Baptist across Africa gathered in Accra, the capital city of Ghana in West Africa from August 22 – 26, 2016 for the General Assembly of All Africa Baptist Fellowship. The meeting which holds a time in five years witnessed the change of baton of leadership as new officers were installed to steer the affairs of the regional body of BWA in Africa for the next quinquennium. The meeting was graced by the President of BWA, Dr. Paul Msiza and the General Secretary, Dr. Neville Callam.
Executive Committee Meeting
The Executive Committee meeting was held on 22 August 2016 at the board room of the Baptist House, Abelenkpe, Ghana. The meeting was the last for the executive committee members for the quinquennium. It was well attended by AABF EC members and the President of BWA was also in attendance. The EC ratified the names of officers submitted by the Nominating Committee and also recommended that departmental heads and regional chairmen should be installed at the General Assembly. The EC recommended to the General Council that Conventions and Unions should be committed to paying their dues and also help one another to grow.
General Council Meeting
The General Council Meeting was held at the Baptist International Worship Center, Baptist House, Ghana on the 23rd of August, 2016 with the members of the executive of AABF and presidents and General Secretaries of Conventions and Unions in Africa in attendance.
During the meeting, the AABF General Secretary, Dr. Duro Ayanrinola gave the report of his five-year stewardship. In his report, he highlighted some of the challenges he met on ground when he assumed office. The challenges include lack of finance, lack of literature materials for effective teaching and discipleship materials in many conventions and unions in Africa, lack of effective leadership and the crisis that have bedevilled many conventions and unions.
The General Secretary reported most of the challenges are being tackled and the efforts are yielding results. There has been some improvement on finance. The GS office conducted a number of leadership training programs and writers’ conference in different regions of Africa. Christian literature have been produced for some conventions and unions and they include teaching materials for children as well. Some of these materials were written and developed by indigenous people who partook in the training programs. Many crises have also been resolved and peace has returned to most of the affected conventions and unions.
Departmental heads (Men, Women) as well as regional chairmen gave their reports as well. At the meeting, members were encouraged to help one another. Convention and Unions with more stability are encouraged to help the struggling ones to grow. Conventions and Unions were also encouraged to pay their dues to AABF regularly as the organization is struggling financially. The council also accepted the reports of the Nominating Committee. Words of greetings and encouragement were given by BWA President and the BWA General Secretary at the meeting.
The General Assembly
Day 1: Opening Ceremony – 24 August 2016
The General Assembly kicked off on the 24th of August, 2016 at Trinity Baptist Church, Madina, Accra, with an opening ceremony. The event was graced by the BWA President, BWA General Secretary, and the special guest of honour at the event was the wife of the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur. Welcome addresses were delivered by the Host; Rev. Dr. Adu-Gyamfi, President of Ghana Baptist Convention, AABF President, Dr. Michael Okwakol, BWA General Secretary, Dr. Neville Callam and BWA President, Dr. Paul Msiza. The opening message titled “Jesus Christ: The Only Door of Hope To Salvation” was delivered by the AABF General Secretary, Rev. Dr. DurosinJesu Ayanrinola. The General theme for the Assembly is Jesus Christ: The Door of Hope with text taken from Col 1:27.
At the afternoon session, delegates were divided into different syndicate groups of their choices with facilitators drawn from across the continent. Eight different groups were formed with interesting topics that centered on matters of Mission, Workplace, Finance, Politics and Youth ministries.
Later in the afternoon, the President of AABF, Dr. Michael Okwakol led the General Assembly in an emergency business meeting. At the meeting, he presented the officers nominated for the next quinquennium for the assembly acceptance and confirmation. The names of the AABF Officers are
Rev. Dr. Ernest Adu-Gyamfi – President
Rev. Angelo Scheepers – 1st Vice President (Anglophone)
Rev. Kakule Molo – 2nd Vice President (Francophone)
Rev. Dr. Isaac DurosinJesu Ayanrinola – General Secretary (second Term)
Rev. Dr. Donald Ndichafah – Associate General Secretary/Recording Secretary (second Term)
Rev. Dr. Moses Adebayo – Treasurer (second term)
Rev Dr. Kojo Amo – Western
Rev Chris Dikana – Southern
Bishop J.T. Maisha – Eastern
The Central region was expected to elect a new chairman of the region during their meeting at the assembly.
Members at Large
Rev. Dr. Supo Ayokunle (Western Region)
Mrs. Judith Wanki (Central Region)
Rev. Isaac Zulu (Southern Region)
Joina Dhlula – Women
As at this time, the Men had not yet elected their new leader as Mr. Ayo Badejo was expected to end his tenure at the assembly. The Youth Department had not yet elected a new leader because the tenure of the incumbent would be ending by 2017.
