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Pentecostalism in Ghana: An African Reformation


Jones Darkwa Amanor, Th.D.

Academic Dean, International Theological Seminary, Accra, Ghana


Note: Links for the endnotes do not work so this article is also available as pdf.




The earliest contact between Ghana and Christian Missionaries was the late 15th century when Roman Catholic missionaries accompanied the earliest Portuguese traders to the Gold Coast. A succession of missionary societies from Western Europe subsequently lived and worked to impact life in the nation they christened the Gold Coast because of the abundance of the precious mineral that was discovered.


The impact of the combined missionary effort was to result in the population of Ghana, which, by the 20th century, was largely “Christian”.[i] The extent to which the population was truly Christianized has, however, come under some scrutiny since the discovery, by the Ghana Evangelism Committee, that nominalism is the greatest problem of Christianity in Ghana.[ii]


The western worldview, which informed the classification of African Traditional Religion, by the missionaries, as heathen, pagan, primitive, unscientific and the superstitious beliefs of uncultured people, is largely blamable.  In the early days of the introduction of Christianity to the Gold Coast, to convert to the Christian faith meant a complete denigration of one’s past to accept a God who was largely alien to the culture of the African past.


The result was that many natives who were attracted to Christianity became Christians only in the mind but not in the heart.  When confronted with the need to find solutions to the existential needs of life, they found their religion powerless to help. Missionaries working for the historic Churches had occasion to lament on discovering the patronage of church members of anti-witchcraft cult shrines, which rose in the depression of the 1900s.[iii]

The Culture of a people helps in the formation of a sense of individual and corporate identity.[iv] Walls has explained how In the West, where the missionaries came from, Christianity from the beginning recognized the need both to build bridges between itself and the cultural milieu of the people it sought to win; and the need to challenge aspects of that milieu that came under the judgment of the gospel. He has explained further why Christianity needed both to make itself at home and relevant to the cultural context, associating Christians with the particulars of their culture and group.[v]

He has, however, shown, on the other hand, how in the non-western world evangelization was aimed rather at transforming the life of the individual and the society in such a way that they would feel out of step with their own society[vi] This was a process that was fraught with tension, according to Walls, and responsible for the largely nominal Christianity of the converts to the missionary Churches.


The western missionaries failed to see in African religious thought and imagination any spiritual content and any preparation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and, in the end, presented a God to the natives who was ‘alien.’ The inadequacy of this approach of suppressing traditional African culture and religion was soon highlighted by nominalism in the historic Churches and later by separatism that became the feature of Church life from the early 1900s.

The separatists were indigenous people who recognized and gave place to those elements of African Traditional Religion which could serve as vehicles for the propagation of the Gospel. They represented a desire for a church less alien, which takes the traditional background seriously”;[vii] and a desire for a sense of continuity with their past, implying that without such continuity there can be no adequate sense of identity[viii]. They represented a revolt against materialism and shallow religiosity; against cultural passivity and consumerism; and against a religion that is purely internal, inward looking and oblivious to community.[ix]

According to Chatfield, however, the rise of the separatists cannot be accounted for purely in terms of reaction to external factors. They were often motivated by a profound sense of call, often experienced in dreams or visions, and in this sense it could be argued that their activity was initiated by God.[x]


The Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, of which they served as the precursors, and which were initially on the fringes of society, has now moved into the center, crossing into every branch of the Church in Ghana. They have given a new face of Christianity to the country, which is outwardly expressive, inwardly liberating, and which provides adequate identity of a faith that can be truly Christian and truly African and which appropriately responds to the existential needs of the African.   


Western Missionaries in Ghana


Western European interest in the land they christened the “Gold Coast,” due to the abundance of the precious mineral, was primarily trade. Trade in gold and later in human beings became foremost in their minds and consumed their energies. The propagation of the Gospel, which was one of the reasons for their journey to Africa, was for a long time neglected and showed little success.


The earliest attempt to make any impact in Gospel propagation was by some Portuguese Roman Catholic monks in the 15th century. They are believed to have established a school at Elmina in 1529. They had so little success that by the beginning of the 18th century, there was hardly any trace of Christianity in the Gold Coast. These attempts were later to be followed by the Church of England Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG). Following at the heels of the SPG was the Basel Evangelical Missionary Society. The Wesleyan Christian Mission followed and was also followed by the Bremen Mission. The seeds that were sowed by these gallant men and women from Europe are what have today produced a demography of Ghana, which is predominantly Christian.


Motivation for Missionary Work in Africa


Towards the end of the 17th century, a movement known as Pietism (from Latin “pious” meaning devout) began in Germany. Tracing its roots, Peter A. Schweizer[xi] points to a German theologian by name Philipp Jakop Spener (1635-1705). According to Schweizer, Pietism took inspiration from Spener’s book Pious Desires written in 1675. Spener was a reformer of the reformed Lutheran congregation to which he belonged. He castigated the retained Episcopal hierarchy of his Church and favored a greater involvement of the laity in Church government. This brought his movement closer to the mainstream Protestantism of Zwingli and Calvin, which practiced a rigorous decentralization and democratization of Church government which had by this time spread from Switzerland to France, to the Netherlands, Scotland and North America.[xii]


The Pietistic Movement opposed the cynical rationalism, the liberal pantheism and the outright atheism of the Era of Enlightenment.[xiii] To demonstrate the authenticity of the Christian faith and the reality of their Christian experience, they aimed at expressing their Christian convictions through positive deeds and exemplary life styles, including the spread of the Gospel to other countries.


The Pietists believed in the inherent goodness of all people regardless of race. They, however, also believed that such inherent qualities did not surface by themselves but had to be brought forth and harnessed through persistent educational efforts. Their hands were strengthened by the American Constitution of 1776, which recognized the rights of humans, as well as the egalitarian ideas of the French Revolution of 1789 (though the anti-Christ aspects of the revolution were abhorred).


The Pietists, who at this time crossed the spectrum of Protestant denominations (Lutheran, Anglican, Wesleyan, Calvinistic), were at odds with many aspects of the Church politics of their time. They hit very hard against what they considered to be an unnecessary emphasis on dogmatism and formalism in the Church when pressing needs of society such as slavery, poverty and social injustices, in general, were left unattended to by the Church. They did their work with such zeal that only an enormous faith in the fact of God’s call could sustain it. This belief explains their relentless perseverance in pursuing missionary goals, despite so many setbacks.


The freedom of slaves and the reintegration of former slaves into societies of their origin bundled the spiritual energies of the Pietists into an organizational network all over Europe and North America. This was helped by the passing of the law against selling slaves (though keeping them was allowed) by the British Parliament in 1807, and the formation of Bible reading clubs, as well as, the formation of interdenominational missionary societies in Europe, all emphasizing the need for missionary work.


It is, therefore, the determination of the Pietists, other Protestant groups and Protestant countries and, sporadically, Catholic countries, to do humanitarian work, especially, the spiritual uplifting of indigenous populations in the non-western world, which motivated European missionaries to leave the comfort of their countries to venture into unfamiliar lands of wild animals and insects to live among unfamiliar people, sometime savage, to do missionary work. 


Roman Catholic Missionaries in Ghana[xiv]


The fruits of Roman Catholicism which is seen in Ghana today is as a result of the seeds sowed by the second Roman Catholic Church’s attempt at evangelization by two products of the Society of Africa Missions (SMA), Father Eugene Morat and Augustus Morean who arrived in Elmina in 1880. An earlier first attempt in the 15th century by chaplains who accompanied the Portuguese explorers had very little to show in terms of natives evangelized for about four centuries. The only signs of Roman Catholicism that survived the Portuguese era were a small group of Efutus (tribe along the coast) and their chief, probably converted by Augustinian Fathers in 1572, and an unrecognizable stump of a statue of St. Anthony in Padua in Elmina 


However, when the SMA arrived in the Gold Coast, the Protestant missionaries who preceded them were already evangelizing around Accra, Akropong-Akwapim, Cape Coast, and Keta (towns along the coast of Ghana and further inland), and making converts in the Gold Coast colony. And since the SMA had come at the invitation of Sir James Marshall, (the then Governor of the God Coast) who had himself converted to Roman Catholicism, it was allowed to freely work and evangelize in the colony. In 1883, the Sisters of our Lady of Apostles Society also arrived in Elmina to take care of the education of girls side by side the SMA. By 1901, the Church had spread from Elmina to over forty townships. In addition, the church was running 17 schools with about 1700 boys and girls. In the same year, the Prefecture of Gold Coast was raised to a Vicariate with Father Maximillan Albert as its first Bishop supervising 18 priests, 8 sisters and about 40 teachers from his seat in Cape Coast.


In 1906, the White Fathers entered the Northern Prefecture of Gold Coast from Ouagadougou (now Burkina Faso) to start missionary work in the northern part of the Gold Coast. Not long after their arrival, they showed signs of success among the Dagartis of Jirapa, Nandom and other towns in the north.


The period immediately preceding the beginning of the First World War saw a slowing down of missionary expansion of the Roman Catholic Church. That was because a number of her missionaries were of German descent and were held in suspicion by the British Colonialists. After 40 years of missionary work, Bishop Ignace Hummel of the SMA, the third Vicar Apostolic of the Gold Coast gave the following picture of the strength of the Catholic Church to the congregation for the propagation of the faith in Rome: 35,000 baptized, 25000 catechumens, 10 parishes, 364 out stations chapels, 22 priests, 301 chapels, 22 priests, 13 sisters and 85 schools with 4,734 boys and girls on roll. In 1922 father Anastasius Odaye Dogli was ordained the first indigenous priests from Gold Coast. John Kojo Amissah, on the eve of Ghana’s independence also became the first indigenous priest to be elevated to the rank of a Bishop.


The Moravian Missionaries in Ghana[xv]


After the apparently unsuccessful attempt by the earliest Roman Catholic missionaries in gaining a foothold in the colonies, the Moravian United Brethren Mission sent out two missionaries in what was to become the first serious attempt at evangelizing the natives. In the 1730s, two Moravian missionaries Chretein Protten and Henrich Huckuff arrived in the Gold Coast. Protten was actually of both Dane and Ghanaian descent. Born in 1715

in Christianborg to a Dane father and a Ghanaian mother, he was educated first in Christianborg castle and later in Denmark. Protten worked till his death in 1769 but did not win many converts.


In 1742, another mulatto, Jocabus Elisa Johannes Capitein was sent by Moravians in Holland to Ghana. Born to an Ivorian mother, he was sent as a young boy to Holland and educated at the University of Leyden. He became the first African to be ordained into the

Protestant priesthood since the Reformation. In Ghana, he started two schools in Elmina
in 1742 for mulattos and one for black natives but both collapsed after his death in 1747.


