Ghana celebrating 40 years of Lutheranism

( [email protected] ) Mar 25, 2004 03:35 PM EST

This year marks the 40-year anniversary for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana (ELCG). As part of the celebration, Gerald Kieshnick, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) is on a three-day official visit to Ghana from March 25-28, 2004. The visit will be the first of its kind by a head of the largest protestant church worldwide.

Commenting on the ELCG forty-year journey of faith and the first visit of the head of the LCMS to Ghana, ELCG President Paul Fynn said the Lord had been over generous to the church by helping the members to preach the gospel, feed the hungry, build schools and heal the sick. "My song of prayer is taken from Psalm 40:5. ‘You have done many things for us, Oh Lord our God. There is no one like you! You have made many wonderful plans for us. I could never speak of them all - their number is so great’.”

It was 1737 when a team of Lutherans including a mulatto was sent to the then Gold Coast to explore the possibility of winning souls for Christ. Their efforts, however, yielded no fruit since all the trailblazers lost their lives. The death of these pioneers discouraged other Lutherans from coming to the country. Thirty years later, in 1767, a second batch of Lutheran missionaries went but was met by unfriendly and hostile tropical weather and stinging mosquitoes. Again, there were no survivors.

However, the attainment of independence for Ghana was a blessing in disguise to the Lutheran Church. In 1957, a Ghanaian pastor, Rev. Kwame Asante of the AME Church appealed to two Lutheran American pastors in Nigeria to come and open a branch of the church in Ghana. They accepted to Pastor Asante's request and in 1958, the two visited Ghana to start the church with a few members, including Nigerians. Six years later, the church was officially registered on August 4, 1964 under the Trustees Incorparation Act of 1962, and in doing so joined the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

Currently, the ELCG is a member of the Christian Council of Ghana, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches. It has 30 Ghanaian pastors, 50 evangelists, 600 lay leaders and 5 American missionaries in Ghana.

Apart from its missionary work in Ghana, the ELCG has been able to open branches of the church in Uganda, Benin, Togo, and Cote d'Ivoire. In Uganda, the ELCG has 40 preaching stations and over 5,000 members. Pastors and evangelists from these countries are trained at the ELCG Seminary at the Awudome Estate in Accra.

After 40 years of the faith pilgrimage of Ghanaian Lutherans through storms, tribulations and trials, the ELCG gave thanks to God for the many spiritual and material blessings He’s given to them.