Ecumenical Practices in Tema-By Ekow Abeka-Afari

Fortunes of Ecumenical Fortitude
Joint Church-the ancient and modern
From my perspective, there is some distinction between JOINT CHURCH and The TEMA JOINT CHURCH (TJC). JOINT CHURCH essentially refers to JOINT ACTION particularly ECUMENICAL SERVICE. TEMA JOINT CHURCH (TJC) specifically refers to the present Ecumenical Congregation at the Tema Joint Church Centre (JCC) that has its foundations from the Tema industrial Mission Programme (TIM) of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) also referred to as Industrial Evangelism.

In this discourse, I am neither reviewing nor evaluating the TJC. I am recalling my memories of what JOINT CHURCH used to be and how I got involved in the birth and growth of the current TJC. We used to patronize the JOINT CHURCH as our involvement in JOINT ACTIONS of the Main Line Congregations. I used to worship in the then Tema North Presbyterian Church, now Trinity Congregation. In a subsequent chapter in this narration, I will give better and further particulars in the best way my memories can help, beyond the highlights contained in this chapter. Whatever I am able to remember is my personal story. I am writing neither for nor on behalf of the TJC.

There are merits in reckoning the TJC as part of Tema Ecumenical gains. JOINT CHURCH had rolled out as a programme sometime past. That programme originated as an Ecumenical one-off concept. Churches came together for JOINT CHURCH SERVICES as part of the JOINT ACTIONS of the Main Line Catholic and Protestant Church Denominations that constituted the TEMA LOCAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES (TLCC). The TEMA INDUSTRIAL MISSION (TIM) co-ordinated those JOINT CHURCH SERVICES and other JOINT ACTIONS to give voice and action to Ecumenical development in Tema, for which the TEMA INDUSTRIAL MISSION (TIM) programme was put in place and for which the JOINT CHURCH CENTRE (JCC) was also built. Entrenched Denominationalism and cultivation of multiple Congregations against the Ecumenical objectives however killed the original concept and activity.

TJC's existence as a Congregation today emerged from the desire of a very respectable group of Christ-honoring people, for a shorter English-speaking ecumenical Congregation. It took that group, the Tema Industrial Mission (TIM) team, the leadership of the Tema Ecumenical Committee (TEC) and the Tema Local Council of Churches (TLCC) to come to a convergence to put the desire into action. The convergence sought to revive and refine the old concept from a one-off programme to a regular Congregation. That worked out well and that is how come the original JOINT CHURCH has transformed and triumphed into TEMA JOINT CHURCH and remains what it is today. It all began in 1992.

Rev. Dr. Godwin Nii-Noi Odonkor, who is also currently the Ga Presbytery Chairman of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), was the Director of the Tema Industrial Mission (TIM) programme of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG). TIM was in charge of Ecumenical co-ordination in Tema and the TEMA JOINT CHURCH CENTRE (JCC). It was Rev Nii-Noi Odonkor who led the cultivation of the new concept that has made the TJC what it is today. It means that if the current TJC exists it is because the TIM was in place and had the human, material and other resources to embrace the new concept and make things happen.

Leadership of the various Ecumenical arms like the Tema Ecumenical Committee (TEC), the Tema Local Council of Churches (TLCC) and the Tema Industrial Mission (TIM) neither converged nor played their roles in their personal capacities. They got involved and gave voice on behalf of the units that they represented. It was out of that convergence that the TJC was endorsed to emerge with a new Ecumenical identity.

Just as Man is the crown of creation so can it be said that Tema Joint Church (TJC) today is the crown of all Ecumenical gains in Tema. It is possible for TJC's existence to fortify all Ecumenical achievements and give promise to new Ecumenical opportunities. In both material and spiritual dimensions, there are already splendid evidence of how the Holy Spirit has worked its manifestations in the Church. All of those outcomes live on as marks of Ecumenical achievements in Tema. It is the way God intends things to be for which we must all thank Him.

Personal Memories

Even though I have great memories of a lot of events of the TJC from August 1992, my immediate objective focuses on telling my personal story from my personal involvement and observation in the cultivations of the TJC. My anticipation is that the TJC as a body will someday tell its own unique story in a more profound way that can chronicle events from its birth. Generating historic facts from its own records will show better consistency, authenticity and timeline accuracy. I have decided to limit myself to events that give reason to my strong retention of their memories. I know I cannot even tell it all but the little I can remember still remains refreshing to me.