Anglican Missionaries in Ghana


Next to follow the Moravians to the Gold Coast was the Church of England Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In 1754, the Society sent Rev. Thomson to Cape Coast. After five years of hard work with little success, he returned home an invalid. What he is best remembered for, nevertheless, was the sponsoring of three Cape Coast boys to be educated in Britain. Unfortunately, two of them died in Britain, leaving Philip Quacoe the only survivor. He successfully completed his education in Britain and returned a fully ordained priest of the Anglican Church to work in Cape Coast in 1766. He also could not convert many natives in cape Coast where he worked till his death in 1816. His main contribution, however, was the school he established and ran till his death.


From 1828, the representative of the Colonial Administration revived the school and was continued by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel till their activities ceased in Ghana in 1904.


Basel Missionaries in Ghana


The lack of success of earlier missionaries in the Gold Coast was evidenced by the fact that by the beginning of the 19th century, very little headway had been made in the evangelization of natives. It was only from 1828 onwards when the Basel Evangelical Missionary Society sent out a team of four missionaries to Christianborg[xvi] in Accra that Christianity and western education could be said to have begun in southern Ghana. The Basel Evangelical Missionary Society was invited by the Danish Government to Christianborg to help meet the educational and spiritual needs of the mixture of mulatto and white population that was growing in Christianborg. The interest of the Basel missionaries, however, seemed to be in the indigenous population rather than on the issues of European soldiers’ promiscuity. A compromise on the two interests, nevertheless, became a necessary condition for permission by the Danish authority for inland work.


In 1828, four missionaries arrived in Christianborg from the Basel Missionary Society in Basel, Switzerland. They were Karl F. Salbad, Gotlieb Holzwarth and Johannes Henke all German and Johannes Schmidt a Swiss. The slowness of communication in the 19th century delayed the relay of the information concerning their early deaths so much so that before news of the death of the last one reached the headquarters of the Mission Board, a decision had been made to send reinforcement.


In 1832, three others arrived in the Gold Coast. They were Andreas Riss and Peter Jager from Denmark and Christian Friedrich Heinze, a medical doctor from Saxony. Dr. Jeinze was to study the greatest risk to survival of western missionaries – tropical diseases – and make recommendations for preventive measures. Incidentally, he was the first of his team to die, leaving the two Danes. Not too long after that, Riss became a lone Basel missionary when he buried Jager after his death through illness. He himself nearly followed if a native herbalist who saw him in his initial convulsions had not saved him. Undaunted Riss penetrated inland and built the Basel Mission’s first inland station in the Gold Coast at Akropong, the capital of the Akwapim State. By dint of Riss’ hard work, in Akropong, it soon grew to become the nerve center of the Basel Mission in Ghana.

With the help of freed slaves from Jamaica who were brought in on the advice of Riss, the Basel Missionary work began expanding to nearby towns such as Aburi and in eight years positive signs of growth had begun appearing. At this time, about forty native Christians, besides the West Indians were gathering for service both at Akropong and at Aburi. From the 1850s, considerable progress was achieved in the spread of the Christian faith far inland to Kwahu, Akim and Asante[xvii] to the extent that in 1869 the total membership of the Basel Mission was 1,851 from 8 mission districts and 24 congregations.


This great achievement was through the additional effort of later missionaries like Ramseyer and his wife and a host of native who were trained and ordained catechists and priests of the Basel Mission. Chief among these were Mohenu, a former fetish priest, Boakye, Reindorf (a mulatto and a historian), Ablo, Quist, P. Hall, Koranteng and Date, In 1917, after the 1st World War, Britain’s, suspicious of the Basel Missionaries resulted in the replacement of the Basel missionaries by Scottish ones. This became significant in setting the stage for the missionary work began by the Basel Mission to become the Presbyterian Church of the Gold Coast


Bremen Missionaries in Ghana


Another Missionary Society, which worked in close collaboration with the Basel Evangelical Missionary Society, was the Bremen Mission (Northern German Lutheran Mission.)


From 1847 onwards, Bremen missionaries settled and worked among the Ewes at the eastern side of the Gold Coast, an area, which covered what was later to be, designated “Dutch Togoland.” Out of the Bremen Mission emerged the present day Evangelical Presbyterian Church. This has lately been split into “The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana” and “The Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana.”


Wesleyan Missionaries in Ghana


The introduction of Methodism was the second most serious attempt at evangelizing the natives of Gold Coast, the first one being the efforts of the Basel Evangelical Society. The Roman Catholic had made an unsuccessful attempt earlier while the Bremen effort began sometime after the Methodists had began work in earnest.


Before the Wesleyan Missionary society sent the first mission to the Gold Coast, what was later to become the Methodist Church of Ghana had began as a Bible Band called the “Society for the promoting of Christian knowledge” by two natives, Joseph Smith and William de Graft at Cape Coast. The first missionary sent by Wesleyan Missionary Society in London to the Gold Coast was Joseph Dunwell. He arrived in the Gold Coast in 1835 and died the same year after some tremendous work. Joseph Smith and William de Graft continued the work until two more missionary couples arrived. They also died shortly after their arrival but did work hard while they lasted.


The successor, Thomas Birth Freeman, who was a mulatto, was the person who pushed Wesleyan missionary work from Cape coast and its surroundings far inland, reaching as far as to Asante. No wander he is referred to as the father of Methodism in Ghana. The death of his wife only 6 months did not deter him. His warm heart for Africans caused him to push for the expansion of the Church in Ghana. In 1838, a chapel was built in Cape Coast and within two years, there had been additional hundred members.


Through one of the graduates of the Cape Coast castle schools by name James Hayford, Methodism reached the Asante State. After graduation, he worked for the British Administration in Kumasi. He first began by holding services with the Fantes in Kumase. Freeman used this contact to open a mission station for the whole of the Asante State. Political antagonism between the British and the Asantes caused a suspension of activities in 1872, which was later, resumed. By 1900, the mission in Kumasi had become fully established and enlarged with a European missionary station there.


 By 1919, Methodist congregations were found in most towns in the south as well as in the north towards Asante and Brong States. With much difficulty due to opposition from the Chief Commissioner, Wesleyan expansion began in 1919 and reached parts of northern Ghana. Conversion to the Methodist church was given a great boost by the evangelistic preaching of two African Evangelists, William Harris who preached along the coast from Liberia through Ivory Coast to Ghana, and Samson Oppong who also preached in Asante and Brong.


Impact of Missionary Activities on Life in Ghana


Though the propagation of the Gospel and the promotion of Christianity through the introduction of western education were the foremost reason for the arrival of European Missionaries to the shores of the Gold Coast, their activities brought improvement of general life of the natives in the country.


This desire to help bring about improvements in general living conditions among natives was borne out of the desire to compensate Africa for the raping of the African continent of its natural and human resources. An awakening began and spread through Europe and North America in the century whose objective was the emancipation and re-integration of former slaves. It was deemed logical that freed slaves be settled on the continent of their origin. Naturally, Protestants who had raised questions about the morality of slavery in Europe and North America lent the greatest support to this endeavor.


This Protestant support was very crucial because powers that had already established themselves on the continent pursued essentially commercial interests. A thriving trade, which involved battering guns and schnapps against gold and slaves, boomed between European merchants in league with home governments and natives.


The many Missionary Societies which established missions in the Gold Coast saw to the promotion of not only Christianity through western education but also agriculture, trade, linguistic studies, architecture and general improved standards of living.




Next to the spreading of the Gospel, the prime goal of missionary activity was education. The hostility of the climate, which exposed them to the vagaries of tropical diseases resulting in early deaths, made the training of natives imperative. Though the Danish Government which first invited the Basel Mission to the country mandated them to provide spiritual and secular education to only the Europeans and mulatto populations at Christianborg, their pietistic ideas inspired them to embrace the indigenous population as well.


Wherever they went, missionaries always built a mission station with a chapel and a school. Bright youngsters were also taken as boy-servants to enable them become thoroughly acquainted with European manners. The most talented among were sent for higher education. This practice laid the foundation for boarding schools in the Gold Coast.


The tragedy of premature deaths interrupted the educational program on more than a few occasions. Nevertheless, hard work on the part of the missionaries made them the pioneers of primary as well as technical and teacher training in Ghana. The pietistic discipline and education sowed the seeds of what produced leaders of Africa’s wave of independence in the 1960s.


The first Mission School to be established was what later developed to become the famous Mfantsipim School by the Wesleyan Mission. This was to be followed by Adisadel College by the Church of England, St. Augustine’s College by the Roman Catholic Mission and the Odumase Krobo Secondary School by the Basel Mission. The Basel Mission also established a teacher-training college at Akropong while the Wesleyans built one in Kumasi. The Basel Mission, particularly, paid attention to technical and industrial training and set up industrial institutions and workshops to train carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, shoemakers, builders, chariot makers and locksmiths.


Linguistic Studies


As soon as missionary work began, knowledge of the local languages was considered essential. In spite of the difficulties of analyzing a completely unfamiliar language, the first major attempt at scientifically analyzing the local languages and giving them literary expression was made. In no time, phonetic alphabets of Twi and Ga[xviii] had been constructed. Next came the compiling of dictionaries, grammars and textbooks and ultimately, the translation of the Scriptures into Twi and Ga. By this stage, twenty long years of intensive work had passed.


These efforts became pivotal in the spreading of the Gospel. The scientific study of the local languages also afforded the academic world to examine the religious, social and moral concepts prevailing in this part of Africa. Furthermore, these linguistic achievements prepared the ground for indigenous scientific disciplines. As a result, in 1889, the first history by an African, ever written for an African country, was completed by Carl Reindorf, a mulatto who was trained to become a missionary and scholar.


Another important contributor to the linguistic development of Ghanaian languages was Johannes Chrystaller, a German native and a missionary sent to the Gold Coast by the Basel Missionary Society. In the words of Smith, a historian of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Chrystaller’s work achieved three things: it raised the Twi language to a literary level and provided the basis for all later work in the language; it gave the first real insight into Akan religious, social and moral ideas; and it welded the expression of Akan Christian to the native language.


Agriculture and Trade


A major preoccupation of missionary societies in the Gold Coast was the promotion of agriculture and legitimate trade. The aim of the focus was threefold: Firstly, it was an attempt by the missionaries to promote other income-generating activity to discourage and end the trade in slaves. Secondly, it was to produce what the Basel Mission, for example, described as “an independent” active middle class of farmer-planters, and thirdly it was a means for the introduction of western civilization to the Gold Coast.


A first agricultural activity by the Basel Missionaries was the establishment of a botanical garden at Akropong. Crops that were initially cultivated included vegetables, banana, cotton, sugar cane and breadfruit trees. Even cocoa, which is, up till today, a major cash crop and foreign exchange earner, was first introduced to the country by the Basel Missionaries in 1857. Incidentally, their experimental farm as well as those established by natives with their help did not survive due to the weather, insects and the Ashanti invasions.


