“Thank you for your prayers and support for the Presbytery of Lake Erie trip to the Upper Northern Presbytery of Ghana in September. Ghana is a mountainous, lush, green corner of Africa. It is roughly the size of Minnesota. Ghanaians are warm, jovial, and entrepreneurial. In this beautiful country, through noble, faith-filled people, I experienced God at work in many ways!” Seph Kumer
Seph Kumer, First Covenant Director of Community Engagement, and Bill Tauber, a First Covenant Trustee, joined Dr. David Oyler, Presbyter of the Presbytery of Lake Erie, on this mission trip to Ghana. Below is a reflection from Seph on this journey:
A global Church…
Though we visited a dozen congregations throughout Ghana, we worshiped with only two, one in a northern town (Sunday) and one in a crowded capitol city market (Wednesday). Each is part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church/Ghana, one of two major Presbyterian denominations in Ghana partnered with our PC-USA. Each is part of our “Lake Erie-Ghana Upper Northern Presbytery Partnership”.
It was encouraging to see the (“big C”) Church of Jesus-followers so robust and so out-ward-focused in another part of the world. The sizeable Saboba chapel was packed while another small adjacent building was jammed with perhaps 75 children participating in a children’s worship/faith formation time. The Accra Yam Market congregation met in a small, dimly lit building in the midst of a colorful, sprawling market. It was a beacon of hope for those who lived and shopped in miles of outdoor commerce.
Worship in Ghana included familiar elements: The Apostle’s Creed and Lord’s Prayer (in a local language). Children reading multiple scripture passages (English and local language). Communion. Offering. Choirs. Singing hymns and choruses. A sermon. Prayer. Even: “God is good-All the time. All the time-God is Good.”And worship included a few less-familiar elements: dancing, multiple offerings where worshipers brought their gifts forward, a choir processional/recessional. Passionate drumming. Joyful movement. Our Presbyterian brothers and sisters in Ghana share much in common with us. What a joy to experience the “connectional” church we are a part of, the Presbyterian Church, worshiping God and making
disciples, all over the globe!
What $30 can do! …
We learned a Ghanaian proverb: “If you want to carry a heavy load, you must first raise the load to your knee, then others will assist you with raising it up to be carried on your head.” We witnessed so many in Ghana balancing their wares on trays and bowls and boxes upon their heads. This proverb is exemplified in our Lake Erie/Ghana Presbyteries Partnership.
I have wondered exactly how our “per capita” is used by the Presbytery and national PC-USA denomination… I admit that in my 20 years in Erie I have rarely added a per capita payment to my annual giving. (Did you know FPCC pays the $30 per member whether we each contribute it or not? Can you imagine the extra boost to the church budget if we each paid this in addition to our regular giving? 400 member x $30 = $12,000!) After seeing the fruit of the partnership that has formed over 10 years between Lake Erie and Upper Northern Ghana, and largely supported by per capita, I can’t wait to make the payment this year!
$30 enables exciting, life-changing, partner ministry: We’ve helped roof a worship chapel where foundation and walls were built by a congregation in Bimbila village, a growing rural community of migrants from other countries, with a young new pastor, where the Muslim mosque nearly touches the Presbyterian Church.
We’ve helped bring a dormant, pest-infected medical clinic back to life in rural Wapuli, the only clinic around for many miles. The administrators and nursing staff there are so passionate and committed they’ve worked, unpaid, for five months as they await clinic reimbursements for treating patients covered under the Ghana
national insurance plan.
We’ve helped fund an educational and outreach computer center ministry of a congregation in Yendi. The congregation built and furnished the center so local school children and neighbors can learn computing basics on laptops Lake Erie has provided.
We’ve helped purchase 6 motorcycles for pastors who lead up to 10 congregations each. We’ve provided a scholarship for a pastor receiving seminary training. And we’ve assisted the family (education for children) of one of our partner pastors who was killed in an accident last year. Each congregation and ministry we’ve touched is growing, thriving, expanding, sharing (with gusto!) God’s love in Jesus. Your per capita payment has been multiplied!