By Kwasi Frimpong
I was seated at the last but one row at the last column of the auditorium. Just a row shy away from being thrown out of the main auditorium to sit under the beautifully erected canopies outside of the auditorium.
This told me that, indeed, ‘we are not in normal times’ today.
Since June, when churches were partially reopened, following the relaxing of some of the Covid-19 restrictions, I have, for most part of my time in the church, sat on the seats just after the seats reserved for the leaders of the church. As a personal principle, I love to sit in front whenever I am in church, and though I am a habitual late comer to a number of places, I am always the first or among the first to arrive in church so that I can have a seat on the first row.
And on this day, I wasn’t going to miss church service for all the rice in Vietnam or ‘brobe’ (Colocasia esculenta) in my village, Twifo Hemang. Not on the day that Rev Theophilus Klottey Odonkor, a man I have admired from afar since joining the Calvary Love Assemblies of God this year, is going to be installed as the lead pastor of the church.
I had attended the Friday’s Carols Night Service organised by the Children’s Ministry and had travelled throughout the night, after the Service, to Kumasi to inaugurate the Kumasi Technical University Chapter of the Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG), together with my other colleague National Executive Committee (NEC) members of GRASAG National.
After the inauguration, and looking at the traffic in Kumasi (probably due to the upcoming Christmas), I had been advised to stay and leave on Monday with the first flight or leave at dawn when the traffic would be somewhat less. But how could I have stayed and missed the installation service? So, I set off to the Asafo Neoplan station to get for myself the next available VIP bus to Accra.
I got to Accra around 4am and decided to get some of my pages through to my boss for Monday’s publication since I knew I wasn’t going to get home early on this Sunday. By the time I was done with work and finished ironing and polishing my shoes, I realised the ‘spirit is willing but the flesh was weak.’ I took a short nap to help me get back to my feat and quickly prepared for church.
The time for church service had been announced by a beautiful ‘small in size’ young lady on the Friday night, that it was going to be at 8:00 am since there would be only one service.
I got to the church around 8:20am, just at the time that Sunday School was about to start. I am a student of the youth English class and so Brother Paul (as I have come to know his name) was the one who started. Soon after he had started, Rev Dodzi took over.
Sunday School was on the topic “The Joy Christ Brings” and the Central Truth was “Christ’s birth is a special reason for the word to rejoice”. Pastor Dodzi has a special way of teaching Sunday School which makes him finish the entire lesson in a short while. The lesson text was taken from Luke 2.
The lesson focused on the ‘Miraculous birth of Christ’, the ‘Angelic Announcement’ and the ‘Joyful response’ from the world following the birth of the ‘soon coming King’.
I got to the church, some 20 minutes late, and already the place was almost full. Having been a part of the church for at least five months, getting to church some 20 minutes late from the announced time and meeting almost a packed room was definitely not usual.
So, after Sunday School, I quickly moved to a place I have made almost my permanent sitting place whenever I am in the church. This style of making a particular place a permanent sitting place, if you go to the place often, was learnt when I was reading my Masters at the School of Communication, University of Ghana. As part of the arrangement of the school, where you sit for the first time when you enter the classroom will be your place of sitting for the rest of your years in the school. This makes for easy identification, among other advantages.
But this time, soon after I had sat, was I asked to move back. I moved some few rows back and was later asked to move to the last but one row. Clearly, this was not a normal Sunday.
I was asked to move back and reserve the seats for the young men and women who were beautifully clad in white and black apparel.
That in itself, a beautiful sight to behold, told of the relevance of the day. Different groups in the church were unusually in ‘different but same’ apparel. Apparently, these young men and women in black and white were the Church’s mass choir. To be honest, having been in the church for close to five months, I did not know there existed a mass choir in the church.
I always see beautiful young women and handsome young men leading ‘Praises and Worship’ in the church. But that is all that I know them for, the church’s Singing Ministry. But this well-defined mass choir was like a new thing for me. And for the first time, I saw them using the Assemblies of God hymn book, something equally unusual too.
Aside from the choir (as I came to know them) was the many other groups (men ministry, women ministry, children’s service, young singles etc) who were also in different attire. One other group whose dress code caught my attention was the “Ministers’ wives”. I have been an AG for a while now. Back in my undergraduate days at the University of Education, Winneba, I was an Assemblies of God Campus Ministries (AGCM) Prayer Secretary and a member of the Sunday School teachers’ team. I later became the AGCM Schools Coordinator, coordinating the many Senior High Schools in our area. I have seen different ‘uniforms’ in AG, but the “Ministers’ Wives’ cloth, to be honest, this was the first time I was seeing one.
If I have ever seen a ‘wives’ cloth before, it was when I attended a programme organised by POWA (Police Wives Association) and not Ministers of AG. But clearly, we are not in normal times.
Then the service began and two Masters of Ceremony (MCs) took microphones. My mind quickly went back to my AGCM days on campus when I was the ‘unofficial official’ MC for almost all AGCM and Chaplaincy activities. But then again, for the few months I have been here, there has been no MC business. The Service has been that, often, Pastor Dodzi, Pastor Gyamfi or our French Interpreter will start with opening prayer and soon after that, the Singing Ministry will take over, followed by the pastor for the sermon and that’s it, no MC business. But today there are MCs and the praises and worship was equally unusual. The typical AG praises and worship was felt. Clearly, we are not in normal times today.
Rev Dr Richard Osei-Asante, Madina District Pastor of the Assemblies of God church, not my resident pastor, was the speaker for the day. Speaking on ‘Becoming Leaders of Excellence’ the Rev Dr urged Christian leaders, especially, pastors to commit to excellence by eschewing all tendencies that bring the Christian faith into disrepute.
Dwelling on the Biblical text of Acts 20:25-38, he asked them to keep watch over themselves by guarding against false teachings and unforgiveness and also urged pastors to shepherd the church of God and leave the work of partisan politics to people who have opted to do so.
He further urged Christian leaders to commit themselves to the study of the bible and free themselves from self-interest.
The big event
Shortly after the sermon was the installation of Rev Odonkor as the lead pastor, an exercise which was officiated by the Assemblies of God Greater Accra Regional Secretary.
Rev Odonkor was asked to proclaim, before God and the people gathered in the church, the number of which I have never witnessed since I joined the church, to commit to the shepherding of the church and to see to its growth.
Rev Odonkor’s installation, officially, makes him the head-pastor of Calvary Love Assemblies of God following the demise of the former head pastor of the church.
In his inaugural address, Rev Odonkor expressed appreciation to the Greater Accra Regional leadership of the church for recommending him as the lead pastor of the church.
He has been acting as the head pastor since March 24, 2019 and promised to allow God to use him to transform the Calvary Love Assembly of the church.
Rev Dr Osei-Asante expressed happiness for having Rev Odonkor at the Madina district of the church.
“We as pastors in the District are delighted to be associated with the ministry of our brother. We are satisfied to welcome you into our distinguished group of pastors who have demonstrated intellectual and spiritual integrity in our diverse way of ministries,” he said.
Clearly this was not a normal Sunday Service. It was a Sunday apportioned to welcome Rev Theophilus Klottey Odonkor and it was a service worth the day.
Congratulations Rev and Welcome.