It was later to be established in Ghana as a major cash crop by Tetteh Quarshie,[xix] himself a trainee of the Basel missionaries. He was first trained as an apprentice blacksmith at the workshop at Christianborg and later as a toolmaker on the experimental mission farm where the failed trials of the earlier trials had taken place. In 1870-1876, he took up a blacksmith’s job on a cocoa plantation in Fernando Po and returned with five pods of the crop. He was successful in establishing an experimental plot on his farm at Mampong and from there, cocoa farms spread to the south first, and later to other parts of the country.


The Wesleyan missionaries are also known to have established plantations of cotton, coffee, olive trees, cinnamon, black pepper, mango and ginger in many southern towns. They also encouraged and assisted the natives to establish similar plantations. Both the Basel and Bremen missions were also known to have raised livestock though with little success.


The missionaries came to the country consumed with the desire to create prospects for the economic betterment of the indigenous population. The missionary program such as the building of Churches, schools, hospitals, processing plants and roads also required financing which could not be provided by the limited funds sent to them from mother organizations in Europe. Furthermore, missionaries needed to generate money locally to augment the meager allowances sent to them form Europe. As well, the converts who had also left their traditional environments to live in the Christian Communities needed jobs and funds for survival. These necessities fueled the eventual beginning of both internal and external trading.


The missions encouraged the production of commodities for export or for sale locally. The earliest exportable products were groundnut oil, palm and cotton. The Basel Mission founded the Basel Mission Trading Company (which later became United Trading Company, UTC[xx]) in 1859 for the promotion of export and import trade. This company refused to sell guns, gunpowder and liquor (products which fuelled the trade is slaves) and its main exports were palm kernel and palm oil.


This view of encouraging trade and commerce was what propelled the Basel Mission, in particular, to embark on the building of roads to be used by chariots, which were also made at their workshops. This contribution of the Missions helped in no small way in facilitating the transmission from a slave to a cash crop economy in the colony during the latter part of the 19th century.




When the missionaries ventured into the hinterlands of the colony, away from the protected castles along the coast, they first rented local houses to live in or built their own with local architecture. These were found to need improvements since they normally were erected over naked ground with mud walls reinforced by wooded fencing and grass roofing. Windows were not common and the only openings for ventilation were small openings made in the walls without any doors.


A Basel missionary by name Andreas Riis first began to build in a different style. His buildings consisted of a raised stone platform, walls of stones or mud bricks at the ground level and in some cases an upper level for living and sleeping. Their roofs were covered by wooden shingles to reduce humidity and insect infestation to which the grass roofs were prone.


The native population of Akropong where he started building in this style was so impressed with this that they named him “Osiadan” (Builder of houses). This new style of architecture was copied by the local population as well as the neatly arranged and well spaced out style of the mission townships or Salems established by the Missions for local converts who lived there to avoid going back to their “pagan past” and intermarrying among the non-converts.




As should naturally be expected, transportation through the forest at that pre-industrial time was very difficult. Major ways of communication between different parts consisted of footpaths and a few stretches of navigable rivers. The very humid climate was also unsuitable for bullocks and camels making humans the only available beasts of burden. Accordingly, early missionaries traveled on foot or where bad health prevented long journeys on foot, were carried in hammocks. Movement of people and goods from station to station, therefore, took several days.


An improvement on this was later to become the use of bicycles, which were introduced by some missionary doctors. The export trade, which sprung up even made the need for better and more efficient transport inevitable. The first roads into the hinterland were constructed by the Basel Mission. The Mission workers first began road construction by widening and straightening the existing footpaths that connected their stations. This made it easier to travel faster in the traditional porter-carried hammocks and to transport goods by carts and rolling barrels of palm oil, coffee or cocoa on the ground to the coast for export.


Health Care


The completely alien tropical climate posed the greatest source of health hazards to the missionaries. It is believed that by the end of the first twenty years of the Basel Mission’s presence in the Colony, for instance, half of the arrivals had died, including, one doctor who was sent to investigate into causes of the missionary deaths. At that time, since the advancement in medical science had not influenced tropical diseases, the missionaries described yellow fever, hepatitis, and malaria as tropical fever. A few of the missionaries also developed psychic disorders die to culture shock and disillusionment.


The earliest providers of health care for the missionaries were the health personnel in the castles along the coast. These were sent from Europe for the health needs of the colonial administrative staff, their native concubines and their mulatto children. A few also relied on herbalists some of whom saved some missionaries from dying from contracted diseases. After a long time, however, home missions sent doctors to the Colony. The clinics, which the doctors sent, by the Missions established became the basis for the development of a health delivery system for Ghana. Today, the Mission hospitals, some of which are still supported from partners in Europe and America, still play an important role in the health delivery system of Ghana.


Pentecostalism in Ghana


Though some sections of theological scholarship in Ghana attempt to group Pentecostalism in Ghana with general Protestantism as being Western missionary initiated,[xxi] the records, as have recently been set straight by Larbi,[xxii] indicate that Pentecostalism in Ghana had an indigenous origin. It is, however, true that though some of the missionary mainline church were suspicious of the Pentecostal stirrings in some of their members, some of the missionary Churches were greatly helped in their growth by the young Pentecostal movement.


This is borne out by the experience and contribution of Sampson Oppong, one of the Pentecostal pioneers in Ghana as has been captured by Kimble:


The Basel Mission regarded Oppong as a fetish priest and would not let him preach in their Churches. But the Methodists were less inclined to distrust an emotional revival, and were able to make use of the movement as a basis for more enduring evangelical work. The effects in Ashanti were so marked that the District Synod changed their plans, so that in 1924, their Wesleyan Training College was opened in Kumasi instead of in the colony, with financial support from Fanti Methodists.[xxiii]



Prophetism – The Precursor of Classical Pentecostalism in Ghana


A phenomenon, which has been referred to as Prophetism[xxiv] which led to the formation of Churches variously designated as African Initiated Churches, African Independent Churches, African Indigenous Churches, African Instituted Churches, all of them with the same acronym (AICs),[xxv] is an important landmark in the history of Christianity in Africa generally and in Ghana particularly.


Long before classical Pentecostalism (either indigenous or in collaboration with Western missionaries associated with Missions with links to Azusa Street) became formalized in Ghana, Pentecostal stirrings in some leading Prophetesses and Prophets[xxvi] had brought renewal to some parts of the country. Scholars are not in agreement as to the factors, which gave rise to this phenomenon in Africa in general and Ghana in particular.


While some attribute it to nationalistic feelings of self-expression and independence from Western missionaries which were ripe at a time when Africa thought she should be allowed by the Colonialists to manage her own affairs,[xxvii] others[xxviii] attribute it to the failure of orthodoxy in the historic Churches to recognize those elements of African Traditional Religion and culture which gave true identity to African Christians as well as the failure to test the spirits of gifted members of their flock and to utilize these gifts for the benefit of their Churches.


AICs – The African Reformation


The AICs have been phenomenal on the African Christian terrain. They seem to adequately fit the description of Anderson as the African Reformation.[xxix] Ogbu Kalu[xxx], an eminent African theological scholar, has identified a three-tier African response to the evangelization of the continent by Western Missionary Societies since the 19th century in agreement with Ojo.[xxxi] According to them, the first response dubbed Ethiopianism was the African elite’s protest against white domination in power and culture over the Church, which led to breakaways, which resulted in the founding of African Churches.

This was followed by the second response characterized by a “pneumatic challenge to white theology” in the mid-1920s. The Zionist Aladura prophets[xxxii] dressed in their flowing white robes were ingenious in their pneumatic use of the Scriptures, their innovative gender ideology, liturgy, emphasis on communality and incorporation of facets of primal religion and culture indicates Kalu. The 1970s also saw the rise of the third response – the Pentecostal and its renewal Charismatic movement, which have shown their distinctiveness as coming from without the Zionist Aladura tradition.

With the exception of Ethiopia, Christianity first came to most of sub-Saharan Africa through missionaries from Western Europe and North America, especially in the 19th century. These missionaries generally tried to set up local congregations and church organizations along the lines of those they were familiar with in their home countries, but by the end of the 19th century many African Christians had formed independent denominations in repudiation of the negative light in which the missionaries saw their desire to be true Christians and true Africans (i.e. to be Christians while maintaining their Africanness).

The Ethiopian Churches tended to follow the pattern of church organization bequeathed to them by the missionaries. Their desire for independence of control by foreign missionaries was only a reaction against the racism that came to the fore in the age of the new imperialism - roughly between 1870 and the beginning of the First World War.

The Zionist Aladura Churches traced their origin to the Christian Catholic Church in Zion (Zion City, Illinois) with an emphasis on divine healing and the building of holy cities. They were, however, later influenced by American Pentecostal missionaries, though the period of contact was short-lived, and within a few years they were on their own.[xxxiii]

Most of the expansion of Christianity in Africa in the 20th century, especially the latter half of the century, has been the result of the missionary efforts of the AICs. This accounts for the interest they have generated among theologians, anthropologists and sociologists, and it explains why they have become a subject of intense research in recent times.[xxxiv]

This is considered very important because since most members of AICs were poor, especially in the early days, and not exposed to much formal western education, they did not enjoy the same access to communications media that the foreign missionary bodies did, and so much of their early history and growth is unrecorded or poorly recorded. The much better documented activities of the foreign missionaries were like the tip of an iceberg - visible, but only a fraction of the total mass, which was hidden from public view.


3.1            The Forebears of AICs in Ghana


According to Annorbah-Sarpei, between 1900 and 1950, southern Ghana witnessed a strong and widespread prophetic and spiritual movement activities.[xxxv] The reasons for this development have been variously given as: an answer to the problem of anti-witchcraft cults (such as Tigare),[xxxvi] which had become unpopular because of syncretism,[xxxvii] and thus suppressed at the time, as an element in African nationalism against ethnic and cultural domination by the superiority-minded European,[xxxviii] or as the weakness of orthodoxy in the historic missionary Churches in remaining foreign in liturgy and in not meeting the African’s need of a more holistic salvation. [xxxix]


Emphasizing the widespread influence and the catalytic role the anti-witchcraft cults played in the rise of Prophetism in the country, Larbi quotes in his book Pentecostalism: The Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity (2000, Accra: Blessed Publications) an observation by Smith:


It is difficult to estimate the importance of these cults in the total religious life of the people: they are active in many parts of Ghana and from time to time a particular one has gained sudden fame in a specific area or, as in the case of Tigare, over the entire country. Their rise has coincided with the decline in influence of the national and traditional abosom shrines and with the rapid development of the country on western European lines. Pastors’ reports from 1922 to the present day mention the falling-away of Presbyterian Church members to take the medicine of one or other of them. In the nineteen forties the number of Christians lapsing to Tigare caused all the Mission Churches deep concern. Nkwantanan in Kwahu, the headquarters of the chief Tigare priest, became a place of pilgrimage attracting devotees, so-called pagans, literates and illiterates, Christians and Moslems, in thousands; special lories were hired for the last part of the journey up the scarp from Nkawkaw railway station. I recall a week-end at Abetifi in January 1944 when I noted a stream of over two thousand ‘pilgrims’ in one afternoon.[xl]  


Of the numerous prophets and prophetesses who pioneered and maintained AICs (also known as Spiritual Churches or Prophet-Healing Churches) in Ghana, three prominently stand out as the forebears of Pentecostalism in Ghana. They are Prophets William Wade Harris,[xli] John Swatson and Sampson Oppong.[xlii] 


Prophet William Wade Harris


One man preached the Gospel in West Africa for nine years and only converted 52. But another man preached the same Gospel just for two years and 120,000 adult West Africans believed and were baptized into Christianity.


