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30.07.2004 Regional News

Pastors urged to comment fearlessly on governance

By GNA

Accra, July 30, GNA- Major Courage Quashigah (Rtd), Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Friday called on the clergy to speak fearlessly on national issues and challenge the Government when it deviates. "Speak to us fearlessly like the old prophets and put us back on the right path when we stray," he said.

Major Quashigah was speaking at the opening of the 24th World Alliance of Reform Churches (WARC) General Council Conference jointly hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana (EPC).

He said the church must serve as regulators of societal behaviour and be as vociferous in criticising deviant behaviour.

The two-week conference on the theme: "That All May Have Life in Fullness", is being attended by over 1,000 delegates from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.

Major Quashigah said prophecy was still a major function of the church, but it must be used as a tool to fearlessly condemn the wrong deeds of governments and guide leaders of nations.

He referred to the Biblical John the Baptist, saying, "The sins of oppression, cruelty and dehumanisation are things which must be condemned by the church vehemently and their consequences clearly and unmistakably proclaimed fearlessly like John the Baptist did to the peril of his own life."

He said fullness of life could only be possible if people led their lives in fulfilment of the words of God.

Political power, he said, was given to governments by the people to ensure that their respective governments put measures in place to ensure fullness of life for the people.

Major Quashigah noted that people in government had often strayed, being led by their own selfish desires and ambitions to pursue ideologies, which were not in consonance with the purpose of God. "Such ideologies are "ipso facto" and direct insult to God. Democratic government must fulfil the scriptures by ensuring fullness of life for the people and for that reason the church and the government cannot and should not be competitors. We compliment each other as moral propagators and development partners."

He said it was only through this complimentary approach to governance that "we can save the environment, check violence, eradicate poverty, hunger and disease and create the right atmosphere in which our children can discover new opportunities that will bring some light into our lives."

The Minister therefore urged pastors not to remain on the fence as far as national issues were concerned.

"Sometimes in order that we may be free to minister our people, in order that somehow we may remain in control of our institutions and buildings, we Christians are tempted to sit on the fence." He said such a tendency portrayed the church as a competitor of the government instead of complimenting government's efforts at addressing national issues.

"The socio-economic and political challenges confronting our nations today demand that all people of the world including religious and political leaders act in concert to respond to the issues and problems hindering our progress and accelerated development." In a sermon, Rev. Choan-Seng Song, President of the Council said the current state of anxiety, fear and horror in the world was due to greed, hatred and selfishness.

"This is the time when Christians must exhibit the love of Christ shown them and emulate it to attract others to Christ," he said.

Rev. Song who spoke on the topic: "Life in Fullness", called on Christians to live exemplary lives that encourage forgiveness, healing and reconciliation to help reconcile the world to God.

He further urged Christians to strive for God's will on earth and practice the reign of God in their communities, instead of struggling to speak in tongues.

"As reformed Christians you must know that it is the Spirit of God that possesses you and not you possessing God's Spirit," he said. He cautioned evangelists who indirectly sow seeds of discord among their congregations by preaching hatred and discrimination, be it race, religion, gender or class, to be careful, since such behaviour only created conflicts.

Rev. Song challenged Christians to uphold human rights and protest against abuses, since "God in his wisdom gave each living creature one right or the other that needs to be respected by others". He stated that mankind would experience life in fullness when the world began to recognise each other's role and complement such roles, while making love the key to better relationship. 30 July 04

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