the bad deeds in society. Rev Armah criticized religious leaders who duped people through "miracles" and under the pretext of praying for church members to enable them to acquire visas and other fortunes. He advised political leaders especially the minority parties to continue to offer the government advice and play its part as "a responsible minority" in the country's governance. Rev. Armah called on both the minority and the Party in power to be tolerant to their "critical views and opinions" so that together they could confront the challenges that faced the nation in the collective effort towards socio-economic development. He said it was the Christians belief that Ghana would continue to live in peace and chart the course of national development. "We do believe that the coming year will see deepening of ties between the electorate and political groupings to ensure genuine democratic culture. "May the blessings of God be on us as we enter into a New Year to continue our nation-building and crown our efforts in 2004 and beyond", he said. Kumasi Politicians have been advised to desist from attacking personalities and political opponents in order to win more supporters for their parties during the political campaigns. Reverend Joseph K. Gyimah, Leader of the True Light of Christ Church who gave the advice, said the use of provocative language and attacks on political opponents did not only undermine the beauty of the country's democracy. Rev. Gyimah was preaching the sermon on at the Watch Night at the True Light of Christ Church, Abrepo, Kumasi. He made it clear that for any party to win an election, that party must address national issues and convince people about its manifesto. Rev. Gyimah said Ghana's democracy had witnessed significant growth and stability over the years "and it will be morally and divinely wrong, for any one to destroy the gains achieved". At the Trinity Foundation Ministry at Anwomaso, Reverend Samuel Odarnor, in-charge of the Ministry, called on pastors to do away with fear and be bold to present the true teachings of the gospel. He observed that the inability of most pastors to muster courage to preach the true word of God was making it difficult for Christianity to make the desired impact on society. "Preaching only what the congregation want to hear and not what actually pertains in the bible is wrong and unacceptable, since it misleads the people. ", he added. Rev. Odarnor reminded churches and pastors that it was more rewarding to speak the truth and have a few quality members that stray from the gospel to satisfy the whims and caprices of people, in order to have a large following in the church. In a new year message at the Gospel Revival Church of Christ, Sofoline, Kumasi, Bishop J.N.K. Boateng, Founder of the church, urged Ghanaians to disabuse their minds that the country could be developed solely on foreign aid, grants and support. He made it clear that no country had ever developed on foreign assistance, "since such foreign aid only come in to supplement what had already been initiated by the citizens themselves". Bishop Boateng, therefore, entreated Ghanaians to resolve to dedicate themselves more to hard work, to develop the country themselves. Delivering his New Year message at the Lord Brotherhood Church at South Suntreso, Kumasi, Primate S.K. Adofo, Spiritual Head of the church, called on leadership of the country to pledge what they could achieve. Primate Adofo stressed, "it's frustrating and demoralising when pledges and resolutions are made anyhow and eventually fail". Datelined Takoradi Reverend Sam Asiama-Koranteng, Takoradi District Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, called on Ghanaians to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ to enable them to overcome vices such as cheating, bribery, corruption and indiscipline. He was preaching at the Watch Night service at the Takoradi Trinity Presbyterian Church to usher in the New Year. Preaching on the theme, " You have never been this way before", Rev. Asiama-Koranteng said, for Ghanaians to continue to enjoy peace, especially during the forthcoming general elections, they must obey the tenets of Christianity. He said the people must also endeavour to be law abiding, foster unity and seek the welfare of their families. Reverend Asiama-Koranteng urged Christians to "unconditionally show love to non-Christians". At the Takoradi Bethel Methodist Church, The Very Rev. John Harvey-Ewusie, Superintendent Minister of the Church, preaching on "Let us run the race that lies ahead of us with determination", said Ghanaians needed to start the New Year with the Lord. He said the successes and failures and of last year should serve as a motivation for all. Rev. Harvey-Ewusie stressed that Ghanaians could overcome their problems only if they looked up to the Lord, adding that with Him, there is nothing like defeat or failure". He advised Ghanaians to leave behind all their negative thoughts, repent and forgive each other and face the coming years with hope. He urged workers to work hard to increase productivity and said the welfare of the country, should be their priority.

He advised parents who have neglected their responsibilities towards their children, spouse and their parents, to re-assess their position and change for the better.

Rev. Harvey-Ewusie advised politicians and supporters of the various political parties not to engage in any form of confrontation during the 2004 general elections. At the Flames of Glory Ministry International Church, the General Overseer, Rev. George Boachie-Darquah said Ghanaians should be grateful to God for seeing them through another difficult year.

He urged Ghanaians to continue to work hard and look up to God in whose hands lies the destiny of the country.