The very first TJC organist was a lady called Ms. Adjetey (I deeply regret I miss her full name). I have no idea of where she is located now but I can testify to the sincerity she applied to volunteerism of time and talent to the service of God and man in the TJC. Many other such initial volunteers deserve to be enshrined in the memory and history of the Church. I know that there are people most qualified to express authentic recognitions to early volunteers in a much better way. I do not claim to have any such authority. I am only narrating my memories as an individual who has some personal knowledge and experiences to share.

My tenure as Administrator of the Tema Industrial Mission (TIM) and Warden of the Joint Church Centre (JCC) gave me a delightful privilege to serve on the Tema Joint Church Council (TJCC) in its very first eight years. They were delightfully challenging days and moments considering the limitations of the JCC facility at that time. My participation in Council decisions, determinations and actions from 1992 offered me far-reaching familiarities with growth and progressions of the TJC. The advancements that I see today at every given time reflect profound fortitude and optimism of the people who applied their time, treasure and talents to fruitful efforts. Many of them have gone ahead of us into higher realms but their memories and works deserve to live on. People are remembered not for living for themselves but for living for others. It takes selflessness to live for others and that was what early volunteers demonstrated.

Memories of the role the late Rev. Commander Dan B. Oduro, the District Pastor of the Tema North Presbyterian Church (TNPC) now Trinity Congregation] at that time, and Chairman of the Tema Ecumenical Committee (TEC) and the Local Council of Churches (TLCC) played are still very refreshing and I also remember the selfless contributions of Mrs. Grace Gerber of the Church Choir and her husband in getting the TJC the Communion wares from overseas. I also recall how Uncle K. E. Chinbuah donated the huge NIV Altar Bible that is still in use today and I have also not forgotten Sister Emma Pratt who joined the Church Choir briefly in its teething period. She donated four huge floodlights that, for the very first time, illuminated the entire compound of the Joint Church Centre’s (JCC) main building. The impact was profound especially during TJC evening programmes like Carols night etc.

Sister Monica Martinson, an individual member of the Church joined the TJC along the line and even served on the Church Council. She was in décor as a business but took it upon herself and did beautiful floral decorations in the Church hall almost every Sunday for Church Service. She also once set up a Foundation that identified with the TJC. It was known as Tema Joint Church Nana Owusuwaa Foundation. I remember a bank account was even opened to that effect at the Trust Bank. I am aware that Sister Monica Martinson relocated from Tema Community Two and that must have affected her continuous membership of TJC. I do not know what has happened to the Foundation. I can only hope that its essence still holds and perhaps a follow-up on it is necessary.

The list of individuals, their commitment and impact could be tall and I guess that TJC can even tell it better and more appropriately someday, if it so wishes and desires to remember its pioneers and everything they did. Even though I was a Warden of the JCC from August 1992 to December 31 2000, like all other TIM staff, I was not appointed by the TJC. I was appointed by the TIM that was also responsible for the TJC. TIM staff worked for the TJC as well but were paid by TIM because TJC was part of the TIM as one of its sub-sets. On the strength of that, TIM incorporated narrative accounts on TJC into its (TIM) annual narrative reports to the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) through the Department of Church Relations, Theology and Research of the Christian Council of Ghana.

General support staff

As a TIM Administrator and the Warden of the JCC my mandate included, among others, the management of the entire JCC facility. I also needed to serve the interest of the TJC but had no support workers for general duties or services to generally put the facility in readiness for Sunday services. I depended on some willing Industrial Mission students, my children and friends of my children who lived around, depending on who were available at every given time. The entire TIM student population would daily maintain the compound but their absence during the weekends was quite often noticeable. Neither TIM nor TJC had any capacity to employ any additional labor. Those were the days I would pray to God to exclude the TJC compound from any rainfall. Movement after a rainfall was very difficult. We wobbled.

Many people tend to under estimate or disregard the importance of general duties/services in an establishment. The people who disregard these institutional needs tend to be the same people who take up Church leadership positions and influence decisions because of their affluence. They hold Church leadership positions because of their power and not because of how many souls they are capable of winning or their best understanding of how Church management systems work. The perception is that certain jobs are meant for nonentities and therefore people judge lower categories of workers in that frame of mind. I have difficulty cultivating that mindset because it cannot justify recruitment of people into an organization that would not need them. Thank God TJC cannot be associated with those mental deficiencies that demean very ordinary people who give general services to it.

