Ghanaians began the new year 2021 with optimism, hope of recovery and restoration after a challenging 2020 year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Christians ended the year with various watchnight services, the messages delivered from leaders centred on the need to strive for peace and unity, as well as restoration.
As a highly anticipated event on the Christian calendar lately, the watchnight and first Sunday of the new year services became the catalysts to resume church service fully, albeit strictly adhering to the safety protocols.
Many churches with the compound to accommodate large numbers held their watchnight services outdoor to allow for social distancing, while strictly enforcing handwashing and face mask wearing throughout the services.
As it were, the usual business of hugging, hand shakes, and waving of handkerchief, especially during the signing of praises and songs of adorations, were missing.
In a special message, the Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), Rev. Dr Godwin Nii Noi Odonkor, encouraged Ghanaians, regardless of their political, religious and ethnic differences, to embrace peace, to keep the country united in its quest for development.
He warned that the country would disintegrate if the citizens failed to protect the peace they had.
Rev. Dr Odonkor stressed the need for people to be at peace with themselves and one another to ensure that the promise of Jesus Christ on peace did not become a facade.
“As a nation, it is important that we dearly embrace peace, regardless of our political, religious and ethnic differences,” he said.
The District Minister of the Kaneshie District of the PCG, Rev. Enoch Adjei Pobee, in his sermon at the Kaneshie Congregation, said 2021 would be a year of recovery and restoration.
‘Don’t give up’
At the Hope Congregation of the PCG at the Sakumono Estates in the Tema metropolitan area, the service was streamed online to enable members who could not participate in the in-person event, reports Benjamin Xornam Glover.
The Sakumono District Minister, Rev. Emmanuel Obeng Ntow, encouraged Ghanaians in general and Christians in particular not to give up in spite of the impact of COVID-19 accompanied by untold hardship on all aspects of human life.
“Do not let your hands be weak. Do not give up when the fire of sickness, death, joblessness, marriage crisis, disappointment, is crouching at your door all these months or years,” he said.
At Christ the King Anglican Church, also in Sakumono, the Parish Priest, Rev. Father Roland Kpoanu, in his New Year sermon on the theme: "Trust in God", admonished the congregants to be undismayed in their trust in God in 2021.
He said in times of hopelessness, fear, anxiety and suffering amidst Covid-19, “God has not disappointed us, hence Christians must learn to completely entrust themselves to him”.
Significance of 21
The Apostle General of the Royalhouse Chapel, Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah, gave an insight into the number 21, and said the number had some hidden numbers.
He said when one falls within 21, that person was carved for a life of success, explaining that Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, born on September 21, was a typical example of the success associated with such personalities.
“When Jesus Christ was mentioning angels, he unconsciously mentioned it 21 times throughout His ministry. It was not coincidental. 21 means angels. Angels are coming, coming to do something in the world,” he said.
The Apostle General, therefore, called on Christians to pray, and to know that God would send an angel to bring them answers, adding that “This year, expect angelic visitations”.
From Bolgatanga, Vincent Amenuveve reports that a Catholic Priest at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese, Rev. Father Joseph Atabase, called on Ghanaians and people around the world to always be thankful to God for the many blessings and mercies bestowed on them in the year 2020 although the year was fraught with the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said people, especially Christians, needed to cultivate the habit of thanksgiving to God instead of asking God to fulfil their respective desires all the time, describing such acts as “unfair treatment meted out to God”.
Rev. Fr Atabase observed that the country had also undergone the presidential and parliamentary elections successfully and peacefully.
Meanwhile many other churches in the Bolgatanga Municipality, a predominantly Christian community, held vigils to usher in the New Year, with the event accompanied by the firing of fire crackers as 2021 broke.
God in control
From the St Peter's Catholic Church at Asuoyeboa in the Kumasi Archdiocese, Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor reports that parishioners thronged the church and danced away their potential worries of the previous year, as they welcomed the New Year with joy.
Both young and old could not hide their joy for making it to the new year despite the challenges.
Just when the clock struck midnight, the entire church, including the parish priest, Rev. Fr Michael Kwaku Boahene, shouted with joy as they sang praises to God and danced away the old year.
Earlier in his homily, Rev. Fr Boahene asked the parishioners not to worry about anything, but to commit every endeavour into God's hands.
He said if for nothing at all, 2020 had taught the world that God was in control of the world, and that tomorrow was never promised, and urged all to give thanks to God in everything.
At the Calvary Charismatic Centre at Ayigya, the situation was not any different as members, dressed in white clothing, waited for the clock to strike midnight to celebrate God's grace.
The residence pastor of the church, Rev. Joshua Obeng, asked religious leaders and all Ghanaians to pray for the judges who would be empanelled to hear the election petition.
Some churches, including the Perez Chapel and the Loyalty House of the Lighthouse Group of Churches, joined their headquarters for the New Year messages, reports Shirley Asiedu Addo from Cape Coast.
A pastor of the Loyalty House, Rev. Paschal Godwyll, admonished Christians to have a renewed commitment to serve God, and not only on the last day of the year.
At the Wesley Methodist Cathedral and the Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, worshippers prayed to thank God for the year 2020, and welcomed 2021 with praises to God.
Giving his New year message, the Catholic Archbishop of Cape Coast, Most Rev. Gabriel Palmer Buckle, urged all to thank God for 2020, and to pray for God’s guidance and his will for 2021.
He encouraged all to appreciate their Africanness work to build better communities for themselves and for posterity.