Those who wait for Christ’s return have been given a special mission on this earth. “I have sent them unto the world,” Christ declared as he prayed for the disciples before his crucifixion. It is therefore not surprising when a few Ghanaian Seventh Day Adventists who came to Columbus for job opportunities saw themselves fulfilling God’s mission with the formation of a small Bible study group. To God be the glory and we’ve come this far by faith.
It all began in March 1998 when eleven people: Bismark Opoku, Vivian Opoku, Felix Okyere, Agartha Okyere, Akuoko Kusi Odomse, Gifty Owusu Ansah, Tony Ampomah, Dave Acheampong, Freddie Amo, Leticia Adjei and Dorcas Nyarko came together to begin a small group which adopted Twi language as a medium of expression. The group began meeting at Felix Okyere’s apartment Sabbath afternoons studying the Bible and fellowshipping together.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Growth” tab_id=”1365641036-2-12″][vc_column_text el_position=”first”]
Before the formation of this small group, we worshipped at Westerville Seventh Day Adventist Church and enjoyed their friendliness and reception. As our number increased, we decided to form Twi Sabbath school class to afford us the opportunity to study the Bible in Twi language.
This initiative was not to intend to separate ourselves from the Westerville church but rather to get more time to delve deeply into the Bible in our own language and also encourage active participation from members in our Bible discussions. Later, the group was joined by Mr. Yeboah and his family followed by John Wilson and Evelyn Mensah, Robert Sarkodie, Phillip Acheampong, Georgina Attakora and Comfort Donkor and her family. Then began the wave of Ghanaian Adventist’s migration from New York, Chicago, New England and other parts of North America to Columbus.
In a couple of months after the formation, our membership grew to an extent that we could no more call ourselves a small group. We held studies at Bismark Opoku’s house because of the space his basement provided for our number. In addition to Sabbath afternoon bible studies, the group also embarked on visitation programs as a way to reach the Ghanaian community. We first targeted the few known Adventists who for some reason had not been able to worship with us.
This effort was rewarded with two of them joining our afternoon meetings. In furtherance of this objective, our first singing group, Christ the King, was formed under the leadership of Robert Sarkodie. One of our first major breakthroughs in the Ghanaian community was the opportunity to sing at Ghana’s Independence celebration in 1999 where more than 500 people gathered.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Road to Church Foundation and Vision” tab_id=”1366263973000-5-8″][vc_column_text el_position=”first”]
Road to Church Foundation and Vision
In less than a year after the formation of the small group, our membership grew to forty-five. Even though we had not been organized into a church, the group was functioning much more like one. We put into place a plan to improve the social and spiritual welfare of our members. In July 1999, the then elected leaders decided to focus on the formation of a Ghanaian Church with the following vision:
1. Meeting and worshipping in our own language
2. Seeking a permanent place of worship
3. Reaching the Ghanaian Community with the Three Angels Message
4. Educating our children with our cultural values and helping them to resist immoral habits such as drug abuse and violent crime.
In an effort to make this a reality, the group’s leadership had a meeting with the Westerville Church Board and the president of the Ohio Conference of Seventh Day Adventists Church. The meeting was very successful and led to the formation of the Columbus SDA Fellowship. The first Sabbath worship of the Fellowship was on November 20, 1999 at the Peace United Methodist Church, 2169 Ferris Road. The total number at worship was 95.
This fellowship embarked on various outreach activities such as Bible studies, health screening, and visitations. The health awareness day attracted one hundred and twenty people from our community including people from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Morocco who participated in this program.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Mission Church” tab_id=”1366262379407-4-9″][vc_column_text el_position=”first”]
After nine months in August 26, 2000, the fellowship was organized as a Mission Church by the Ohio Conference. This occasion was celebrated with all the Ghanaian churches in North America. After the organization, the group worked hard, fellowshipped and prayed together as a team in advancing God’s work. We were more than a family.
