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Speak up against political vigilantism-Methodist Bishop challenges church

BY: Benjamin Glover & Della Russel Ocloo
• The MCE of Tema, Mr Felix Anang-La (middle), in an interaction with the Very Rev. Samuel Ofori-Akyea (right), the newly elected Diocesan Bishop, while Rt Rev. Thomas Brown Forson (left), looks on. PIX- DELLA RUSSEL OCLOO
• The MCE of Tema, Mr Felix Anang-La (middle), in an interaction with the Very Rev. Samuel Ofori-Akyea (right), the newly elected Diocesan Bishop, while Rt Rev. Thomas Brown Forson (left), looks on. PIX- DELLA RUSSEL OCLOO

The Bishop of the Tema Diocese of the Methodist Church, Ghana, the Rt Rev. Thomas Brown Forson, has challenged the church to speak up against political vigilantism.

Addressing the 22nd Synod of the Tema Diocese of the church in Tema yesterday, he said it would be a disservice to God and mankind for the church, which wields so much influence in society, to keep mute while vigilantism continued to threaten the peace and security of the nation.

The synod is being attended by delegates from the 17 circuits that form the Tema Diocese.

The five-day event, on the theme: “Disciple-making, the key to qualitative and quantitative growth of the church”, will also see the election of a new lay chairperson for the diocese, following the end of tenure of the present Lay Chairperson, Mr Richard S. Quarshie.

Fear of God

Quoting extensively from the scriptures, Rt Rev. Forson said a nation that feared God would see progress.

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“God has blessed our nation with peace under the rule of law and we must protect the peace by showing gross dislike and disapproval for such groups that seek to topple the peace of our nation, he said.

He called on church leaders to sensitise their congregations and the general society to the act that could threaten the peace of Ghana and the need to disband vigilante groups touphold the rule of law in steering the affairs of the nation.

Prosecute

The bishop, who devoted much time to vigilantism, also called on the government to prosecute members of vigilante groups whose actions fell foul of the law.

According to him, incidents of political vigilantism recorded in the country were a clear manifestation of lawlessness which did not augur well for the nation and called on the relevant security agencies to arrest and prosecute persons associated with such groups who were bent on creating problems for society.

In the past, he said, vigilante groups were formed as community watch groups which protected communities against thievery and also ensured orderliness.
Rt Rev. Forson expressed regret that the groups had taken on a bad image, with many such groups with political colours springing up across the country.

Attack on journalists

The bishop, who would soon complete his final term as the head of the diocese, similarly condemned attacks on journalists in the performance of their duties.

“In every democratic dispensation, everybody has the right to say something,” he said, pointing out, however, that it must be done constructively.
He urged the media to undertake their work based on facts, rather than fabrications, distortions and exaggeration.

Stewardship

Giving account of his stewardship, Rt Rev. Forson said the diocese had grown spiritually and numerically, in line with the church’s vision to build a vibrant spirit-filled and spirit-led church for the holistic transformation of society.

While commending the leadership and members of the church for their diverse contributions towards the growth of the diocese, he reminded the congregation that discipleship was a process and not an event, “and as a church it is the duty of members to go out into the world and win more souls for the Kingdom of God”.

Collaboration

The Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Felix Anang-La, commended the church for its numerous contributions to the socio-economic development of the country.

He urged the leadership of the diocese to continue to partner with the TMA in the fight against insanitary conditions in the metropolis.

Mr Anang-La expressed regret that a huge chunk of revenue generated by the assembly which could have gone into the provision of developmental needs was spent on sanitation.

He said the attitude of residents of the metropolis in relation to sanitation issues was the cause of the sanitation challenges in Tema.

“We need an all-inclusive approach in tackling the menace and I see the church as a vital stakeholder in arresting poor sanitation in the city of Tema,” he said.
 
New Bishop

The incoming Bishop of the diocese, the Very Rev. Samuel Ofori-Akyea, for his part, gave an assurance that the church would continue with its evangelistic mandate and pursue the vision of making disciples in the 17 circuits in which it operated  and beyond.

The Diocesan Lay Chairman, Mr Quarshie, in his remarks, said the synod would provide an opportunity for the church to take stock of what it had achieved by way of church growth, finance, education, agriculture, health, sanitation and youth development, among other sectors of church growth.

That, he said, would enable the church to strategise and improve on its mandate in the coming years.