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General News Sat, 26 Dec 1998

Ghanaians mark Christmas with services and family re-unions

Accra, Dec. 25 Church services, family re-unions, get-togethers and the cracking of fireworks marked this year's Christmas celebrations in various parts of the country.

The celebrations continue to have a secular touch rather than a pure Christian festival as people from all walks of life joined in the feast.

In Accra, many churches were packed to the full with ''occasional church-goers'' jostling for seats with the regulars ones. Other religious activities included conventions by the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches.

Early this morning, Vice-President John Atta Mills appealed for safe driving during the Yuletide, decrying the wanton deaths on the roads through reckless driving.

He urged the public, in a Ghana Television Breakfast Show, to refuse to travel on vehicles driven by drunken persons and be courageous to caution over-speeding drivers.

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The Vice-President appealed for national unity and oneness of purpose in tackling the many problems facing the country.

He said "1999 will not be a rosy year. We need to do more to get the economy going, especially our agriculture''.

Last night, some major churches in Accra rescheduled their services to two-hours to allow their flock to return home safely in view of the recent spate of mystery murders in parts of Accra.

This morning, however, the picture was different. As early as six o'clock in the morning, many were seen briskly making their way to their places of worship despite having their sleep disturbed by the sound of fire crackers which echoed across the city on Christmas eve.

Most Charismatic churches which organise conventions around this time and orthodox ones were packed to capacity as Christians eagerly awaited messages from evangelists and bishops.

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At the Holy Spirit Cathedral, the Reverend Father Patrick Sawie, asked Christians to be agents of peace and joy within their localities.

Preaching on the theme ''We are all called to be with the people and agents of joy and peace'', Rev. Sawie said Christmas is an occasion of cosmic joy - joy of the elderly, the poor and the young in society.

He said Jesus Christ, whose birth Christians the world over are celebrating today, came into this world in a humble way, ''showing us how important it is, as his followers, to be very humble in everything that we do''.

Rev Sawie said Christmas does not mean merry making, profusion of drinks, stylish dresses or outward show of affluence but a time to bring joy and happiness into people's life.

''There are so many beggars on our streets, many poor people in our societies - how many are you going to feed today?

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''Remember that God has called you today to be his agent and feed at least one of such people today''.

Rev. Fr. John Amoah, an Associate Administrator and the Main Celebrant, prayed for peace, unity, love and prosperity for the nation.

At the Presbyterian Church of Resurrection in Accra, Reverend Dr. Janice Nessibou-Kirksey, Mission Co-Worker from the United States, called on Christians to exercise self-control, compassion and the desire to serve God and mankind.

"These characteristics are the marks of a true Christian and, when fully practised, would make the world a better place to live in''.

Rev Nessibou-Kirksey, who preached on the theme ''A saviour is born for us'', said the birth of Christ signifies salvation and hope for mankind which can best be achieved through forgiveness.

"There is, therefore, the need to give in reciprocation to what Jesus gave us, the gift of forgiveness''.

She said the world is experiencing a lot of changes, and more people are hungry for the word of God, citing the permission by the Cuban government for the people to observe December 25 as a public holiday as an example.

The over 500 people who attended the Christmas day service were entertained to a drama and recital on the birth of Christ to the accomplishment of his mission on earth by the children.

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