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19.03.2006 Regional News

REGSEC closes down Anglican Cathedral in Sekondi


Sekondi, March 19, GNA-The Western Regional Security Council (REGSEC) has closed down the Saint Andrew the Apostle Anglican Cathedral at Sekondi. The closure, which stops all church activities from taking place on Sunday, March 19, follows a letter written by Mr. Seth Apawudza, an assistant director of the Regional Coordinating Council informing the Bishop and other church leaders of the decision of REGSEC. According to the letter, intelligence report indicates that there would be a clash between supporters of Right Reverend Bishop John K. Otoo who intends to celebrate his maiden mass at the Cathedral and some members of the church who are opposed to the Bishop. It said to forestall any such clash or any likely disturbance of the peace and stability of the Metropolis, the Cathedral is closed for service on March 19.

The letter therefore directed all parishioners who worship at the Cathedral to do so at other Anglican branches in the metropolis. In related development, over 70-armed Policemen have surrounded the Saint Andrew the Apostle Anglican Cathedral at Sekondi to protect life and property.

Briefing the media, the Deputy Western Regional Commander Police Commander R. M. Azu, who led the troops said the Police presence was meant to prevent any clashes between the members and protect lives. He said religious and community conflicts was having a serious effect on the resources and personnel of the Police and therefore advised the youth to avoid getting involved. He said the youth of the Cathedral who had also formed human chains in groups around the church and main roads leading to the church have been advised to exercise restraint.

Mr. Azu said the Police presence would be maintained till order is restored. Some worshippers who did not know about the closure and came to worship became stranded, while the youth who had gathered near the church hooted and heckled those they suspected to be loyalists of the new Bishop.

Mr. Ike Kofi Biney a London-based member who said he had been with the church for over 50 years, but travelled to London and arrived in Ghana on Friday and went to worship have called for unity of purpose and peace in the interest of propagating the gospel. He said without it, the church would be condemning itself and cultivating a negative image. Mr. Cosmas Brew Daniels, youth leader said the youth of the church stand for nothing but the truth and "we will continue to fight for Christ in the best interest of the church. The youth, dressed in white T-shirts and carrying placards and a brass band have converged at the church premises and taken positions. Some of the placards read, "our church is not a military training grounds", a good leader always unites and not divides," among others.

The residence of Rev. Canon Robert Bentil, at the Saint Andrew the Apostle Anglican Cathedral at Sekondi, was soiled with large quantities of human faeces this morning. The Rev. Bentil had fled the Cathedral for safety. The crisis started after the Synod of Tarkwa on January 10 2004 elected Bishop Otoo as Bishop of the Sekondi Diocese. It was alleged that his election did not meet the quorum required by the churche's constitution but based on convention, the leadership of the church went ahead and consecrated him. Some members of the Saint Andrew the Apostle Anglican Cathedral at Sekondi had already stated that they had renounced their membership with the Anglican Church in Ghana and in the West African province and would not recognise Bishop Otoo, neither would they allow him to use the Cathedral for mass.