In 1955 George Thompson, a Ghanaian, became acquainted with Mennonites at a YMCA World Convention in Europe. This resulted in his spending some months with Quintus Leatherman, a Mennonite missionary in London. On 4 January 1956, he was baptized and at his request was commissioned to begin a Mennonite church in Ghana.
The Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (Mennonite Church) undertook the support of this program and in 1957 sent four missionaries to assist Thompson in the development of a church. They found small groups meeting for services in Accra, the capital, and in several nearby villages. Expansion came through the requests of the people for schools in their villages. If they agreed to allow the teacher to conduct church services on Sunday and if no other denomination seemed to be working in that village, their request was granted. George Thompson left the Mennonite church in 1958 and S. Jay Hostetler, one of the missionaries, assumed leadership. The church was received as a member of the Ghana Christian Council in June 1959. It continued to expand in more of the villages, but the group that met in Accra died out.
Before the missionaries came, Thompson had begun using the Home Bible Studies, a correspondence course of the Mennonite Church (MC) in the United States. Over the years this was carried on by missionaries and was handled in 1987 by a Ghanaian. The church leaders as well as people from all over Ghana had taken these courses. It was also used in prisons.
In 1961 a missionary nurse, Anna Marie Kurtz, began operating a government clinic in Amasaman, a village 15 miles north of Accra in an area where there are several Mennonite congregations. She serves the churches as well as the sick of the community. In another area 150 miles northeast of Accra where there were other small congregations, Ellen Moyer, a Canadian missionary physician, with help of her husband, Carson, opened a clinic in 1961. Carson gave leadership to the church in the area.
As well as the local national teachers who served as church leaders, some missionaries who gave leadership were Donald Nofziger and Laurence Horst. A mimeographed, informal newsletter, Mennonite News Herald, was published between 1977 and 1984. The church for many years has been active in the movement for church unity.
Membership in 1986 was 800 in 17 congregations in five language groups. The church was autonomous with three ministers, four licensed ministers, 13 lay pastors and three catechists. It continued to relate to the Mennonite Board of Missions and received a small monthly subsidy from it. One missionary, Anna Marie Kurtz was present on a supportive role.
In 2003 there were 26 congregations with 4100 members.
Hostetler, S. Jay. The Mennonite Church in Ghana, 1957-1964: Memoirs of S. Jay Hostetler. Elkhart, IN: Mennonite Board of Missions, circa 1979.
Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 82-84.
Mennonite World Handbook Supplement. Strasbourg, France, and Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1984: 12.
Mennonite World Conference. "MWC - 2003 Africa Mennonite & Brethren in Christ Churches:." Accessed 27 January 2006. <http://www.mwc-cmm.org/Directory/africa.html>.
|Author(s)||Harold S. Bender|
Cite This Article
Bender, Harold S. and Erma Grove. "Ghana Mennonite Church." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 30 Jun 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ghana_Mennonite_Church&oldid=87826.
Bender, Harold S. and Erma Grove. (1987). Ghana Mennonite Church. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 June 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ghana_Mennonite_Church&oldid=87826.
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