No one needs to be assigned with any responsibility technically far above their capacity to endure until they have acquired the requisite training for it. For that reason certain people can only handle ordinary duties that do not require special skills to do efficiently. The need to respect them for what they are capable of doing is important. The services of janitors and low-profiled very ordinary workers in a Church tend to serve our own interest. They need to feel included in the system. If in our homes we get disorganized when the garbage truck fails to turn up and if when the garden boy or the house-help unceremoniously stops work and it creates a vacuum in our homes in ways that affect the serenity of our compounds and the children's punctuality to school, then we need to understand the importance of the very ordinary workers who give us the comfort that we need each Sunday when we come to Church. Very often we do not even know such workers because they often work behind the scenes.

In the early days of the TJC, Church service began at 07.30hrs GMT. The auditorium needed to be set at least one hour before service began. I had no general duties staff for that. I cherish the memories of the services of all the young people who, in their very youthful age, would put themselves together voluntarily with my children from about 3.30am each Sunday to set up the Church hall and help fix all the gadgets in readiness for Service to begin at 07.30am. Much more was even involved, if there was a wedding in the hall the previous day, but these young people showed commitment on Sunday mornings instead of applying their time to leisure, working for their own Churches or doing something different.

Those were very delightfully challenging days, nursing a new Congregation virtually with nothing. None of the TIM staff at that time complained, volunteering to get things done and done well. Their sacrifices came from different directions that were unnoticeable by many people who were not directly involved in the routine administration of the TJC. It took a very long time before TJC could put itself together to consider some honorarium to support expenses that individual TIM staff personally incurred in the course of working for the TJC. My monthly honorarium was One hundred thousand Cedis (¢100,000) at the time I was leaving TIM on December 31, 2000. It is today's ten Ghana cedis (GHC10).


Until the TJC emerged, the Tema Industrial Mission (TIM) programme for which the JCC was built, suffered serious fiscal challenges. It affected the sustenance of best maintenance ideals for the JCC. There were very few, old and dilapidated chairs in the auditorium. The St. Stephen's Anglican Church which used the facility for its Services added a few to what the JCC originally had but they took theirs away when they relocated into their own facility across the street at about Christmas time in December of 1992. It was at that time that the TJC changed its starting time of Church service from 07.30am to 08.00am.

The Church hall became virtually empty. We were always faced with having to repair some of those dismembered chairs that showed teeth. It got to a point where we needed to rent plastic chairs every Sunday and pay for any damage that accidentally occurred. Some of the plastic chairs were not strong enough to hold heavier people. Regrettably, they used to break and crash people to the floor.

Just like events planning, many things go into preparations behind the scenes to make things happen in a Church. The early days of the TJC were not different. The Church decided to procure its own chairs, other auditorium furnishings and other resources that would facilitate Church programmes. The first set of chairs were the wooden and collapsible type. They did not prove strong enough to last. The Church went in for steel chairs that were manufactured at the light industrial area. Catechist Albert Awuah, one of the Industrial Mission field staff introduced us to the company that manufactured the steel chairs. I was tasked to follow up the orders. The office took delivery of samples. Many opinions were sought and a choice was finally made. The Church had not generated enough operating funds so an appeal was made for procurement sponsorship. The response was overwhelming and in no time enough chairs were bought to phase out the wooden folding ones and the remnants of the JCC remainders. I remember Professor K. G. Korsah arranged for the altar and cathedral chairs. I joined him on at least a couple of times to follow up during the manufacture of those furnishings.

Hymn Booklets

In the beginning, the TJC depended on the Tema Industrial Hymn Booklets that the Tema Industrial Mission (TIM) used for field work and other similar Ecumenical programmes. They were booklet with few compilations. The TIM already had an organ but had no permanent organist. Ms. Adjetey was the very first organist. It was later that Mr. Ebenezer Obeng, Mr. Emmanuel Lartey, Mr. Ebenezer Koomson, Mr. John Hayfron Eshun, Mr. Ebenezer Allotey and others followed. They did not necessarily emerge in that order. I am only trying to remember various organists who were with us in the very first decade of the TJC.