This is the commentary that Howard made about Prophet Harris in West Africa, (No. 3776, 1989) when he compared the remarkable achievement of the prophet, within a very short period, and without any Western missionary financial support, in comparison with the achievement of a fellow African preacher, Philip Quacoe (1741-1816), an Anglican priest trained in Britain for Ghana (then Gold Coast), who depended on Western missionary finance and control.


The statement shows how phenomenal the ministry of this prophet was and how in Bediako’s view, he serves as “the paradigm both for non-Western and essentially primal apprehension of the Gospel and also a settled self-consciousness as an African uncluttered by Western missionary controls.”


Born a Kru[xliii] in Liberia, West Africa, he found himself in prison after being arrested for taking part in an insurrection by his people to protest against the repressive policies by the Americo-Liberia government towards the Krus. He is believed to have indicated that while he was in prison in 1910, certain events changed the course of his life and made him a prophet of God. These included a trance-visitation in which the Angel Gabriel became instrumental in his call into the ministry. Subsequent trance-visitations during his ministry were believed to have made possible meetings between him and Moses, Elijah and Angel Gabriel.[xliv]


Prophet Harris had a quite simple message, which was, essentially, based on the Bible as the Word of God. He preached a monotheistic religion that abhorred cult objects –amulets and charms - of the idolatrous old Religion. He peded men to leave their sins to serve the only God who is holy and good. He encouraged people to believe in Jesus, destroy their cult objects, be baptized and become members of the Christian Church and live good lives. He did not establish a Church of his own but helped, through his evangelistic campaigns, the expansion and spread of the missionary Churches.


In many ways, Prophet Harris can be considered as the precursor of the Pentecostal Movement in Ghana. The renewal he brought to Christianity was unprecedented. People, who ordinarily would not join the missionary Churches because of the fear of the wrath of the gods, readily joined after conversion and an immediate baptism by Harris, considering the baptism by the prophet as sufficient protection.


He was not a “Spiritual Church” founder and leader in the strictest sense of the word, though many of his followers, after his death planted Prophet-Healing Spiritual Churches. He was an evangelical in every sense of the word but, in addition, was Spirit-baptized and manifested the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He could foretell, very accurately, events in the future, he spoke in tongues and had the ability to heal the sick and to cast out demons from their victims. 


Besides all these, Harris seemed to have succeeded in areas where the missionary Churches had difficulty because he did not only preach about a God far away but brought Him near to his audience through the signs and wonders he performed in the Name of God. He was able to tap into the thought patterns, perception of reality, and the concepts of identity and community, which prevail within the Primal worldview of African Societies.


 For example in areas where the people believed in the potency of a herbal preparation after the blessing of the fetish, Harris introduced them to the “Higher God” and blessed the preparation in the Name of God before administration. He allowed his converts to sing traditional songs in praise of God’s Name. By so doing, he made Christianity more attractive to the indigenous people than what was presented by the historic Churches. People could now become true Christians while maintaining their African cultural and traditional identity.


Harris made many converts to Christianity (over 100,00 in la Cote d’Ivoire alone until he was expelled from the country for the fear of his mass appeal becoming a threat to the French Colonial Administration). Many of these converts joined the existing missionary Churches. In Apollonia and surrounding villages alone, Harris is believed to have made over 8,000 converts many of whom had burnt their fetishes in response to the message preached by the prophet.[xlv] In areas where there where no Churches, Opoku indicates that these “new converts waited patiently for someone to come and “‘unlock the Book” for them.”


Some converts, however, did not join any existing Church, and since Harris was not forming any Churches of his own, they started their own independent “Spiritual” Churches. The Twelve Apostles Church, which claims to the first of such Churches was started by two of Harris’ disciples – Grace Tani of Ankobra Mouth and John Nackabah of Essuawa. This Church was later to be popularly known as Nackabah Church after one of the founders.


Prophet John Swatson


Unlike Harris who was a Liberian national and for that matter an international evangelist and prophet, Swatson was a native of Ghana (then Gold Coast). He was born to a royal mother and an European father attached to the royal court of the chief of Beyin, a town in Nzema in the Western Region of Ghana.  He was educated by the Methodists and even worked for them as a teacher-catechist for some time.


The revival in Christianity that resulted from the campaigns of Harris inspired his own desire for renewal and Spirit baptism. Consequently, he resigned from the Methodist Church and became a disciple of Prophet Harris. Dressed in a flowing gown and carrying a cross, a Bible and a bowl of baptismal water like his teacher and model, he toured large areas of the upper regions of the Western part of Ghana preaching and converting pagans to Christianity.[xlvi]


Swatson’s achievements in penetrating the hinterlands with the gospel and in making many disciples out of many “heathens” attracted the Anglican Church. He was ordained by the Anglican Church and licensed to preach throughout the Nzema area. He retuned to his hometown Beyin and established there his headquarters.


Some of his contributions to the establishment of the Anglican Church in the Western and central parts of Ghana included his itinerant work in the hinterlands which opened up the interior of the country for Anglican mission work, and his assistance in translating parts of the prayer book and hymns into Nzema. His days with the Anglican had to end approaching his old age, probably, due to disagreement in doctrine with Bishop Anglioby, the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese who had commissioned him. As result, Swatson became drawn within himself and died a mentally deranged old man.[xlvii] 


Prophet Sampson Oppong


 Not long after the evangelistic campaigns and the great harvest of souls by Prophet Harris, another native prophet by name Sampson Oppong emerged in 1920. While Prophets Harris and Swatson concentrated their evangelistic efforts in the Western part of the country, Oppong worked in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. He made a very great impact on Christianity (particularly the Methodist Church) in these regions converting as many as 10,000 people to Christ in two years. This was very remarkable because it was at a time when there was distrust of Christianity in Ashanti.[xlviii]


Oppong was an illiterate who did not learn to read and write but had such a good grasp of the Bible.[xlix] He was a converted fetish priest whose conversion to Christianity was occasioned by a dramatic encounter with God during which he was instructed by the Spirit of God to burn his fetish and become a preacher of the Gospel.[l]  As was characteristic of prophets of his days, he moved about in a white flowing gown with a wooden cross and preached to turn people from idolatry to serve the only true God.


The Presbyterian Church was suspicious of the genuineness of his conversion and, therefore, refused to associate with him.[li] The Methodist Church, however, collaborated with him and, as a result, benefited greatly in terms of increasing the size of their congregations in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions with the converts out of his campaigns. He even accompanied Rev. W. G. Waterworth on his preaching tour of the Ashanti Region. The effects of his evangelical effort in Ashanti, for instance, was so marked that the District Synod changed their plans, and in 1924, opened their Wesleyan Training College in Kumasi, the capital of the region instead of in the colony.[lii]


Oppong fell out with the Methodist Church approaching the end of his career and live, and retired to his native village doing evangelistic work in his village and those surrounding till his death in 1965.[liii]


On the whole, it can be said that the rapid and steady expansion of Protestantism in Ghana was due to the use of African resources in terms of personnel such as Harris Swatson and Oppong. Though they maintained styles of ministry, which, to a large extent, differed from those of the missionary Churches, their unwillingness to open independent Churches of their own contributed greatly to a mass of converts who were available to join the missionary Churches. The renewal styles of these African resources, however, prepared the stage for the take-of of Pentecostalism in Ghana.


Classical Pentecostalism in Ghana


The term “Pentecostal” actually defy any easy definition and categorization. This is because there are all shades of Christian groupings, which may answer to it. In Ghana, all these shades are lumped together and usually referred to as Sunsum Nsore i.e. “Spiritual Churches,”[liv] a term which rather more accurately describes AICs. In earlier years, anyone who believed in the possibility of the gifts of the Holy Spirit described in the New Testament as being available to believers today was considered a Pentecostal. Pentecostals were those who believed that the “Bible Pattern” of baptism in the Spirit was an experience subsequent to salvation and evidenced by the ability to speak in tongues and manifest the other gifts of the Holy Spirit as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12.[lv] In addition, was the compelling sense of God’s presence in their liturgy, worship and personal lives, and an urgency to reach the lost of this world for Christ.


Contrasting the Pentecostal Churches with the AICs, scholars have described the latter as having the tendency to veer more towards syncretism and occultism than their classical Pentecostal counterparts who are “more orthodox in belief and base their discipline and practice on Biblical standards.”[lvi] Classical Pentecostals are, therefore, Evangelicals by many standards but in the initial stages of their existence, were “ostracized” by the larger Evangelical community for their “unorthodox” Pentecostal beliefs and practices.


This disharmony was later to be healed when members of the mainline Churches began to experience gifts of the Holy Spirit but turned inwards to work for renewal in their own Churches instead of outwards to join the Pentecostal Churches. This is what brought into being the Charismatic Movement, which though “Pentecostal” in terms of the experience of Spirit baptism, was nonetheless, different due to the linking of “the flow of the Spirit in the life of the believer with an actualization of what was recipient in him from earlier sacramental moments, such as baptism and confirmation.”[lvii] 


In Ghana, the classical Pentecostals are those who belong to Churches, which are members of the Ghana Pentecostal Council (GPC). This statement is quite confusing because there are Churches, which could better be classified as Charismatic Churches, which are, nonetheless, members of the GPC. These Churches include Christian Action Faith Ministry, Word Miracle Church and Royal House Chapel just to mention a few.


The Ghana Pentecostal Council (GPC)


Before the National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches (NACCC) was formed recently, Protestant Churches either belonged to the Christian Council of Ghana[lviii] or the Ghana Pentecostal Council (GPC).[lix] There is also the Association of Spiritual Churches (ASC), which is the umbrella body bringing together all the AICs in Ghana.


The GPC grew out of the larger Ghana Evangelical Fellowship (GEF), which was a fellowship of Evangelical Churches in the country. GEF was founded in March 1969 to provide fellowship for the member Churches and also to link them to the Association of Evangelicals of Africa and Madagascar (AEAM). Its maiden meeting was held at the Evangel Assemblies of God Church, Adabraka. The idea for its formation originated from Rev. James McKeown, the missionary from Britain who was the then Chairman of the church of Pentecost.