This was the secret of our healthy growth as a church. The Ohio Conference saw the need for a Bi-Vocational Pastor to shepherd the Mission Church. We extended the call to Pastor Isaac B. Boateng in Texas. He wholeheartedly accepted our invitation and left his job as Principal to lead God’s flock in Columbus. It took him a year to finally settle in Columbus, but he made several trips to Columbus to guide the church as any Pastor will do while serving as a Principal.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Ground-Breaking, Church Organization and Church dedication” tab_id=”1365641036-1-65″][vc_column_text el_position=”first”]
Ground-Breaking, Church Organization and Church dedication
The church’s main challenge was to find a place of worship. The Church had been worshipping at Peace United Methodist Church as a result of increased membership. The place was offered to the group for a token of donation of $200 a month for almost one year. Unfortunately, the Church Pastor who advocated on the behalf of our group left for California and the rent was raised from $200 to $1000 with restrictions on times and days of using the building.
We could only meet on Friday evening and the Sabbath. The increase in rent and restrictions attached to it threw a challenge to the Church members to look for their own church building. The group moved from Peace United Methodist Church to The Adventist Academy on Foster Avenue. In April 1999, for the first time, the group raised $20,000 towards our building project. In the following year, a pledge of $80,000 was made. At that moment, more than $60,000 had been received by the treasury.
The initial plan was to purchase an old building because there was an urgent need to get a place to worship. We received an overwhelming support from the Ohio Conference and targeted two old buildings. We even went to the extent of offering a bid to one of them, but the Ohio Conference thought it would pay off to build a new church.
The Conference took the initiative to acquire 3.2 acre lot off Thornapple Drive at the cost of $137,000. The Conference donated $50,000 and the church paid the remaining $87,000. Besides this, the Conference donated $110,000 and contracted a loan of $290,000 from the Columbia Union to enable the Church to be completed in 2002. In November 17, 2001, the Church organization and ground-breaking ceremony was held. The grand opening of our church was held on October 12, 2002.
The event was very well attended. The extension to the Church which includes the Raj Attire library, Youth room, Computer room and other offices was formally dedicated on May 29, 2004.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_tab][vc_tab title=”Community Involvement, accomplishments and Gratitude” tab_id=”1366262317987-3-10″][vc_column_text el_position=”first”]
Community Involvement, accomplishments and Gratitude
The Church has been very visible in the Columbus community and has held several evangelistic crusades, health expositions, marriage seminars and other community outreach programs. The Church In collaboration with Sonlight Community Services has offered ESL, GED, computer literacy, after School and summer enrichment programs to raise the standard of education of church members and the community.
Some of our other accomplishments include hosting three camp meetings of North America Ghanaian Churches, planting a Church in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2005, launching of our Church choir CD in 2006, and the formation of our singing Band and more than 10 singing groups. WE are also proud of our youth who are dedicated and continue to excel in leadership and evangelism among their peers. Our parking lot re-surfacing and fencing around the Church was done this year.
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to express our profound gratitude to all who have helped us in diverse ways to achieve this milestone. Our first thanks goes to God Almighty who has brought us this far. Our next thanks go to the Ohio Conference of SDA for their support. We also thank the Westerville Church for their invaluable assistance in the early stage of our Church formation. We also want to remember Mrs.
Kim Lee and her husband for the advisory role and support. We are grateful to Dr. Paul Yeboah who provided counseling and encouragement to the Church in its formation stage and to Pastor I.B. Boateng for his visionary role and dedication as the Church Pastor. We salute all the founding members through whose sacrifice and dedication that we have reached this milestone.
We also want to acknowledge all the Pastors and other invitees who have travelled long distances to interact with our Church over the years. Last but not the least, we salute all the past and present Church leaders, deacons and deaconesses and Church members for their loyalty and support. For those of you who have travelled long distances to join us today and all our special guests, we say thank you. May the spirit of the Lord be with you. AMEN![/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_tab][/vc_tour][/vc_column][/vc_row]