Sometimes we hadd to print out suitable hymns for specific programmes or seasons. The TIM only had a manual typewriter and an old and loud cyclostyling machine that had the capacity to struggle to survive perhaps a maximum of a hundred pages at a time without breaking down. An idea to come up with a TJC hymn book emerged and a Fred Ekuban committee was put in place for that purpose. Soon the Asempa Hymn Book was discovered to contain many of the hymns that suited various seasons and it was adopted. Even though the compilations and translations were found to have been crafted to suit the use by Secondary Schools TJC found the Asempa Hymn Book to be the best option at that time because of its Ecumenical outlook. I recall that Mr. Annor Nimako played a very important role to discover the Asempa Hymn Book and arranged for copies to be bought.

Song Ministration

Music forms part of core components of worship. The idea of a Church Choir emerged but until the first rehearsal/meeting I was undecided to be part of it. My office and schedule kept me too busy so I often worked in the night when interruptions were sure to be minimal. I was hesitant to add rehearsal hours to my working time plan. About seven people decided to begin Choir rehearsal with Mr. Ebenezer Obeng an organist and Choirmaster from Greenwich Meridian Presbyterian Church.

I was in my office at the basement during the very first rehearsal evening when I heard the group learning the hymn “ We have heard a joyful sound; Jesus saves.” I had been a Chorister before during my teenage days so I was able to figure out the strength of the group. There was no male voice and I was being distracted so I climbed to find out only to discover that indeed there was no male member of the pioneering group. It was at that point that I made the decision to help start the Church Choir. I became the eighth person in the pioneering group. My core objective was to inspire other men in the Church to show interest. To some extent it worked. The evidence of the fruits of the founding members is in the splendid renditions that the Choir is capable of delivering today.

I remember that Mr. Ebenezer Allotey, who taught music in the Community Eleven Presbyterian Secondary School, began a Youth Choir in the school. The group adopted the TJC as its place for Sunday worship just as the SOS International College had done. The group made a huge song ministration impact on the TJC and succeeded in attracting many Church music lovers and newcomers into the TJC. I was no longer at post when the group left the TJC. My understanding was that there were some agitations. Regrettably, they could not cultivate the patience to deal with them and they decided to quit the TJC.

Loyalty to service

There were many other challenges of a new beginning but they mostly presented new learning opportunities. Each new Sunday came with its own peculiarities. Jumping every new hurdle generated new strength and new ideas. The turn of each new event kept unfolding assurances of a promising Congregation. That also generated most of the necessary motivations. In several ways outcomes from innovations cultivated new driving forces behind many successful creative experiments. I will for a long time remember Ms. Victoria Lawson, the TIM Secretary already in the office at the beginning of the TJC, and whose devotion to duty was so remarkable. She was a very calm and respectful young lady. Vic, as she was affectionately called, was almost ever available and would willingly and promptly respond to any emergency secretarial call at any time. Regrettably, the schedules of certain categories of Lay Church Workers, other than the Clergy and other frontline people, more often positioned them behind the scenes. Vic was one of such TIM staff member who worked very hard and honestly for the TJC, behind the scenes.

Many people applied so much promise to the development of the TJC in its formative and teething periods. Inputs took many forms. Noticeable ones were the combined strengths of Christ-honoring people from various backgrounds who desired to establish a conducive place for endurable worship. People freely and willingly sacrificed time, talent and treasure in ways that were exceedingly enriching. It was a delight to observe how commitment became the catching culture in the TJC and how that culture generated swiftness to actions and outputs.

Church Council Secretariat

Mrs. Lena Korsah (Auntie Lena) was the very first Church Council Secretary. It must not be wrong to designate her as the Founding Secretary of the TJC. I retain refreshing memories of the story of her initiative with Mr. Seth Winfred Narh and Professor K. G. Korsah that generated the TJC concept. I saw Auntie Lena to have a passion and pulsating determination for quality, distinction, best practice and best results. I had a special admiration for her profound sense of commitment. She strongly demonstrated in all her involvements that anything that needed to be done needed to be done well. By the qualities in her personal attributes and deliveries, she taught the values in keeping disciplined standards.

I had the privilege of learning a lot from her courage of convictions and honest forth-rightness.I have benefitted from the learning opportunities in several ways. One of my finest opportunities was when I drove in her company to Accra in search of appropriate fabric for the Choir robes; when we also went to explore best tailors to sew them and when we went in search of a manufacturer of the Choir kente stoles. The quality of her choices from equally best options finally gave the TJC the mauve Choir robes with the matching kente stoles that are still in use today. She also made the very first set of offertory bags that have only recently been replaced with an upgraded version.