Present at the maiden meeting of GEF were: Rev. Austin Ofori Addo (The Apostolic Church, Rev. Robert L. Cobb (Assemblies of God Church), Rev. James Ghartey (The Apostolic Church), Rev. Egyir Paintsil (The Church of Pentecost), Rev. James McKeown (The Church of Pentecost), Rev. Robert Cobb (Assemblies of God Church), Rev. Djan Fosu (Assemblies of God Church), Rev. Edwin Ziemann (Assemblies of God Church), Rev. David Mills (Elim Pentecostal Church), Rev. David Tenobi (Elim Pentecostal Church), Rev. Daniel K. Saforo (Christ Apostolic Church), Gregory Fancis (W.E.C. Mission), Ross Gaskin (W.E.C. Mission), George A. Nicholson (Bible Society of Ghana), Culan Morris (Scripture Union), Allan Konrad (Lutheran Church).


Widening theological differences among the members of the GEF eventually caused the withdrawal of the non-Pentecostal members from the fellowship, leaving only the Pentecostal Churches. As a result, the name was changed to Ghana Pentecostal Fellowship (GPF) in 1977 and in 1981, at the annual delegates conference at the Apostolic Reformed Church, which had joined it in 1978, the name for the second time, was changed to the GPC.


The founding member Churches were: Assemblies of God church, The Church of Pentecost, Elim Pentecostal Church, the Christ Apostolic Church, and the Apostolic Church. By the silver jubilee in 1994, the membership had increased to 57 denominations and Churches, and by 1999 it had further increased to 150 with many more in the queue waiting to be admitted.


The governing body of the GPC is the National Executive Council, which consists of Heads of member Churches and their General Secretaries. Out of this membership, a steering Committee of a President, Vice President, General secretary, National Treasurer and three other members are elected to be the implementing agency of the decisions of the National Executive.


The Presidency and the Vice Presidency are open only to the members of the Executive Council from the founding member Churches. The position of the General Secretary is, however, open to all members. The rest must be heads of Churches who have served as ministers for more than ten years. This initially made it very difficult for the relatively young Charismatic members to provide leaders for the GPC and is probably, the most important factor, which has not made the GPC attractive to most of them.


There are regional, district and local branches of the GPC. At each of these levels, the same pattern of electing members for the Executive Council is followed. These then become responsible for the organization of the GPC at that level.


The Ghana Pentecostal Council has collaborated with the Christian Council of Ghana and the Catholic Bishop’s Conference to provide a Prophetic voice to the nation on many occasions. Joint consultations have been planned to provide the Church’s viewpoint on some important national issues. It has provided two members for the Council of state (an advisory body to the Executive) for the nation. In 1994 the then chairman, Rev. M. K. Yeboah of the Church of Pentecost was appointed to serve on the Council. In 1997, his successor, Rev. S. B. Asore of the Assemblies of God Church also served on the same council.


The Genesis of Classical Pentecostalism in Ghana – The Role of Peter Anim and his Faith Tabernacle Church


Peter Anim and his Faith Tabernacle Church are credited with the origins of Classical Pentecostalism in Ghana.[lx] Born on February 4, 1890, Anim was educated in Presbyterian schools and worked for a while for the Basel Mission Factory as a weighing clerk.  Ill health made his continued stay at the factory impossible, necessitating his movements and eventual return to his hometown Boso in 1916, where he married and had four daughters.


An interest in a Christian periodical, The Sword of the Spirit, led him to fraternize, through correspondence, with its editor, Pastor A. Clark, founder of the Faith Tabernacle Church, Philadelphia. Though non-Pentecostal, Faith Tabernacle placed much emphasis on faith healing and holiness, themes his Presbyterian upbringing had not exposed him to. He embraced these teachings and tested their efficacy by obtaining healing for himself from a chronic stomach disorder and guinea worm infestation miraculously through prayer.


In 1921, Anim withdrew his membership from the Presbyterian Church and began a healing ministry at Asamankese, which was later to be called Faith Tabernacle. In 1923, Anim was sent an ordination certificate by Clark indicating his qualification to pastor a Church.


The Faith Tabernacle Church was very conservative, stressing personal holiness and separation for the world and its systems in preparation of the imminent return of Christ because of which there should be no preoccupation in the acquisition of property. Because it was also non-Pentecostal and in fact anti-Pentecostal, speaking in tongues and emotional worship were considered satanic by the Faith Tabernacle Church. Faith healing was, however believed and practice to it extreme of non-administration of medicine on contracting a disease.


The first building of the Faith tabernacle was put up on a plot of land, which was donated by the chief of Asamankese, who was attracted by the healing and evangelistic campaigns of Anim and his group. It was on the top of this building that the reported “Pillar of Fire” was sighted by both believers and unbelievers alike during one revival meeting. This increased Anim’s faith greatly an in no time, branches of his group had been established in many towns in the southern part of the Gold Coast and even across the country in Togoland.


While this expansion was going on, another periodical, this time Pentecostal, The Apostolic Faith, published by the Apostolic Faith Evangelistic Organization, of Portland Oregon, USA[lxi] was deepening Anim’s desire for greater spiritual experiences. The teaching on the Holy Spirit was that which caught his attention the most. This interest in the Apostolic Faith teaching on the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues did not go down well with some of his pastors. Undaunted by this, nevertheless, Anim continued to study from the Apostolic Faith and eventually resigned from the Faith Tabernacle in 1930 and adopted the name Apostolic Faith for his group.  


Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues, which they referred to as “Holy Spirit Outpourings” became widespread among the membership and gave the group both popularity and notoriety, since many Christians, including his Faith Tabernacle pastors, thought it was in error. Some of the rank and file of the Faith Tabernacle Church, however, sought for this experience after Anim’s. One Kwadwo Duku of Atonsu Faith Tabernacle Church is reported to have walked to Asamankese (a distance of 160 miles) to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.[lxii]  On his return, other members who were inspired by him also walked to Asamankese to get baptized in the Holy Spirit.


In 1931, there was a new turn of Anim’s ministry. Through a fellow Faith Tabernacle pastor, David O. Odubanjo of Nigeria, Anim got into contact with missionaries of the Apostolic Church of Bradford, UK. Through an understanding between the two parties, Pastor George Perfect (Apostle) visited Asamankese. His ministry made such an impression on Anim and his Church that before he returned after two weeks stay, the decision to become affiliated with the UK Apostolic Church had been taken by Anim and his Church.


Anim then requested Bradford to send a resident missionary to Ghana to assist in the work. In 1937, James McKeown,[lxiii] was dispatched as the first Pentecostal missionary from UK to Asamankese. He was, later in May of the same year, to be joined by his wife Sophia.


McKeown’s diligence attracted the admiration of all. He fully participated in the construction of the mission house, which was to house him. However, his contraction of malaria began a battle between him and Anim’s followers, which eventually ended in their separation. The trekking District Commissioner, seeing the seriousness of his condition, sent him to the nearest European Hospital, the Kibi District hospital for treatment, an action, which was considered theologically incorrect for Anim’s followers.


McKeown responded very well to treatment and on his discharge, after eleven days of hospitalization, returned immediately to Asamankese to continue his work. However, he face hostility because the Church felt betrayed by their missionary who “had gone against their teaching to receive medical treatment. McKeown requested a transfer to a new station. Without the approval of the executive, he, nevertheless, moved to Winneba, a town along the coast. After he settled in Winneba, he requested a leave of absence and returned to the UK.


 The Apostolic Church, UK did their best to request cooperation with the missionary without much success since their stand on “no medication” was to them non-negotiable. McKeown returned from the UK and at a meeting with Anim at Winneba, threatened Anim and his group with expulsion from the Apostolic Church if they did not modify their uncompromising stand on prayer alone for healing.[lxiv]


Unwilling to “compromise,” Anim and his group seceded from the Apostolic Church and instead prefixed “Christ” to their original name and adopted the name Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) at a meeting in 1939.  However, McKeown continued to use the name Apostolic Church of the Gold Coast for his group, which was headquartered in Winneba.


 Anim’s CAC began to organize to establish herself as a Classical Pentecostal denomination in Ghana. Formulation of her theology and doctrines took time to formalize as changes in position on matters of theology and doctrine shifted more than a few times as more light shined on their understanding.[lxv] Though Anim was the principal formulator of these doctrines, Larbi indicates that he did this with the approval of his executive.


James McKeown and the Genesis of the Church of Pentecost


James McKeown was the first Pentecostal missionary to come to Ghana from the United Kingdom. He landed on the shores of the country with little education and little training in 1937 on the invitation of Anim’s Apostolic Church, Gold Coast, which had shifted affiliations from the Philadelphia Faith Tabernacle, USA to the Bradford Apostolic Church, UK.


Born on September 12, 1900, McKeown himself earlier joined the Apostolic Church, UK from the Elim Pentecostal Church in Glasgow, Scotland because there was no branch of his mother Church in Glasgow where he relocated from his hometown of Antrim.[lxvi] His work with the Apostolic Church Gold coast at the headquarters in Asamankese endeared him to all and sundry.


A brush with a tropical disease which threatened his life, his decision to seek medical treatment and the subsequent misunderstanding with his Church who thought he had violated her doctrine of “only prayer for healing,” led to his relocation in Winneba and eventual separation in 1939 from Anim who was the founder of the Apostolic Church, Gold Coast. While Anim adopted the name Christ Apostolic Church for his faction, McKeown maintained the name Apostolic Church of Gold Coast for his.


Initially, McKeown’s Church benefited from Anim’s groups (the earlier Faith Tabernacle and the latter Christ Apostolic Church).[lxvii] His earliest trusted assistants and many of the early members of his Church were all past members of Anim’s Church. These members found the “no medication” teaching of Anim difficult to keep. And since McKeown taught everything Anim taught but did not consider medication devilish, inviting discipline, they joined McKeown in droves. 


An invitation by the Twelve Apostles’ Church led by John Nackabah also helped to boost his popularity and the growth of his Church. His visit to Kajebir in the Western Region where they were based was to them a fulfillment of a prophecy by Prophet Harris and a vision of John Nackabah that a slender and a tall white gentleman would come to teach them the Bible. Though McKeown was not pleased with the cultic worship of the Twelve Apostles’ Church, he nevertheless associated with them for a while and through that got many to be converted and baptized. Many of these where later to join his growing Church. 


Change of Name from The Apostolic Church, Gold Coast to The Church of Pentecost.


The Apostolics at Bradford were very rigid and maintained a centralized Church polity. They kept themselves to themselves and did not open up to anyone from without their fold. Through James McKeown’s brother Adam McKeown who had been sent to Canada as a missionary after serving with his brother in Ghana for two and a half years, James and the Church in Ghana came into contact with Dr. Wyatt, an American revivalist from Portland Oregon and the Latter Rain[lxviii] Pentecostal group which he led.


The Latter Rain emphasized the unity of the body of Christ and operated contrary to the rigid centralized manner of the Apostolics. As a result the contact of the Apostolic Church of the Gold Coast with the Latter Rain, which though was a source of great encouragement, inspiration and joy to the Africans, incurred the displeasure of the Bradfords.  At the next Quadrennial Council meeting in 1953 in Bradford, amendments to the constitution, which were distasteful to James McKeown against which he voted, eventually caused his dismissal from the Apostolic Church.


