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Regional News Sun, 18 Jun 2006

Confusion at Sekondi Anglican Church

Sekondi, June 18, GNA - Parishioners of the Anglican Community within Western Region on Sunday had the shock of their lives when they arrived at the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, The Apostle of the Anglican Church for a thanksgiving service only to find the youth playing brass band music continuously for more than four hours. Right Reverend John K. Otoo, Bishop of Sekondi Diocese of Anglican Church, had invited the parishioners to attend "a reconciliatory thanksgiving service at the Cathedral but the brass band music made it impossible for the Bishop to fulfil the function."

Reverend Father Amprofi Tawiah, the Parish Priest was delivering the sermon around 09.20 hours on the theme "Love conquers enemies" when Bishop Otoo and his entourage including Bishop Mattias Bodohe, Anglican Bishop of Ho Diocese and Mr Justice Amua Sakyi, a Chancellor of the Church, entered the Cathedral.

Rev. Tawiah on seeing Bishop Otoo and his entourage entering, stopped his message and the youth started drumming, dancing, singing and praying turning the entire Cathedral into a state of confusion with no clear leader and direction.

Bishop Otoo and Bodohe stood behind the alter waiting for the confusion to settle but rather the drumming and dancing intensified and cloths covering the alter were pulled away by an unidentified person and left the alter uncovered.

Bishop Otoo at a point joined the enthusiastic crowd of dancers but again the drumming and dancing did not stop and some choristers, ushers and wardens removed their robes and went home.

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Mr Justice Amua Sakyi, stood speechless while all efforts by some members of the church to restrain the youth proved futile. The Bishops and their assistants realising that the youth were not prepared to stop playing the drums and dancing started praying while some members of the church also joined in.

Six policemen detailed to ensure law and order were overwhelmed at the situation and called for re-enforcement but that did not help to bring the situation under control.

The police managed to drive the entire congregation out of the Cathedral and calm returned but hooting, shouting and trading of insults continued unceasingly.

Speaking to some members of the congregation later, Lawyer Joseph Abekah, Registrar of the Church said behaviour of the youth was illegal and must be condemned.

He said the leadership of the church would not hesitate to prosecute all who contributed to the confusion. Bishop Otoo later told the few supporters that the church would go back to court for further directives.

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It would be recalled that two factions in the Diocese on June 6, signed an undertaking at a Sekondi High Court to ensure that none of them disrupted each other during worship.

The groups are made up of supporters of Bishop Otoo and those who are against his election and enthronement as Bishop of the Diocese. Those against Bishop Otoo, claimed he did not secure the required votes at the January 4, 2004 synod to qualify as the Bishop and the Cathedral had since then been thrown into a state of confusion. On January 24, this year, some parishioners of the Cathedral allegedly broke away from the mother church and a Sekondi High Court on March 15 banned 13 members of the group from entering or interfering with activities of Bishop Otoo.

Members of the group were William Daniels, Kwame Benyarku, Charles Morgue, Reverend Father Jacob A. Welbourne, Nanabanyin Arbuah, Priest Warden, Mrs Christine Gwira, People's Warden, Emmanuel Papa Assan and Fiifi Assan.

The rest were Augustus Quaye, Kofi Abbey Hart and Ransford Apau. After the court order, red flags were hoisted at the Cathedral and on Sunday March 19, the Western Regional Coordinating Council (WRCC) closed down the Cathedral to safeguard lives and property.

The letter closing down the Cathedral indicated that there could be a clash between supporters and opponents of Bishop Otoo.

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Bishop Otoo, not satisfied with the action of the WRCC, cited Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, former Western Regional Minister, Mr Kofi Duku Arthur, Western Regional Police Commander and Mr Leonard Blay, Western Regional Security Coordinator for contempt of court. The three appeared before a Sekondi High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga on April 4.

At the court were Ms Valerie Amate, Principal State Attorney, Mr George F.Y. Kpodo, Senior State Attorney and Mr Samuel P. Akufo, a Senior State Attorney from the Western Regional Attorney General's Department (AG's) to represent the three REGSEC members while Lawyer J. Amua-Sakyi represented Bishop Otoo

The AG's department had in addition to the affidavit in opposition of the suit, filed another application asking the court to determine the matter in chambers and the application by Bishop Otoo should be declared null and void.

Source: GNA