Church Council Chair

Professor K.G. Korsah was the very first Church Council Chairman. He is known to be one of Ghana's finest Medical Professors and a distinguished personality with overwhelming credentials. The profound attributes already noticeable in him formed part of the testimonies from Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, founder and former Director of the Korle-Bu Cardiothoracic Centre who also announced on one Sunday in the TJC that he used to be a student of Professor K. G. Korsah.

Under the auspices of the TJC Men's Fraternity, Professor Frimpong-Boateng visited the TJC to educate the Congregation about the Ghana Heart Foundation. Then he recognized Professor Korsah sitting amongst the Congregation. He paused, walked straight to Professor Korsah, paid him the deserving courtesy and shared those testimonies with the Congregation. I am unable to recount the exact date but I remember that the Men's Fraternity even gave out a donation to the Ghana Heart Foundation on that day.

Even though Professor Korsah was still in active private consulting in the early days of the TJC and his profession occupied virtually every span of his normal working sessions, issues about the TJC always attracted his prompt attention. Together with Auntie Lena and Mr. Seth Narh they met with the TIM Clergy every Monday morning to discuss issues pertaining to TJC's progress. Their commitments were great inspirations for new ecumenical thinking and new judgment.

There are still many names but the TJC will be the best to remember all. The list might just be too tall for this publication but not in the history of the TJC. The late Squadron Leader Seth Okai was very helpful when we needed to find a more permanent position for the pulpit. It is possible that its relocation will be necessary when the second phase of the Church extension project is completed.

The closer one gets to certain people the more the wisdom they are endowed with unfolds to learn from. Professor Korsah is a very soft-spoken person and I found myself highly privileged to learn a lot from him during his tenure as Council Chairman. Mrs Lena Korsah and Mr. Annor Nimako were great inspirations to me by the way they reverentially carried out their Church Council duties. In several ways they taught many things that I quietly learnt from without them noticing it. I have been blessed by what they taught and shared.

TJC is richly endowed with human capital. There were many other such people who taught many other things and inspired people by the way they carried themselves in response to duty. TIM leadership and its collaboration with other members of the Clergy in the TLCC who rotated in the TJC Sunday Pulpits as Guest Preachers contributed to prospects of a new Congregation. I enjoyed the rotation and personal contacts with Preachers either to remind them or confirm preaching appointments. Leading the liturgy was one of the experiences I acquired from the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG). The opportunity to continue in the TJC was a delightful experience that generated new spiritual growth for me.

Because my story is a narration from memory, recalling exact dates of events has been challenging. I can only say that all my fondest ecumenical memories and observations that I have narrated in this production span through August 1992 to end of December 2000 when I ceased to work for the TIM and the TLCC. I needed to take a new waiting appointment as the Ghana Outreach Director of the California-USA based Joni and Friends (JAF) Ministry with effect from January 1, 2001.

It was a new Church and Disability Outreach Ministry. It focused on cultivating appropriate cultural recognition and acceptance of disability in Church and Society. The lives of many people have been affected by physical disability for which they suffer stigmatization or exclusions in society and even in Church. The Ministry sought to lead new creations that would adjust cultural understanding to the circumstances of such people and explore feasible opportunities for their recognitions and inclusions into all Christ-honoring expressions. I was privileged to be appointed the very first Ghanaian Outreach Director outside the USA.

Membership Registration

In the beginning, Mrs. Lena Korsah introduced an attendance book. We all signed it on every Sunday after service. It was a way of monitoring the trend of patronage in the TJC. The first few Sundays recorded an average of approximately forty members each Sunday, including children. In next to no time, overwhelming rate of patronage and regular attendance forced the retirement of the notebook. The idea to introduce membership cards emerged when it became conclusive that TJC had settled and regular patrons desired membership identity and formal affiliation. Many of such people were not fascinated by denominationalism. They were convinced that the ecumenical philosophy and practices of the TJC were their best preference. In essence, this unfolds how and why the use of membership cards emerged. I believe that a TJC - ICT unit will develop a more efficient membership database if it has not already started.

The beginning of Annual General Meetings (AGM)

My fondest memory recalls the very first AGM. It was in September 1993. Ms. Mary Appiah, then a Field Member of Staff of the TIM, was the Treasurer for the Congregation. In preparation for that AGM, Mr. Yooku Korsah was assigned to write the books of accounts, prepare the financial statement of the Congregation and make the very first presentation of the very first Statement of Accounts for the period beginning August 1992.