These particular amendments created separate apostles for whites and blacks, so that a black apostle could not exercise authority over a white person, and made it impossible for anyone or group outside the Apostolics to be given any platform anywhere. James McKeown thought these were unscriptural and therefore could not out a pure conscience affirm it. He was asked to hand in his ordination certificate and leave. No Apostolic platform in the world was to open to him again. 


The Africans back in the Gold Coast were adamant. They wanted James McKeown back as their superintendent but they knew this would not be possible if they remained under the UK Apostolic Church. A unanimous decision to severe relations with the Apostolic Church, UK was, therefore, taken. There was now and independent African Church led by McKeown known as The Gold Coast Apostolic Church and the Bradford Apostolic Church who fought hard to maintain their hold on the UK-affiliated Apostolic Church.


Some members decided to remain with the Bradfords and, through litigation in the courts, managed to hold on to property that belonged to the Church. An attempt to decentralize its administration also resulted in the defections some of which resulted in the founding of the Divine Healers Church and the Apostolic Reformed Church, which exist till today. Many, however, remained with McKeown and in no time the Church had become an influential Pentecostal Church in the country.


Further litigations over property and name which attracted the intervention of the then President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to decree that McKeown be left alone to head the Church and be allowed to live in the country. He also decreed that the name be changed to avoid confusion with the name of the Bradfords. From August 1962, therefore, the name of The Gold Coast Apostolic Church headed by James McKeown became known as The Church of Pentecost.


Other missionaries were sent from the UK and North America from time to time to assist James in the work in the Cold Coast. These missionaries who worked for relatively shorter periods made some contribution to the growth of the Church of Pentecost. They included Adam McKeown, James brother who lived for two and a half years and helped to open many branches of the Church in the western and eastern regions. Another one sent by the UK Apostolic Church was Stanley Hammond whose good work in the Witness Movement helped in the expansion of the Church.


Other missionaries who joined James were G. L. W. Ladlow and his wife from the Elim Pentecostal Church of UK, Charles Berridge and Millford Grisham from the Latter Rain Movement of USA. Sydney Scholes, Henri Archim and Stephen Westfall were also missionaries from USA who lived in the Gold Coast for varied periods to contribute to the development of the church.


One of McKeown’s greatest strengths was his vision of training Africans to be in charge of the affairs of the indigenous African Church he had in mind. As a result he trained many local evangelists and pastors who became his trusted assistants though a few became treacherous and led some breakaways.  These included such loyal men as S. R. Asomaning from Akroso, R. O. Hayford who was ordained an evangelist and D. K. Boateng as well as E. K. Okanta. Rev F. S. Safo who took over the the chairmanship afer McKeown’s retirment, Prophet M. K. Yeboah who was the next successor and R Egyir-Painstil who was the first General Secretary of the Church were among those who were trained by James. 


Thus McKeown’s Apostolic Church of the Gold Coast, which was later to become The Church of Pentecost moved from the fringes of Christianity in the country to become a dominant evangelical denomination in Ghana. The educated elite and the “polished” in society who considered it degrading to be associated with the Church initially shunned her. The assemblies were made up initially of the low in society meeting in makeshift worshipping places.


Forced to have a vision of an indigenous self-supporting, Spirit-filled and disciplined Church, due in part to the infrequent flow of financial support from his Bradford Apostolics (unlike the other missionaries in those days), but mainly due to his own convictions of what the African Church should be like, he labored with his wife Sophia in evangelism[lxix] to build the Church of Pentecost which is today the fastest growing in Ghana and, probably in the whole of the West African sub-region.


Other Early Classical Pentecostal Churches in Ghana


The Assemblies of God


The Assemblies of God from the USA arrived in the country in 1931[lxx] ahead of the UK Apostolics. It has been suggested by many that it was the first Pentecostal Church in Ghana. If this is meant the first missionary sponsored Classical Pentecostal Church, then it is not far from the truth. Otherwise, it is not a very accurate suggestion.


I have already indicated the indigenous character of early Pentecostalism in Ghana. Long before and Assemblies of God missionaries arrived in the country, Prophet Wade Harris had led a Pentecostal revival which had had a large following. Incidentally, for lack of proper biblical instruction, many of the offshoots tended to be syncretistic and cultic. The missionaries who arrived later only came to water the seeds of Pentecostalism, which had previously been planted by Harris and his disciples.


The assemblies of God are believed to have entered the country across the northern frontier from French-speaking Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso). Her mission work thus began in the northern part of Ghana from where it expanded to the south. The Assemblies of God, therefore, up till today has a very large following in the northern part of Ghana and people from northern descent in the south. Its longest serving Ghanaian Chairman, Rev. Dr. Simon Asore is of northern descent.


Being a missionary-sponsored mission, the Assemblies of God depended very heavily on financial and other assistance from America. In all, about 99 missionaries were sent to work in various capacities in the Assemblies of God, Ghana between 1931-1970.[lxxi] These included typists, cooks, building contractors, teachers, medical personnel and Church Planters. These mainly white Americans had a difficulty overcoming in-bred color prejudices, and as a result, had a relatively less impact on the natives than McKeown had.[lxxii] The boost in the membership began to occur only after the Church gained independence in 1970 and became less dependent on America.


In their Church planting efforts, therefore, the Assemblies of God missionaries cannot be said to have succeeded very greatly, against the backdrop of the explosive Church growth the various Apostolic Churches in the Gold Coast experience. However, in the provision of social services such as medical care and education (especially theological education and literature development), they performed very creditably. The mission is credited with the development of a vernacular literature and the translation of the Dagomba version of the New Testament and the establishment of three Bible Institutes.[lxxiii]


The Assemblies of God is, nevertheless, one of the most prominent Classical Pentecostal Churches in the country. It was a founding member of the Ghana Pentecostal Council and its current chairman has served for two consecutive terms of 5 years each as the President of the Ghana Pentecostal Council.


The Apostolic Church, Gold Coast (Ghana)


The centralized, near autocratic control, which the UK Apostolic Church exercised over the Apostolic Church of the Gold Coast, eventually, resulted in the suspension of McKeown from the Church because he could not subscribe to some of the rules. This created a problem for the Church in the Gold Coast. Self-governing tendencies, which ware already fomenting, spearheaded by some of the leaders who had ambitions of ousting McKeown to lead the Church, were given a greater boost.[lxxiv]


After McKeown’s suspension by the UK Apostolic Church, the members of the Apostolic Church of Gold Coast requested that McKeown becomes their superintendent -  a request that was difficult to honor since his suspension barred him from any platform of the Apostolics. The Church in the God Coast, therefore, unanimously decided to severe their relationship with the Church in the UK.


The name Gold Coast Apostolic Church was then adopted. The Bradfords, were not going to lose their hold in the Gold Coast so easily. They quickly sent missionaries to take charge of the work. Together with the few people who still wanted to remain affiliated the UK Apostolic Church, they contested the property of the Church in court and managed to take possession of many of the buildings and a lot of the money.


This was very unfortunate because the property never belonged to the UK Apostolic Church. This was because James McKeown was perhaps the only missionary who, in those days, advocated for a self-supporting, internally financing African Church. The money was therefore raised in the Gold Coast and the property were also acquired in the name of the Gold Coast Church.


So there were tow Churches with confusing names: the Gold Coast Apostolic Church lead by James McKeown and the Apostolic Church of Gold Coast controlled by the Apostolic Church of UK.  An intervention by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the then and first native president of the country resulted in the decision by McKeown’s to change its name to the Church of Pentecost.


The Apostolic Church of Gold Coast remained under the Church in the UK until 1962 when it was given a mandatory autonomy[lxxv] lasting up to 1985 when it became fully autonomous. In 1957, however, when the Gold Coast became Ghana, the name of the Church was also changed into the Apostolic Church of Ghana. The position of the Field Superintendent was changed to Chairman. The first chairman of the Church became Rev. Ofori Addo. He reigned until 1986 and was succeeded by Rev. Peter Attah Antwi. The present chairman is Rev. Joseph Anim who is also the current Vice President of the Ghana Pentecostal Council.


Many other Pentecostal missions had their missionaries working at different times in the country. They included the UK Elim Pentecostal Church which joined with the Church of Pentecost in 1972, the USA Foursquare Gospel Church, the Church of God, Cleveland Tennessee, the Church of God Anderson, Indiana, the Church of God, Prophecy and the Pentecostal Holiness. The Ghana Pentecostal Council, which brings together all the Classical Pentecostal Churches in Ghana today has a membership which exceeds 150, many of which are indigenous in origin.


The Classical Pentecostal Roots of the Charismatic or the Neo-Pentecostal Movement in Ghana.


Just as it was in Europe, North America, South America and Asia, the renewal, which was brought about by the Pentecostal movement was initially looked upon with mistrust by the historic Churches. Some of them went to the extent of branding it satanic, warning their members to have nothing to do with it. Others, with caution neither criticized nor were open to it.


However, the transformed lives and the sense of the nearness and reality of God, which was characteristic of the Pentecostals became contagious and soon infected some of the clergy and members of these Churches. Pentecostalism, therefore, in this manner, also gradually crept into the historic Churches, eventually resulting in what became known as the Neo-Pentecostal or the Charismatic movement.


The role of the charismatic movement as a new and rapidly growing form of Christianity in the world, particularly, in the developing world is increasingly being acknowledged.[lxxvi] In Africa, this movement, which emerged only in the 1970s, is fast becoming the most significant expression of Christianity in the continent, especially, in the cities.[lxxvii] According to Allan Anderson, we cannot understand African Christianity today without also understanding this latest movement of revival and renewal.[lxxviii]  





     [i] The2000 population census indicated that Christians were 69% of total population and formed the majority in Ghana. See General Info on Ghana, 2000: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/gh_general.html


     [ii] See.Ghana Evangelism Committee (eds), 1989: National Survey: Facing the Unfinished Task of the Church in Ghana, Accra. The western religious worldview with which the missionaries attempted to evangelize the natives resulted in a somewhat superficial acceptance of Christianity in the hearts of the natives. Most people only seemed to have been attracted to the western education and the lifestyle of the missionaries and were not really converted at heart. Christianity, for most people, was accepted only intellectually. It was common for people who were Presbyterians or Methodists in those days to visit the shrines of anti-witchcraft cults for the meeting of existential needs, which the God of the missionaries was considered powerless to meet.


