“Whatever difficulties we face, we will be each other’s keepers. We will walk with the Lord together. Jesus loved everyone equally and we therefore need to put that into practice. Love one another. If we can do that we can change the world.” Rev. Vincent Dagadu – Moderator, Upper Northern Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ghana
Written by Marsha MacKinnon, Webmaster for the Presbytery of Lake Erie
In late June 2019, Global Mission took center stage at the First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Erie. The Presbytery of Lake Erie (PLE) hosted the 18th Annual PCUSA Ghana Mission Network Meeting from June 27 – June 30. This was a global gathering with more than 50 participants and representatives from across the U.S.A. and around the world. Those who attended this special network meeting came to Erie from 12 states and from Ghana, in western Africa. The participants represented 15 Partnerships, 3 Presbyterian Seminaries, Presbytery World Mission Staff and several new members.
There are many reasons why outreach by the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and in particular our own Presbytery (PLE) here in northwest Pennsylvania are engaged in Global Mission in Ghana. Rev. Dr. David Oyler, General Presbytery of the Presbytery of Lake Erie, explains it is much more than sharing the Presbyterian faith.“It is my experience that we always expand our understanding of God’s world when we talk with people who have different experiences than our own. Ghana is a culture in which there are many Christians who are first generation believers. Their insights, along with their energy and enthusiasm, help to inform Christians in North America. In fact, the Christian church is growing in Africa like few other places in the world. Their experiences can teach others,” said Rev. Dr. David Oyler.
One of the visitors to Erie in late June, was the Rev. Vincent Dagadu. He is the Moderator of the Upper Northern Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ghana. I had an opportunity to interview him about how important Global Mission is to the faithful in his presbytery. His responses follow in Q & A format:
How important is it that you have an opportunity to visit the U.S.A. and to the Presbytery of Lake Erie who is a mission partner with you in Ghana?
“It is very, very, very important to be here. The PCUSA and the Presbytery of Lake Erie, its members and representatives have demonstrated love. When Jesus prayed to God the Father, he prayed that we would be as one. That all peoples would be as one. This oneness is very important to promoting our friendship, our unity and our partnership together. All of us are Presbyterians, we are moving forward together, forward in unity and that is beautiful. This friendship-partnership began 18 years ago and continues to this day and continues to grow,” said Rev. Vincent Dagadu.
Describe how this partnership has benefited the people in the Upper Northern Presbytery in Ghana?
“A lot. We are united, like brothers and sisters. We speak the same language of Jesus Christ. Beyond our understanding, in Ghana it is very challenging. A pastor goes there with mixed feelings, and faces multiple challenges. Earlier this year, the Ghana Mission was gifted with several motorcycles. The motorcycles are very helpful because the congregations are so far apart. The motorcycles make a huge difference in traveling around the presbytery in Ghana. This is a huge gift! From bicycle to motorcycle they are in heaven. One pastor can now reach more congregations in the region in Ghana where this presbytery is located. Rev. Dagadu is very grateful. There is a lot of ground to cover and 150 congregations to visit in the presbytery in Ghana. We can’t thank them enough,” said Rev. Dagadu. (The Presbytery of Lake Erie funded the purchase of seven new motorbikes for the Upper Northern Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, in Ghana.)
What are your biggest challenges?
“After 18 years, this is first time I have been interviewed about our partnership in Ghana with the PCUSA and the Presbytery of Lake Erie. It is very important to get the message out about this mission in Ghana. So the word is spreading and hopefully that will promote more support in the future.”
What do you want people to remember about Global Mission in Ghana and deepening our partnership between Ghana and northwest Pennsylvania?
“We shall continue to be one. Our brothers and sisters in this part of the country have demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt there is no color. There is no difference in the family of Jesus Christ. We are part of the family of God. We are all a part of the family of Jesus Christ. Whatever difficulties we face, we will be each other’s keepers. We will walk with the Lord together. It is my prayer that the church of Jesus Christ will continue to lead in western Ghana. Jesus has left a legacy that we should love each other. We as Christians must demonstrate that to the world. Jesus loved everyone equally and we therefore need to put that into practice. Love one another. Iif we can do that we can change the world,”said Rev. Vincent Dagadu.
Rev. Dr. David Oyler was asked what has it meant to the Presbytery of Lake Erie to have a mission partnership with Ghana? Here are his conclusions…
“The partnership with the Upper Northern Presbytery continually teaches in numerous ways. A few insights include:
- The Ghanains have a spirit of gracious hospitality which is evident in all their conversations;
- As North American Christians we learn continually of the need for clear communication with a gracious spirit. (This is true both in North America and in Africa. It may be even more crucial in a world of instantaneous communication.);
- That relationships are not predicated on building projects, but on our common faith in Jesus Christ;
- That mission partnerships are enhanced as we walk together through shared moments of worship and fellowship, as well as in difficult, more challenging times. Christian faith is enhanced through grace filled perseverance.”
Before I concluded my interview with the Rev. Vincent Dagadu, I asked him if there was anything that he would like to add. Dagadu said “We are blessed to have Donna (Cammarata) with us. We appreciate the love of humanity that she always exhibits.She is a blessing.” Donna Cammarata of Erie is the Coordinator for the PCUSA Ghana Mission Network and the Coordinator for the Lake Erie Presbytery’s Partnership with the Upper Northern Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. (See earlier post featuring an interview with Donna.)
Labor of Love
To commemorate the 50th Anniversary in 2019 of medical missions and service, Chosen is partnering with the Presbytery of Lake Erie and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana in a new endeavor called “Labors of Love.” The goal of “Labors of Love” is to raise $50,000 that will be invested in the three Health Clinics to increase and improve healthcare services to the women, children, and communities that they serve. Each of the Health Clinics has specific needs for getting to the next level of development. These include building construction, renovations, equipment, supplies, infrastructure, potable water, sanitation, staff training and support. Click here for more information.