Group against sharing of EP Church’s properties

BY: Salomey Appiah
Mr Eddie Ashiagbor(left) vice president of the Defenders of the faith, addressing the press at a meeting in Accra. Seated 3rd right is Mr Gobah Tengey, the Senior Presbyter of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church Ghana and other presbyters. Picture: Gabriel Ahiabor

The Defendants of the Faith, a group in the Evangelical Presbyterian (EP) Church, Ghana, has threatened to march against its leadership if it does not stop attempts to share the church’s properties with the Global Evangelical Church (GEC), a breakaway church from the EP Church.

They said they would further sue the leadership of the EP Church for contempt since the case was already in court for settlement if they went ahead with their decision.

According to the group, while the reconciliation committee established by the leadership of the EP Church was a fluke, the committee in charge of sharing the properties also had no locus in the matter.

At a press conference in Accra, the group insisted that, the leadership of the church did not have any right to share the properties since it belonged to the members of the church and that they had the right to decide on how those properties were used.

The GEC broke away from the EP Church in the 1980s over constitutional and doctrinal differences. The properties include church buildings, schools, training colleges, health facilities, lands and farms.

Court case

The president of the Defendants of the Faith, Mr Gobah Tengay, explained that their members, who were senior presbyters, had been going to the court for the past 20 years and were still in court over the sharing of the EP church properties.

He said the group took the case to court and that some EP church assemblies, including those at South La-Accra, Amakom in Kumasi and Agbozume, won their respective cases.

Currently, he said, the Dzelukope, Anloga, Dabala and Obuasi assemblies were those still in court and that the decision to share the peoperties must wait until the court passed its judgement on the matter.

According to him attempts to discuss issues with the leadership of the EP Church had not been fruitful since they did not respond to their calls or invitation.

He emphasised that the group would not yield in their resolve because, “no church in history has ever claimed the properties of its mother church because it broke away.”

The vice-president of the group, Mr Eddie Ashiagbor, alleged that the leadership of the church “has a motive for wanting to share the properties. They should start from the EP Church headquarters at Ho and share what they have with the GEC before they come to the other assemblies,” he stated.

Mr Ashiagbor further stated that the congregation that owned the properties was neither consulted nor involved in the sharing process.
On why they cannot reconcile, Mr Ashiagbor said the two churches had different doctrines in their modes of worship, saying, “It is patently obvious that the two are like chalk and cheese — no convergence whatsoever in the modes of worship.”
The EP Church is Presbyterian by doctrine while the GEC has a Pentecostal form of worship.

Background to split of the EP Church

The EP Church split in the early 1980s over constitutional disagreements on the terms of office of the moderator and doctrinal differences.

The leader at the centre of the controversy, Right Rev. Prof. Noah Komla Dzobo, was elected Moderator of the church in 1981 and he took over as the eighth indigenous moderator of the EP Church.

In 1983, he caused to be printed and circulated within the church a constitution allegedly said to have been written at the joint synod of the church held at Betannia, Lome in Togo, from February 14–18, 1980.

That constitution contained a controversial provision in Article 31 which stipulated that a moderator or synod clerk could be elected as many times as possible to office, provided he was capable.

After a long legal tussle, the EP Church was split into EP Church Ghana and EP Church of Ghana, which later became the GEC, on the orders of an Accra High Court.

After many years of fighting in the courts and sometimes physically, calm returned and the two churches co-existed peacefully, with the leadership attending each other’s synod.