     [iii] Annorbah-Sarpei, J., 1990: The Rise of Prophetism – A Socio-Political Explanation in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 23-27


     [iv] Chatfield, J., 2002 : African Independent Churches: Friends or Foes? An Exercise in Doctrinal Dialogue, http://www.teenet.net/vol4p8.htm


     [v] Walls, A., !994: The Evengelical Revival: The Missionary Movement in Africa in Noll, Bebbingtom and Rawlyk (eds) Evangelicalism, OUP, Oxford, 1994


     [vi] Ibid


     [vii] Oosthuizen, G. C., 1968: Post-Christianity in Africa. Hurst & Co., London in Chatfield, J., 2002 : African Independent Churches: Friends or Foes? An Exercise in Doctrinal Dialogue, http://www.teenet.net/vol4p8.htm


     [viii] Chatfield, J., 19--: African Independent Churches: Friends or Foes? An Exercise in Doctrinal Dialogue, http://www.teenet.net/vol4p8.htm


     [ix] Shorter, A. (ed), 1967: “A Typology for African Religious Movements” in Journal of Religion in Africa Vol 7,


     [x] Chatfield, J., 19--: African Independent Churches: Friends or Foes? An Exercise in Doctrinal Dialogue http://www.teenet.net/vol4p8.htm


     [xi] Dr. Peter A. Schweizer is the Swiss Ambassador to Ghana. His interest in the history of missionary activity in Ghana stems from the fact that The Basel Evangelical Missionary Society established in his country had great success in the Gold Coast Mission Field. The Presbyterian Church of Ghana, which is a result of those efforts, is now one of the largest denominations in Ghana.


     [xii] See Schweizer, P. A., 2000: Survivors of the Gold Coast – The Basel Missionaries in Colonial Ghana, Smartline Publishing, 8-12


     [xiii] The Era of Enlightenment refers to a period in 18th century Europe when “reason” alone dictated the conduct of life. It was characterized by the glorification of human intellect and the repudiation of biblical and religious authority obtained through revelation.


     [xiv] The history of the Roman Catholic Church’s missionary activities was obtained from Bishop Palmer-Buckle, The Catholic Bishop of Koforidua. See his article; The Roman Catholic Experience in Ghana, in Journal of African Christian Thought, vol.1, No. 2, December 1998, 26-33


     [xv] Information on the history of the activities of Protestant Missionary Societies in Ghana (Moravian, Anglican, Wesleyan, Bremen, some aspects of Basel Missionary activity) was obtained from Rev. Dr. Aboagye Mensah in his article; The Protestant Experience, in Ghana. In, the Journal of African Christian Thought, vol. 1, no. 2, December 1998, 34-42. He is a Methodist Minister and the current General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana.


     [xvi] Christianborg was the name the Danes gave the Castle they built as their headquarters in Accra, the capital of Ghana. It later changed hands to the British and became the Seat of the British Colonial administration after it had, for a time, become a slave transit quarters. The refurbished Castle is now the Seat of the Government of Ghana


     [xvii] Kwahu, Akyem and Asanti are Akan states which are a in the central part f Ghana. They are farther inland and away from the coast. In the past, they were very difficult to reach from the coast due to the non-availability of easy means of communication. Missionaries who found it easier working along the coast due to their easy accessibility and the presence of the European Administrations for protection took sometime to get to these areas of the Gold Coast.


     [xviii] Twi and Ga are vernaculars spoken by two lineages in Ghana. The Twi speaking people are Akans while the Ga speaking are Gas or Adangbes. Because the earliest missionaries worked mostly among these peoples, the two languages were the first to be analyzed linguistically and scientifically by the missionaries. They were thus the earliest to be used to translate the earliest Scriptures in native languages.


     [xix] Tetteh Quarshie is the man who is widely known all over Ghana to be the one who first introduced cocoa, a major cash crop and foreign exchange earner, to the country. What is not known, however, is that it was the missionaries who first introduced cocoa to Ghana. They even successfully planted and processed some beans to beverages long before Tetteh Quarshie went to Fernando Po, the island where he is known to have brought his cocoa from. He knew it, by working with the missionaries in Ghana before he left for the island. Having seen what he already knew in Ghana on the island, it was natural for him to have brought some back on his return.


     [xx] UTC became a household name in the Gold Coast and early Ghana. It was a company that established shopping malls in all the cities and large towns of the country. The present generation of Ghanaians, however, knows next to nothing about the name because all the malls are now non-operational.


     [xxi] Asamoah-Gyedu, 1998: The Church in the African state – The Pentecostal/Charismatic Experience in Ghana, Journal of African Christian Thought, Vol. 1, No. 2, 51-57


     [xxii] Dr. Kingsley E. Larbi is perhaps the first chronicler of the Ghanaian Pentecostal story. He is a Professor of Pentecostal studies and the Vice Chancellor of Central University College, Accra – the first indigenous private Christian University in Ghana, and the director of the Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies. His book Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity (Blessed Publications, Accra-Ghana) is almost an encyclopedia of Ghanaian Pentecostalism. 


     [xxiii] Kimble David, 1963: A Political History of Ghana – The Rise of Gold Coast Nationalism 1850-1928, Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 165 in Aboagye-Mensah, K. R., 1989: The Church in the African State: The Protestant Experience in Ghana, Journal of African Christian Thought, 42-50.


     [xxiv] Baeta was, perhaps, the earliest Ghanaian scholar who extensively studied the AICs in Ghana. Some of the early AICs which he studied included Church of the Twelve Apostles; Musama Disco Christo Church; Saviour Church (Memeneda Gyidifo); Apostles Revelation Society; Prayer and Healing Group of the E.P. Church at Etodome (now White Cross Society); African Faith Tabernacle Congregation; Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim Society; St. Michael’s Spiritualist Temple of Light (Greater World Church of the Lord (Aladura). See Baeta, C. G., 1962: Prophetism in Ghana: A Study of Some ‘Spiritual’ Churches, London: SCM Press, See also Annorbah-Sarpei, J., 1990: The Rise of Prophetism – A Socio-Political Explanation in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 23-27.


     [xxv] The AICs are Christian bodies in Africa that were established as a result of African initiative, rather than on the initiative of foreign missionary organizations. While most people agree on the initials, there is less agreement about what they stand for, and what the variations mean. Dr. Allan Anderson describes the AICs as the African Reformation. See Anderson Allan, 2000: African Reformation, Trenton, NJ., Africa World Press.


     [xxvi] This title was normally self-designated. However, the Prophets so called usually received visions and had dreams. They lacked any formal theological training but preached with tremendous response. They almost always were able to heal sicknesses with or without elements such as miniature wooden crosses, stones, blessed or holy water etc, and were able to exorcise evil spirits from their victims. They normally wore long flowing white gowns with turbines and sashes, sometimes, barefooted evoking the imagery of Old Testament Prophets, especially Moses.


     [xxvii] Opoku, K. A., 1990: A Brief History of Independent Church Movements in Ghana since 1862, in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 22-26


     [xxviii] Anquandah, James, 1990: The Ghana Independent/Pentecostal Movement, in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 22-26


     [xxix] See Anderson Allan, 2000: African Reformation, Trenton, NJ., Africa World Press


     [xxx] Professor Ogbu U. Kalu is a Professor of Religions aft the Department of Religions at the University of Nigeria. See Kalu, Ogbu, U., 1998: The Third Response: Pentecostalism and the Reconstruction of Christian Experience in Africa, 1970-1995, Journal of African Christian Thought, Vol. 1, No. 2.


     [xxxi] Dr. Matthews A. Ojo teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, See Ojo, O. M., 2000: The Dynamics of Indigenous Charismatic Missionary Enterprises in West Africa, Missionolia


     [xxxii] According to Ojo, the Aladura evangelistic and missionary activities virtually closed down by the 1960s because they were not co-coordinated. See Ojo, O. M., 2000: The Dynamics of Indigenous Charismatic Missionary Enterprises in West Africa, Missionolia


     [xxxiii] See Hayes Steve, 1998: What are AICs? Missionalia, Vol. 20, No. 2, Journal of the Southern African Missiological Society, 139-46.


     [xxxiv] The Southern African Missiological Society for instance has made AICs the sole subject of their research efforts. It publishes the Journal Missionalia three times a year with articles, reviews and abstracts dealing with AICs


     [xxxv]Annorbah-Sarpei, J., 1990: The Rise of Prophetism – A Socio-Political Explanation in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 23-27


     [xxxvi] Between 1900 and 1950 there was a widespread rise of anti-witchcraft cultic shrine activities in the Gold coast. This rise has been attributed to several causes. While Debrunner thought that both witchcraft and anti-witchcraft activities were neurotic responses to counteract the dangers of the difficult economic and social conditions at the time, Anorbai-Sarpei thought anti-witchcraft cults rose in those days because education and Christianity had made infamous the previous traditional ways of dealing with witchcraft through the old gods or abosom. Their fame and widespread acceptance caused no small stir to the Churches, traditional authorities and political authority, which were scared of the cults’ mass mobilization potential. The cults included Tigare (which became the most famous), Brakune or Kune, Senyakapo or Senya Kupo, Tongo, Kankamea, Blekete, Kwasi Kukuro, and Kwaku Firi shrines. See Debrunner, Hans, W., 1959: Witchcraft in Ghana, Accra: Waterville Publishing House. See Also Field, M. J., 1968: Some New Shrines of the Gold Coast and their Significance, in Africa 13:2, London, 138-49.


     [xxxvii] Von Rad, 1968: The Message of the Prophets (London), cited by Annorbah-Sarpei, J., 1990: The Rise of Prophetism – A Socio-Political Explanation in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 23-27


     [xxxviii] Hodgkin, Thomas 1956: Nationalism in Colonial Africa (London) cited by Annorbah-Sarpei, J., 1990: The Rise of Prophetism – A Socio-Political Explanation in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 23-27


     [xxxix]Anquandah, James, 1990: The Ghana Independent/Pentecostal Movement, in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 22-26



     [xl] See Smith, Noel, 1966: The Presbyterian Church in Ghana, Accra: GUP, 137. He indicates that observation at Abetifi of about two thousand pilgrims streaming to the Tigare shrine was on the occasion of the Tigare Anwoma Festival in 1944.


     [xli] Prophet William Wade Harris (1865-1925) is perhaps the best-known and most well researched African Prophet. The astonishing journeys in 1914 of this famous Liberian prophet throughout la Cote d’Ivoire to western Ghana, has been described as the most remarkable evangelical campaign Africa has ever witnessed, resulting in many conversions to Christianity. He is doubtlessly, the first independent African Christian Prophet. His life and ministry are well documented by many authors and researchers: Cox, Harvey, 1996: Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-First Century, London: Cassell, 259; Hollenweger Walter, J., 1997: Pentecostals: Origins and Developments Worldwide, Peabody: Hendrickson, 23; Bediako, Kwame, 2000: The Primal Imagination and the Opportunity for a New Theological Idiom, in Jesus in Africa: The Christian Gospel in African History and Experience, Cle and Regnum, Africa; Howard, Kweku, 1989: “First African Prophet”, in West Africa, No. 3776 (25th December, 1989-7th January 1990), 2149-51; Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications; Opoku, K. A., 1990: A Brief History of Independent Church Movements in Ghana since 1862, in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 22-26; Shank, D., 1980: A Prophet for Modern Times: The Thoughts of William Wade Harris, West African precursor of the reign of Christ, (2 vols.) PhD Thesis, Aberdeen University, subsequently published as Prophet Harris. The ‘Black Elijah’ of West Africa, abridged by Joycelyn Murray, (Leiden: EJ Brill, 1994); Haliburton, G. M., 1971: The Prophet Harris: A Study of an African Prophet and his Mass Movement in the Ivory Coast and the Gold coast, 1913-1915, Hallow: Longman; Haliburton, G. M., 1973: The Prophet Harris. New York: OUP, 30. Kimble David, 1963: A Political History of Ghana: The Rise of Gold Coast Nationalism 1850-1928, Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 165, Debrunner, Hans, W.,



[xlii] Debrunner, Hans, W., 1965: The Story of Sampson Oppong, the Prophet, Accra: Waterville Publishing House, 137. See also Haaliburton G. M., 1965: The Calling of a Prophet: Sampson Oppong, Bulletin of the Society of African Church History 2:1, Aberdeen, 84-96.