Mr Yooku Korsah painstakingly did a fantastic job but incidentally he had to travel at the last minute. It meant that he would not be available personally to make the presentation. Rev. G.N. Odonkor who was my boss then instructed me to stand in for Mr. Yooku Korsah. I was not part of Mr Yooku Korsah's assignment so I had not a dint of idea how figures had been generated. I was working on TIM books but I had to suspend everything on my TIM schedule to study Mr. Yooku Korsah's entries, from cashbook to trial balance, from which I followed the details of what he had generated so as to also make a clearer understanding of all explanatory notes to the accounts.

By the time I mounted the platform, I was well armed with facts and figures to deliver and welcome every question. Since it was the very first AGM the Church had not done much in terms of income and expenditure even though the figures were reasonably impressive for just a year of operation. Very few questions emerged from the meeting. I am accounting literate, practically trained to manage books, from cash book to balance sheet, but that does not make me an Accountant. It was a very fulfilling day for me to present the very first Statement of Accounts of the TJC. That was not the very first time in my life but the whole process and the limited time that became available to me to prepare, gave me a new learning opportunity and experience.

Office automation

One of TIM's challenges had to do with office automation because of limited funding opportunities. Prof. K. G. Korsah was the very first person to donate his personal desktop computer to support the automation of the TIM office. I had not used a computer before and I recall how swiftly I enrolled in a computer training school upon the availability of the desktop computer from Prof. K.G. Korsah. It is a great memory recall, with a permanent sense of gratitude to Prof. K. G. Korsah.

TIM staff constituted the support strength in running the Administration of the Congregation with various inputs and backups from the various competences from individual Council members. Mr Annor Nimako was one of the very resourceful people who availed his expertise and from whom many new learning opportunities emerged. My memory recalls that he worked on the TJC membership registration forms. I was privileged to bring my knowledge in Office Management on administration from the Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) on board and I also recall the many contributions that emerged at Council meetings to decide on format and structure for membership personal data collections.

How 1st and 2nd services in other Main Line Congregations emerged

TJC's existence and suitability of its mode of worship to workers generated attractions from idling Christians in the Tema community. The existing Main Line Protestant Churches, especially those that were members of the Tema Local Council of Churches (TLCC), became apprehensive. They began complaining instead of adjusting to new trends. Many worshipers including those who had stopped patronizing their Churches because of the stressful nature of the traditional order and mode of service were found migrating into the TJC. Churches were losing their members to the TJC. When it got to breaking points the Churches that felt vulnerable developed new innovations intended to restrain their members from pulling out. They introduced what has now become known as first service that is also conducted in English devoid of the many long and boring translations. TJC was using the Asempa Hymn book. The innovation in some of the other Churches also adopted the same. The objective of the new adaptations was to win back their members. To some extent they succeeded.

Certain stimuli cause a person to either cry or laugh. Members of a Congregation would not cry but they would find ways of giving voice to their displeasure or dissatisfaction. Even though many people seemed to have discovered the TJC as a new and suitable worship terrain, something must have motivated the return of some of them to their parent Churches. I have no idea what any other motivations were apart from my strong conviction that member Churches of the Tema Local Council of Churches (TLCC) discovered new desires in their members and either re-engineered or re-strategized in ways that dealt with the pullout and threats of disaffiliation.


One other reason that must have lured the return of many of the TJC converts had to do with Congregational welfare and solidarity issues. Apparently many people had higher anticipations than they actually experienced in the TJC at that time. They must have felt disillusioned and they rather opted to retrace their steps, most especially that the introduction of 1st service in their parent Churches equally suited them.

The reality is that people have desires. It is always a desire for solace or security, power or property, prosperity or welfare. There are other desires unique to each person. These human desires determine curiosity, choices, decisions and where people's inclinations must be. Members of a congregation are not different. The Church focuses on human salvation and that is highly commendable. It means the magnitude of economic opportunities that gives strength to human existence might not be available in a Church but welfare or solidarity issues are of huge concerns to many members in all the Churches. Members find solace in the way welfare or solidarity is expressed by the Church. To get the salvation message well embraced, people need to have life first, then they can constitute themselves into a Church to learn about salvation. Members desire to feel a sense of belonging. It is part of human anticipations whether in the Church or in a secular system.

