The Secretary of the Ghanaian Methodist Fellowship UK-Chaplaincy Brother Tatah Amenonyoh and his assistant, bro Clement Addai-Bempah have called on members of the fellowship to avoid things that will bring bitterness and divisions in the fellowship. In their first interview since they took office a year ago, the secretaries called on all members to rally around the leadership to achieve a common purpose.
Read the full interview below
- One year on, what is your impression of the role of secretary?
The position of Secretary in an organisation such as ours, in our view, is seen as the Administrative head. You must have all the attributes of a good administrator, just like the head of state or a father of a nation. You must be pleasant and be prepared to listen to all to be able to give an informed view of a situation whilst when a situation dictates to you to be shrewd and fair, you do so and wear a thick skin to deflect any come back. One year o as Secretaries to our beloved Fellowship, we think we have been lucky. In our quest to lead and initiate moves to ensure that our Fellowship thrives and functions well into the future, we have been surrounded by a group of people in the leadership team who really work and support each other to hold the ideals of our Fellowship together with a common purpose of achieving the aims and objectives of our Fellowship as defined in our Guide Book. Of course every position or situation has its challenges and this includes a Christian organisation or group such as ours as there are human beings with different characteristics that form such organisations or groups.
- Many members are asking for annual city conference. Would you support such idea?
We have not seen any evidence or heard of any call from members suggesting that we hold annual city conference. We must consider the logistics involved in holding large conferences every year. The planning alone takes about a year for it to be finalised and when you have finished with the conference, the work involved in putting paperwork together, balanced with people’s time for work and other in-year activities will not make it possible for such conferences to happen every year. We however believe the Chaplaincy Management Committee will be happy to have a reasoned debate on this matter if those pining for such a move can submit a pros and cons for why it should happen. When proposals have been reached and debated, these would be laid before entire body for a vote to be taken.
- To accomplish great things we must not only act. What is your personal/ leadership dream in the coming years?
Our dream in the coming years is to see the Ghanaian Methodist Fellowship – UK become and remain a “star” in the Methodist Church within Great Britain. We started and have set the pace. We began in the early 90’s but there have been a proliferation of many such Fellowships in the United Kingdom. I would like to believe that we are a group with a high market share in a growing market environment. I would want us to remain a group with a high market share in a saturated but a mature market. There have been some well-established Fellowships within the Methodist Church in Great Britain. Our dream is for us (GMF), to become a star and remain as one so in areas where there are a concentration of Ghanaians, we must dream of having a Fellowship there and make sure that the dream becomes a reality.
- There is some concern that the annual leadership seminar is just a talk show. What has happened to the many ideas/challenges expressed last year?
No. We don’t agree with that the annual leadership seminar is just a talk show. Our experience with such seminars is that loads of many ideas are churned out during the seminar. The ideas and challenges have to be put together, analysed and consolidated to become part of the group’s strategy for the future. Meanwhile at the same seminar, a reconstituted strategic committee was put together for them to work on a strategy that would include some of the ideas that the participants at the seminar came up with on the day. Some of the more straight forward ideas are being implemented by default but for the bigger ideas that have to be linked with others, until the strategic committee has finished and presented their work to the leadership and its implementation properly costed and presented to the Fellowship.
- Despite the success story of youth trips to Ghana not many youth are seen during fellowship Worship. What more could be done to attract the youth. We are glad that you acknowledge the success story of youth trips to Ghana. The trips have really been a blessing to our Youth and I believe they have enjoyed it anytime that they have visited Ghana. It has been an eye-opener to most of the youth if not all. I was personally glad to see one member of the youth happily dancing to do his Kofi ne Ama on Sunday 11th January 2015. This young man was with the Saturday group and I could see the jubilation in the eyes of the congregation. Previously this young man has been shy but a visit to Ghana has completely changed him. There are many of these youngsters who are not able to be with us on all the Sundays that we meet because they are either studying in Universities outside London or they are outside their parental home, for their independence. We will continue to encourage parents for them to in turn inspire their wards to attend Fellowship worship whenever possible. We will continue to send messages of encouragement to our youth to attend regular worship as they have seen the benefits of youth activities in the church environment somewhere. We will need to include them in adult services for them to feel that they belong to the larger fellowship. We can then leave the February youth service to the under 15s.