     [xliii] Kru is the name of an ethnic group in Liberia, West Africa. They are one of the indigenous people groups who settled in the country before freed slaves were resettled from the Caribbean. They are a very closed community and are the only ethnic group in West Africa who are known to have no “sickle cells” in their blood (Sickle cells appear to be God’s way of protecting the Blacks in tropical Africa from the vagaries of malaria). See Stride, G. T., Ifeka, C., 1971: Peoples and Empires of West Africa: West Africa in History 1000-1800, Edinburgh, Thomas Nelson and Sons, 6 


     [xliv] Shank, D., 1980: A Prophet for Modern Times: The Thoughts of William Wade Harris, West African precursor of the reign of Christ, (2 vols.) PhD Thesis, Aberdeen University, subsequently published as Prophet Harris. The ‘Black Elijah’ of West Africa, abridged by Joycelyn Murray, (Leiden: EJ Brill, 1994) 


     [xlv] Opoku, K. A., 1990: A Brief History of Independent Church Movements in Ghana since 1862, in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 22-26


     [xlvi] Haliburton, G. M., 1973: The Prophet Harris. New York: OUP, 30, in Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications, 64


     [xlvii] See Haliburton, M, G., 1964: The Anglican Church in Ghana and Harris Movement in 1914, The Bulletin of the Society of African Church History 1, 101-106; See also Haliburton M. G., 1965: The Calling of a Prophet. The Bulletin of the society of African Church History 2:1, 92 in Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications, 64


     [xlviii] Opoku, K. A., 1990: A Brief History of Independent Church Movements in Ghana since 1862, in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 22-26


     [xlix] Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications, 66


     [l] Ibid., 67


     [li] Kimble David, 1963: A Political History of Ghana – The Rise of Gold Coast Nationalism 1850-1928, Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 165 in Aboagye-Mensah, K. R., 1989: The Church in the African State: The Protestant Experience in Ghana, Journal of African Christian Thought, 42-50.


     [lii] See Ibid., 44; Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications, 66; Opoku, K. A., 1990: A Brief History of Independent Church Movements in Ghana since 1862, in The Rise of Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, 22-26



     [liii] Haliburton M. G., 1965: The Calling of a Prophet. The Bulletin of the society of African Church History 2:1, 92 in Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications, 68.


     [liv] Asamoah-Gyedu, 1998: The Church in the African state – The Pentecostal/Charismatic Experience in Ghana, Journal of African Christian Thought, Vol. 1, No. 2, 51-57; Asempa Publishers, (eds) 1990: The Rise if Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, Christian Council of Ghana.


     [lv] Menzies, M. W., 1998: Reflections of a Pentecostal at the End of the Millennium, An Editorial Essay, Asian Pacific Theological Seminary.


     [lvi]Asempa Publishers, (eds) 1990: Introduction, in The Rise if Independent Churches in Ghana, Accra, Asempa Publishers, Christian Council of Ghana.



     [lvii] Menzies, M. W., 1998: Reflections of a Pentecostal at the End of the Millennium, An Editorial Essay, Asian Pacific Theological Seminary.


     [lviii] The member Churches of the Christian council of Ghana are: the Methodist Church of Ghana, Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Joint Anglican Diocesan council, Society of Friends (Quakers), Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Salvation Army, Ghana Baptist Convention, Africa Methodist Episcopal Church, F’Eden Church, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana, Orthodox church of Ghana and Mennonite Church. The two affiliated organizations are the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) and the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA). Aboagye-Mensah, K. R., 1989: The Church in the African State: The Protestant Experience in Ghana, Journal of African Christian Thought, 42-50.


     [lix] Information about the Ghana Pentecostal Council was obtained from the handbook prepared for the induction of the current President and Vice President of the Council on July 25, 1999, and from Dr. Larbi’s book: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications (2001), 74-78

     [lx] The Chronicler of Ghanaian Pentecostalism has adequately covered the story of Peter Anim and his Faith Tabernacle Church and three of the four leading classical Pentecostal Churches namely, the Christ Apostolic Church, the Church of Pentecost and the Apostolic Church, which emerged out of it. See Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications,


     [lxi] The founder of the Apostolic Faith Evangelistic Organization was Florence Louise Crawford (1872-1936). She became associated with the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 after her conversion, and received her healing from a childhood injury and spinal meningitis after her experience of sanctification and Spirit baptism. For as long as thirty years, “Mother”, as she was affectionately called, used her position as general overseer of the Apostolic Faith Church to maintain a strict Holiness standard of doctrine and practice. Her relationship with William J. Seymour was strained for two reasons: Seymour’s 1908 marriage of which she disapproved, and her transfer of the Apostolic Faith paper and its mailing lists from Azusa Street to Portland despite Seymour’s objections. Though the Apostolic Faith organization had fewer than three thousand members, at Crawford’s death, branch Churches and the magazine extended its influence around the world. See Nelson, D. J.,  (1981): For Such a Time As This: The Story of Bishop William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival, Ph.D. diss. University of Birmingham.


     [lxii] Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications, 105.


     [lxiii] The life story of James McKeown, especially his toil in Ghana to plant the seed that has germinated to become a giant tree (The Church of Pentecost, now the largest Protestant denomination in Ghana) is well captured in Leonard, Christine, 1989: A Giant in Ghana, England, New Wine Press.

     [lxiv] The “no medication” stance of Anim’s Church was an overstretching of the doctrine of divine or faith healing to an uncomfortable extreme. The group considered the medical profession as devilish and any Christian who took medication as a candidate for hell who was subject to the same discipline as one involved in sexual immorality or even demon worship. Sores were not to be dressed. Wearing glasses for sight or reading was considered a sin. It was worshipping the god of sand out of which the glasses were made. If one broke his leg, splints were forbidden. Women in labor were told that their faith alone was sufficient and so should not allow anyone to assist them to give birth. This resulted in the preventable deaths of many women and their babies. This put McKeown in a difficult position. Not only did he consider that a dangerous doctrine but thought he was in danger of facing the wrath of the British Colonial Administration if he was known to be associated with such a “dangerous cult.” See Leonard, Christine, 1989: A Giant in Ghana, England, New Wine Press.


     [lxv] Larbi has researched into and documented the theology, doctrines, administrative structures etc. of  the CAC and the processes it passed through to its formalization. See Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications, 142-73. This CAC founded by Prophet Anim is the same that exists today under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Anor Yeboah. It is an important Classical Pentecostal Church in the country and one of the founding members of the Ghana Pentecostal Council.


     [lxvi] See Leonard, Christine, 1989: A Giant in Ghana, England, New Wine Press. See also Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications, 175-203.


     [lxvii] Christine Leonard indicates that many of the members from Anim’s outlying groups and several men from Akroso (near Asamankese) were McKeown’s earliest pastors. This defection of members of Anim’s Church to McKeown’s was a great boost to McKeown’s Church since Anim’s Apostolic Church had several churches scattered throughout the southern parts of the country. 


     [lxviii] Unlike the Apostolics or the Bradfords, whose administrative system has been described as “The most authoritarian and hierarchical structure in British Pentecostalism”, the latter rain emphasized the unity of the body of Christ and kicked against the strict central control practiced by the Apostolics.


     [lxix] Debrunner who documented the history of events in the Gold Coast indicated in his book the basic difference between James McKeown’s missionary style and emphasis and that of the other missionaries. Not highly educated himself, he did not think education was the best thing that the Africans needed. He plunged himself into evangelism, going into the hinterlands shunned by the other missionaries, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, achieved a greater missionary success than them all. Many missionaries of the established Churches felt, on the other hand, that education was the priority. Many were later to discover that the overburdening with education was a mixed blessing. They realized too late that they deviated from their main reasons for being in the Gold Coast – to evangelize the “heathens.” See Debrunner, W. H., 1967: History of Christianity in Ghana, Accra, Waterville House, 352


      [lxx] This history of the beginnings of the Assemblies of God was given by Asamoah-Gyedu and confirmed by a book edited by Asempa Publishers. See Asamoah-Gyedu, 1998: The Church in the African state – The Pentecostal/Charismatic Experience in Ghana, Journal of African Christian Thought, Vol. 1, No. 2, 51-57. See also The Rise Of Independent Churches in Ghana, 1990: Asempa Publishers (eds), Accra, Asempa Publishers, Christian Council of Ghana, 9.

     [lxxi]Larbi, E. K., 2001: Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity, Accra-Ghana, Blessed Publications, 73.


     [lxxii] This was what McKeown thought was the reason for the relatively greater impact his missionary activities had on the evangelization of the natives as compared to the missionary activities of the Assemblies of God. See Leonard, Christine, 1989: A Giant in Ghana, England, New Wine Press.


     [lxxiii] These are: the Northern Ghana Bible Institute, Kumasi Bible Institute and the Southern Ghana Bible Institute, Saltpond.


     [lxxiv] J. A. C. Anaman who was second in command to McKeown after the latter’s separation from the Bradfords was one of these. In 1960, after the plot he had harbored for years to oust McKeown failed, he left the Church and joined the Bradfords.


     [lxxv] The mandatory autonomy was a somewhat partial autonomy. This is because all pastoral appointments and promotions needed to be approved by UK before ordination in Ghana. Minutes of meetings had to be sent for ratification in the UK before adoption and implementation. Salaries of missionaries were paid by UK while car maintenance and traveling allowances were paid in Ghana

     [lxxvi] Allan Anderson and Walter J. Hollenweger (eds), 1999: Pentecostals after a Century: Global Perspectives on a Movement in Transition, JTP Sup. 15 Sheffield Academic Press, 190;


     [lxxvii] Adrian Hastings, 1979: A History of African Christianity 1950-1975, Cambridge University Press, 67; Allan Anderson, 2000: African Reformation: African Initiated Christianity in the Twentieth Century, Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.


     [lxxviii] See Allan Anderson, 2000: Evangelism and the Growth of Pentecostalism in Africa, a lecture at the Center for Missiology and World Christianity, University of Birmingham, UK.


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