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02.03.2006 General News

Anglican Cathedral in Sekondi still closed

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Sekondi, March 26-GNA-Worshippers of the Saint Andrew the Apostle Anglican Cathedral at Sekondi could not turn up for worship on Sunday because their Cathedral is still closed. A visit by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) to the Cathedral revealed that apart from a few policemen who were on guard duty at the church, the entire place looks deserted.

The Western Regional Security Council (REGSEC) closed down the Cathedral on March 18 in anticipation of violence and the destruction of lives and property at the Cathedral due to the decision of Rev. John K. Otoo, Anglican Bishop of Sekondi to hold his first mass there on March 19. The closure, which stops all church activities from taking place 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 indicated 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.

Briefing the media last Sunday, the Deputy Western Regional Commander Police Commander R. M. Azu, who led the over 70 policemen to the Cathedral said their presence was meant to prevent any clashes between the members and protect lives. He however, 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 was restored.

The crisis started after the Synod of Tarkwa on January 10 2004, which elected Rev. Otoo as Bishop of the Sekondi Diocese. It was alleged that his election did not meet the quorum required by the churches 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.