A six-hour Anglican church service with conga lines? It’s just one of the many experiences that the Rev. James Kennaugh of Kingdom Life Church in Naples, Florida, and the Rev. Carl Buffington of New Covenant Church in Winter Springs, Florida, had when they traveled to Dunkwa, Ghana, last November as guests of Bishop Edmund Dawson-Ahmoah, whom James serves as Bishop’s Commissary to the Americas. Their official purpose was to attend the First Diocesan Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin and continue to build relationships there.
The trip, however, was multi-faceted. Its objectives included information and media gathering for the new diocesan website being sponsored by Kingdom Life Anglican Church and also for presentations and informational videos introducing the Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin and its vision for mission and church planting. James’ son Niall traveled with the two clergy as videographer/photographer.
In addition, the trip helped plan new income-generating projects for the diocese, including “Audom Church Vestments,” a venture managed by the Bishop’s wife, Gifty. Gifty is a qualified church seamstress trained in the United Kingdom who intends to develop a full line of church vestments to provide opportunities for local employment and a much-needed source of funding for evangelism and education in the diocese. For The Mission’s upcoming Winter Conference in Houston, Texas, Gifty has been commissioned to provide a new stole for each bishop to celebrate the installation of the new Apostolic Vicar Philip Jones. Other stoles made by Audom Church Vestments will also be for sale at Winter Conference.
At the First Synod of the Diocese, both James and Carl, as priests of the Diocese of Dunkwa, were seated and entitled to vote. The Cathedral Church of St Anthony of Padua was packed for the occasion and included bishops from neighboring Anglican dioceses, representatives from the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Methodist churches, and local community leaders such as the local chief, who has his own stall at the Cathedral.
The Synod produced and voted on an action plan for the next three years, giving priority to evangelism, education and local income-generating projects. At the Thanksgiving service on Sunday, the bishop, the Chancellor and James all signed the ACTA, or statement of intent. Carl and James were also installed to the Cathedral Chapter as canons; Carl was installed into the stall of St John the Baptist and James into the stall of St. Cyprian of Carthage.
James describes the service as an “an amazing expression of the Three Streams,” high Anglican worship with all the liturgical enhancements, including well-trained acolytes and a thurifer who regularly spun 360s with the thurible. The music was a blend of traditional Anglican hymns in English and Twi, then Pentecostal praise music led by one of the Cathedral Canons accompanied by keyboards, drums, tambourines and a trumpet. Every so often, the congregation would leave their seats to joyfully dance around the cathedral, forming never-ending conga lines, and then just as quickly return to their seats to respectfully participate as the bishop chanted the next part of the liturgy.
“The Gospel was preached with no less exuberance, and if you closed your eyes, you might be forgiven for thinking you were at a gospel revival meeting with shouts of ‘Amen,’ ‘Praise the Lord’ and ‘Hallelujah,’” James says.
The service lasted six hours and finished with a setting of the early Christian hymn “Te Deum” that, halfway through, transitioned from chant to contemporary praise with a beat.
“I was sure I heard the angels joining in, as there were harmonics beyond the human vocal range in the mix,” James says.
James and Carl spent the rest of their time in Dunkwa traveling with Bishop Edmund and his son Edmund Junior to visit parishes, church plants and new and existing apostolic works. The canons had many opportunities to minister to the sick and share the gospel along the way. Although the diocese is only three years old, Bishop Edmund has undertaken an extensive church-planting program that includes eight new parishes and five outstations. A number of parishes have Anglican schools and health clinics sponsored by the diocese. Bishop Edmund has also encouraged the development of a Cathedral/Mission Abbey model around the cathedral with the addition of a residential house for priests, not unlike the ancient cathedral communities in Europe and those now being developed by The Mission.
“Bishop Edmund and the Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin are a wonderful example of how vibrant and joyful our Anglican faith can be when fully embraced and expressed through Word, Sacrament and Spirit,” James says. “Bishop Edmond is very proud of the fact that he has been able to invite The Mission into the diocese. Join us in praying for and supporting the work of the Kingdom in Ghana as he prays for and supports the work of the Kingdom in North America.”