As an Ecumenical Congregation, TJC did not need to follow the standards of any particular existing Church. TJC rather needed to explore its own best solidarity standards in ways that would embrace its people and advance solidarity appearances. It also needed to ensure that its new growth did not miss out deeper recognition to social conventions that commanded conformity and judged its religious conscience. It is possible that TJC's standards in solidarity appearances must have failed to impress many people and those who missed their warmer experiences in their parent Churches began feeling the nostalgia and therefore retraced their steps.

People believe in salvation but what gives life today, to welcome salvation tomorrow, could be more urgent in human order of priorities. When the Pentecostal Churches emerged, many Main Line Protestant Churches lost their members because of various reasons that included alleged or claims of disregard to welfare expectations of members. There was virtually a mass exodus into the Pentecostal Churches and those who found fulfillment disaffiliated permanently from their parent Churches.

TJC could not have been in a position to satisfy all expectations but no opportunity needed to exist for any member to quit because of any neglect, regret or disillusionment. In a Church, people's expectations would not necessarily be monetary or economic but the physical presence or appearance of the people with whom they share fellowship and from whom they derive their consolations. Welfare practices need to merge promptly with social conventions that express solidarity to members with mindfulness of Christian principles that reasonably command conformity to values.

Church and Society
TJC has a Social Action programme that reaches out to the community. I remember Rev. Martin Jaeger's advocacy for that programme and how it began. It remains a brilliant thinking and a program worth sustaining. It is a delightful observation to make about the remarkable social impact the programme has made so far. I remember the TJC's impact on Seduase village and the co-ordination efforts of Bro. Quaye-Sowah in those days. There are many more that the TJC itself can take credit for. Perhaps collaboration with other Churches for some specific objectives will expand on TJC's ecumenical vibrancy.

My late father worked with the early Missionaries and I know also that the early Missionaries evangelized not only by the Word and Church planting but also by meeting the people in diverse ways at their point of severity. One way they touched the lives of the people was through education and healthcare delivery. One most important emphasis needs to be placed on the reality that Church collaboration or JOINT ACTIONS have better prospects to generate strength for social action and I pray that if there are other better ways by which TJC can make a difference in the community, God must reveal it in a more magnified way.

Generational Group Formation

Many of the Protestant Churches today have generational groups. It makes it easier for peer fellowship, teaching and learning. It was on 1995 Easter picnic Monday at the JCC when the idea of a Men's Fraternity emerged. I had been a Men's Fellowship Local, District and Zonal Secretary in the Tema Zone of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) for many years in the eighties until I took an appointment with the TIM. I offered to apply my Men's Ministry experiences to help start the proposed TJC Men's Fraternity when the resolution was made and it became certain that there were many men who desired it. With the support of other dedicated men, we were able to come out with an implementation plan, a constitution and an inaugural schedule, sooner than anticipated.

Memories of the late Bro. Peter Debrah and Prof. W. Z. Coker and others are very refreshing. I also remember the roles Bros. Thompson-Addo, S. C. A. Botchway, L. A. Asare, Ablade Jones, A. L. Amlalo and others played in putting together the very first executive committee. Rev. (now Rev. Prof.) Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, who was then a Graduate Student at the Trinity Theological Seminary in Legon, was the inaugural Guest Preacher. That was in November 1995. It is a delightful observation that today Rev. Professor Asamoah-Gyedu is an Associate Minister of the TJC.

The last decade of the twentieth century brought new dimensions to the Tema Ecumenical landscape. As the Secretary to the Tema Local Council of Churches [(LCC) at that time, I retain very refreshing memories of the various Pastors that I had the privilege of working with in our efforts to give meaning to Ecumenism. There could be so many stories to tell but what is most profound to me is the fact that God has been very faithful to Ecumenical efforts from its beginning and throughout all its challenges till today.

For the TJC that emerged from Tema Ecumenical opportunities, there is still a strong certainty that the Congregation has prospects to triumph most especially that there are still many people who find fulfilment in the Church's traditions. It is a matter of time, patience, visionary leadership and a vibrant Church Council. With strength in limitations and God, TJC's opportunities to give meaning to Ecumenical fortitude will keep manifesting.

This is the third of a serialized article on “Ecumenical Practices in Tema.” The writer is a member of the Tema Joint Church. He was formerly the Secretary to the Tema Local Council of Churches, the Administrator of the Tema Industrial Mission Programme of the Christian Council of Ghana and the Warden of the Tema Joint Church Centre.