The assembly accepted and confirmed all the nominations.
Installation of Officers
At the commencement of the evening session, the BWA General Secretary, Dr. Neville Callam officially installed the newly elected AABF officers to serve for the next quinquennium. The event which supposed to have been held at the closing of the assembly was brought forward because the BWA General Secretary would have returned to the United States before the assembly ends. As of the time, the BWA President, Dr. Paul Msiza had also left for another meeting in Kiev, Ukraine.
Regional report for Western Region was given by Rev. Dr. Kojo Amo for the AABF Western Region. He reported that the region had leadership training programmes, mission outreaches and formed partnerships to sustain its work. He also mentioned some of the challenges the region has witnessed e.g. Ebola virus outbreak, Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen militia among others. The threat of Islamic spread in the region was also an issue of concern.
The message of the evening was delivered by Rev. Dr. Supo Ayokunle, President, Nigerian Baptist Convention (who also recently assumed office as the President of Christian Association of Nigeria). The topic of the message was “Jesus Christ: The Door of Hope in a World of Despair.”
Day 2: August 25
Regional report for the AABF Southern Region was given by Rev. Chris Dikana. He said there have been little or no activities in the region but communications have improved among the leaders of the conventions and unions. He said the region is planning to reach out some countries in the region with little or no Baptist penetration. He made special emphasis on Comoros Island which about 98% of its population are Sunni Muslims and 2% Roman Catholic.
The message for the morning was delivered by Rev. Angelo Scheepers, the General Secretary of Baptist Union of Southern Africa. The topic of the message was “Jesus Christ: The Door of Hope in Times of Crises and Conflict”.
The Bible Study came later in the morning. Delegates were divided into different bible study groups with a facilitator each to lead the groups. The title of the Bible Study was “Jesus Christ: The Only Door of Hope”.
At the afternoon session, the Focus Groups reconvened and delegates were able to attend the groups of their choice.
Later in the afternoon, departmental meetings were held. The departments include the Baptist Women Union of Africa, All Africa Baptist Men’s Fellowship, All Africa Baptist Youth Fellowship, All Africa Baptist Children’s Ministry. At the men’s meeting, Dr. Dawari George was elected as the President of Baptist Men’s Fellowship of AABF. He took over from Mr. Ayo Badejo whose tenure ends at the assembly.
The regional chairman of East Africa, Bishop J.T. Maisha delivered the report for Eastern Africa. He said the Eastern region is still trying to pull effort together. The region was just coming out of a number of crises in the Conventions and Unions in the region and they are gradually trusting God to move on to the stability stage.
The message for the evening was preached by Rev. Elijah Wanje, the Senior Pastor of Ridgeways Baptist Church, Nairobi Kenya. The topic of the message was “Jesus Christ: The Door of Hope to Harmonious Family Life”.
Day 3: August 26
The regional report for the morning was brought by Rev. Kakule Molo, the regional chairman for Central Africa. He reported that the region had been through different crises and some parts of the region are still unsettled. Therefore there are really no activities to report from the region.
The message for the morning was preached by Rev. Godwil Ncham, General Secretary, Cameroon Baptist Convention. The topic was “Jesus Christ: The Door to Authentic Christianity”.
Later in the morning, the Bible Study groups reconvened for the conclusive part of the study.
At the afternoon session, the regional meetings were held. At the meeting of the Central Region, Rev. Godwil Ncham, the President of Cameroon Baptist Convention was elected as the Chairman of the Central Region to replace Rev. Kakule Molo who has been elected as the 2nd Vice President (Francophone) of AABF.
Evening Worship and Closing
Since the installation of officers which supposed to have taken place on Saturday morning had been done on Wednesday evening, the assembly was brought to a close on Friday evening.
The message of the evening was delivered by Rev. Dr. Fredrick Primrose Deegbe, Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Adenta, Ghana. The topic of the message was “Jesus Christ: The Door of Hope to Spiritual and Material Prosperity”.
Closing remarks and vote of thanks were given by the outgoing AABF President, Dr. Michael Okwakol and the General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Duro Ayanrinola. The newly installed President of AABF, Rev. Dr. Ernest Adu-Gyamfi also gave his acceptance speech to serve for the next quinquennium. The assembly ended with the Lord’s supper conducted by Rev. Asante on Friday night.
The assembly was filled with beautiful musical renditions from different Choral groups in Ghana Baptist Convention. Different music ministers also featured single solos which added tremendous beauty to the gathering. Inspiring and soul lifting songs of praise were also led by the choristers and delegates rejoiced in the presence of God.