A Global Denomination

Walking through a village in the Northern District of Ghana.

Walking through a village in the Northern District of Ghana.

by Ty Hardin

There is a tradition here in Ghana that when an elderly person that has lived a full life passes away, they have a procession to honor and celebrate the life of that individual. They march around and shoot off a cannon. A very loud cannon. A shake the windows and walls cannon. No live rounds, mind you, just the powder. But the thunderous noise alone (at 6:35 a.m.) is almost enough to cause the need for a second procession. 

Lance and I were having coffee at just after 6:00 a.m. He and Juan and Amy were going with Dr. Solomon (Sumani Sule-Saa) to the rural Yendi district area and were scheduled to depart at 7:00. Just before the aforementioned time, we heard drums and chants. Then there was a loud BANG. We both jumped up to see what was the matter. We walked out  just in time to hear another big BOOM and the drums and chants were much closer this time. I decided this was best investigated from inside. Dr. A promptly appeared and explained to us the tradition of celebrating a well-lived life. What an awesome and informative start to the day.

After the three of them left for the Yendi district the rest of us loaded up to go to an English speaking service at Unity Presbyterian Church in Tamale. Jay was chosen to give the message for this service. It was an inspiring and exciting service to start our day of worship.

After that we had an opportunity to briefly meet with their youth group in a separate area before we had to split up to travel to other rural worship services. Myron, Beth and I went with Dr. Adam Harunah to Kotingli. It is a small church in an agricultural district. They worship in their own dialect, and they do it with bravado. The choir was very moving; even if I couldn’t understand the words I certainly received their message. Then Myron preached (remember he is one of the seminary students), and sang, and then preached and then sang again. The whole church sang along. Beth and I had the opportunity to share a brief testimonial. 

We then shared communion with the church. On our way back to meet the others for lunch we were given a brief tour of the site on which a new building for the church is being built. 

One of the mosques in Tamale.

One of the mosques in Tamale.

We met back up with Jay, Francis and Erin (and Dr. A) to grab lunch. As we climbed into the van we came face to face with a guinea fowl in the back seat of the van. Guinea fowl? Think small turkey with lighter plumage and a bad hair-do. I turned and somewhat calmly asked Jay and Francis if there was supposed to be a bird in the back of the van. They assured me that yes, it was supposed to be there. It was a gift from the rural church they had visited where Jay had preached a second time for the morning. 

After lunch we met up with the rest of the team and headed across town for an unexpected treat. We were guests at a Sunni Mosque in Tamale. It turns out that John (Dr. A) has an old friend who is associated with the mosque, and we had been invited to sit down and discuss various topics of interest for Christians and Muslims. 

After the mosque visit we grabbed dinner on our way to the student worship service at Tamiha Presbyterian Church. We had communion and a sermon. But most of all there was singing and celebrating and dancing in the local dialects and culture. This was truly awe-inspiring and an eye-opening experience on what it means to be part of a global denomination, or religion for that matter. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and it was humbling to see them worship in their own unique culture and language.

Ty Hardin
Germantown Presbyterian Church