"Look up to God, for He will once again do exceedingly more than what we expect from Him", he said. Datelined Tema The Reverend Father Ernest Dugah of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church at Tema called on Ghanaians to enter the New Year with "positive attitudes" to ensure the progress of the nation.

Preaching the sermon to mark the beginning of the New Year, he said the nation belongs to us and not until we see the need to put a stop to negative attitudes, we would continue to remain static.

He, therefore, entreated Ghanaians to have the nation at heart and tackle their official work with dedication, commitment, eschew laziness, malingering and unproductive tendencies that were likely to erode the gains made.

Rev Fr. Dugah said since heaven helps those who help themselves Ghanaians must attach importance and seriousness to their work, put in their best for greater productivity in order to encourage and attract foreigners to invest for the economy to grow.

He said since Christ Jesus redeemed mankind from sins it follows that they show love towards one another and always treat neighbours the way they were expected to be treated.

He encouraged the privileged to offer material and financial support to the poor and the needy to make them feel part of society. Datelined Tema Rev Christian D. Ocloo, of the Presbyterian Church on Greenwich Meridian at the Watch Night service called on Ghanaians to always walk close to God in the New Year. Preaching the sermon "the blessing of God", Rev. Ocloo said the blessing of God should encompass all activities, especially the 2004, adding that through God's blessings, we should have peace during the political campaign this year, adding that 2004 elections should be peaceful. Rev Ocloo noted that God keeps his children to make them safe, so that they would have eternal security in their own lives. He called on Christians to worship God in sincerity, become obedient to him, so that all would enjoy peace. dateline Koforidua Koforidua, Dec. 31, GNA - The Anglican Bishop of Koforidua, the Right Reverend Francis Benjamin Quashie, has called on Ghanaians to pray for peace and also to do practical things to ensure that the virtue was attained as the country entered the new year, which was also an election year.

In a new year message, which was released at Koforidua on Wednesday, Bishop Quashie, also advised traditional rulers and politicians against pronouncements that might fun tribal sentiments and tension in the country.

Rev. Quashie urged all Christians to pray for God's guidance in exercising their franchise during this year's general election and support whoever would be elected to lead the country.

He asked Christians not to "allow the difficulties of 2003 to come between them and God" but to have faith that once God was in control of affairs there would be hope for a better future. datelined Ho Ho, Jan. 1, GNA - The Reverend Emmanuel Atieku of the Elorm Parish of the E.P. Church Ho-Bankoe on Wednesday said the country could attain prosperity in the new year provided all Ghanaians worked honestly towards national development. In a sermon to usher in the new year, Rev. Atieku said God's grace and love had never diminished but man had rather corrupted the role assigned to him by God for the realisation of the prosperity that flows from him (God). He said dishonesty in all spheres in the country has presented the people to enjoy the abundance of God's blessing. Rev Atieku said the message in Luke chapter 3: verses 10-14 was a call for honesty, kindness, contentment, fellow feeling and incorruptibility as necessary conditions for happiness. He said: "If we carry on in the new year as we did in the previous year things would be more difficult for us as God does not create hardship" adding God required humankind to work sincerely for prosperity. Rev. Nobel J. Tulasi, Pastor in charge of Jubilee International Churches and Ministries, Ho Branch, preaching on "Making the Most Of Every Opportunity", said prayers alone did not solve problems and that people must work and persevere to succeed in life. He said the world was a dynamic place and that people must change to suit changing situations since no matter ones pedigree and skills if one did not move along with time one was bound to fail. He advised politicians to be focused, plan for the people they lead and not waste time with empty promises. People trooped to the Churches and all the sermons were focused on attainment of peace in the country, goodwill and the prevalence of the spirit of forgiveness and prayers for peaceful elections. Datelined Konongo The Reverend Father Andrew Amoakohene-Tawiah, Parish Priest of Saint Mary's Sanctuary Buoho Grotto of the Konongo-Mampong diocese of the Catholic Church has called on Christians to desist from acts that retard progress and peace. He said as the nation enters a new year, Ghanaians especially Christians should do away with laziness, back-biting, hatred, lies, selfishness and other negative practices that retard progress. Preaching the sermon at the Sanctuary at Nkukua-Buoho in the Kwabre district to usher in the New Year, Rev. Amoakohene-Tawiah asked Christians to let success and progress be their guiding principles. "If we don't know where we are going this year, let God be our guide and he will lead us to his glory", the parish priest said. Speaking on the theme: "Mary Is Our Model", Rev. Amoakohene-Tawiah advised politicians to address issues and not personalities towards the general elections this year.

"We all need to unite to ensure peaceful elections devoid of rancour, mudslinging and insults", he said.

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