- When is the strategic committee report due? And what has impressed you so far about the committee’s work?
The work of the committee is still work in progress. Our next meeting will set timescales for the completion of draft reports. We do not think that the work of a strategic committee should have a cut out period. The committee will be working to find the direction and scope of our Fellowship over the long term. The scope and direction should in the long term achieve advantages in a changing environment through its configuration of resources and competences with the aim of fulfilling stakeholder expectations. If we want to do this and do it properly, then we must not rush. The work could go beyond two terms even though we want to be able to do better than that.
What we have been impressed most about the committee’s work is the willingness of the team members to work with each other. Everybody’s contribution is valued and it is not the intention of the committee members to make it a ‘one man show’. The committee is made up of men and women of varied experience who understand Methodism in both UK and in Ghana, coming with varying experience from different churches in London. We respect each other’s views.
- What have you personally suggested to the strategic committee for consideration?
The membership of the Fellowship from when it was founded and about 10 years ago will not be the same in the next 10 years. If it were to be the case, the organisation would not have seen any changes and development from its birth. We are not suggesting that we should throw away our virtues that have made us what we are now, we think it is about time we started looking at things in a different way to bolster our growth. We have spoken about encouraging our youth to attend our services. Some of these youth members were born in this country and have not known any language apart from English. They have been to Ghana and met with their peers who speak the English language just like themselves. Do you think these kids who are going to take over from us in the future would really like to sit down during our services listening to sermons and singing hymns in Ghanaian languages? These issues amongst others are those that we think should come up for review in the future in the deliberations of the strategic committee. We should consider that our Fellowship is now multi-tribal and we must gear ourselves to speaking a language that will be ideal for all platforms.
Amongst these many questions, comes the question of integration. We need to be looking at the bigger picture by fully integrating into British Methodism (This is not to say we stop our way or style of worshiping). If we are going to be successful in the very long term, then we need to create an environment where all Ghanaians and future visitors from all walks of Methodism or life would love to worship. We need to have a proper debate.
- What could be done to encourage more local fellowships to join the chaplaincy?
When the last administration handed over to us, one of the things we elected to do was to visit all the Fellowships within UK to introduce ourselves and hear about their concerns if they had any. We in turn would sell to them the idea of integration and the need to be part of the Chaplaincy. We were overwhelmed by the number of funerals and other Chaplaincy activities that it became almost impossible to do such visits. We visited a number of Fellowships in the first part of last year. We are going to continue with such visitations to spread the message of goodwill from the Fellowship and the benefits to be derived from being a member of a larger family. Our work will not stop there. There are Methodist Churches in the UK that have large concentration of Ghanaians amongst their congregations. It is the intention of this administration to do its utmost best and with the help of those embedded in the Chaplaincy to bring those folks within our fold.
- There seems to be some misunderstanding of policies and ideals. Don’t you think we should have re-orientation of what GMF chaplaincy is about?
We must do our best to avoid stories that seem to undermine the current leadership and the Chaplain. There are no two administrations that are run the same. Personalities are not the same and as such styles of leadership will be different. The fact that leadership styles are different does not mean that there is a misunderstanding of policies and ideals. Unless you can prove to that the current leadership has an agenda completely different from those set out in our Guide Book, we should stop talking about the re-orientation of what GMF Chaplaincy is about. Hopefully, the work of the strategic committee will one day include seeking memos from Fellowships and Organizations within the Chaplaincy on the shape and form and the direction that the Chaplaincy should take.
- What ingredients are needed to make sure the fellowship remain fit for purpose?
- We together need the serenity of peace within the Fellowship to be able to withstand the challenges of the forces of progress to survive
- We need the prayers of all
- We need to focus on what we stand for and hope to achieve
- We must concentrate on activities and processes that make use of resources effectively
- We should try to avoid anything that will bring bitterness and divisiveness within the Fellowship.
- Finally and above all, it is my prayer that we keep on praying as individuals, for the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us in order for us to be seen as people who put Christ first in all our doings, as in John 3:30 “He must Increase, but I must decrease”.
From left: Tatah Amenonyoh and Clement Addai-Bempah- Secretary and assistant secretary.