Mrs. ThompsonINAUGURAL WELCOME ADDRESS

Some 10 years ago, specifically 29th January 2006, an inaugural service was held here to mark the beginning of the celebration of 70 years of existence of Accra Ridge Church under the theme: “Let us move forward in the Strength of the Lord.”  Ten years have since passed and it is not possible to assess how many steps have been taken in our forward movement. One is therefore tempted to ask; what are we celebrating? Since 2006, what successes have we chalked?  What changes have we made? What strides have we attained?

We need to take a look at the Vision and Mission of our church as we embark on our celebrations.  We need to take stock of the decade in the history of this Church.   In fact the celebration is an appropriate time to pause and reflect, first as individuals and then as a body of believers in Christ.  We need to know where we are, where we are going and how we intend to get there.

To do this, let us refresh our minds of the Vision and Mission of our dear Church.  The Vision as stated in our Constitution is “To build One strong united congregation thru Worship, Fellowship, Evangelism and Discipleship.”  The Mission is: “To maintain a place for interdenominational Christian worship where participating churches and persons from all over the world meet on terms of equal partnership.”

At the start of this celebration, we need to have a sober reflection on whether we are on track or not.  If not, what are the set-backs, impediments or challenges that make it difficult if not impossible to attain the Vision?  What strategies do we need to put in place to keep us on track and how do we get all on board for a concerted effort to attain the goal?

The founding fathers deemed it wise to emphasize on the things that unite us while downplaying the things that divide us.  They built a consensus in order to attain equal partnership and unity of purpose.  This interdenominational model was the first of its kind and has since been copied in some places of the Christian Community.  However, we need to ask ourselves how successful have we been in our bid to maintain this unity or togetherness which the early Christians enjoyed.  This Church has in place programmes and plans to foster and improve relationships in the church.  A major one is community or church groups that meet weekly, fortnightly or monthly.  These help to build relationships and also encourage one another in our journey with God as the early Churches did daily in the temple (Acts 2:44, 46).  They became one in purpose and heart as they fellowshipped and prayed.  The Neighbourhood Fellowship for example aims at making all members have a feeling of belongingness since the Sunday to Sunday meeting was not enough to build this sort of relationship, but how many of us belong to any Neighbourhood Fellowship?

We need to build each other up.  The early Christians built relationships that helped to lift each other up when they were in difficult times.  Connection to a group of believers is essential in our Christian walk and God’s love is demonstrated through group relationships.

One of the major challenges in this Church has been the relationship between the adult church and  the youth.  Efforts over the years to solve this issue in order to curtail the drift from the Youth Service to other churches have not yielded much, but all is not lost yet.  It is not a very pleasant prospect to see our Youth join other churches when they are mature to move to the adult church.  One of the reasons for this migration is their desire for a more charismatic type of service due to their youthful exuberance.  Meanwhile, not many adults even bother to visit the youth services to acquaint themselves with what goes on there.

However, it is not all gloomy,  At least we can see a physical structure that has popped up during the decade – the ARC Multipurpose Hall.  In our 80th Anniversary celebration, we want to hammer on the things that unite us and not what divide us.  Once again, I wish to refer to the early Christians and their expression of love for each other.  They sold their belongings in order to help each other.  The emphasis is on the love which bound them and not what separated them.  We call ourselves Christians or followers of Christ whose love for us was and is so great that He took our human form, lived like one of us and laid down His life in order to wash away our sins.  We belong to one Church, the Church of Christ.  During the decade, apart from the ARC Hall other landmarks include the introduction of Anaviosi.  This is a program that has taken the place of the mid-week service on Wednesday evenings and after 5 years the growing attendance is evidence of its benefits for those who do not miss it.

The formation of the Youth Board is another success and the formation of Donation Policy for the Church.  We can also boast of the installation of audio-visual screens.  The construction of the Church Hall has stalled the other efforts.

However, the positive signs that can be gleaned from this 80th Anniversary celebration include programmes that cater for all denominations and even the charismatic, opportunities where groups  will rebrand their aims and objectives, social events that render all  “distinctions void” and events that bring young and old, male and female, natives and foreigners together on the same platform.

 

It would have been ideal to have had the ARC Hall completed and opened for use at a time like this but God’s time is the best and I have every conviction and assurance that this edifice will be completed soon.  I have hope that as Charles Wesley in the last verse of MHB 720 indicated

Love, likedeath, hath all destroyed,

          Rendered all distinctions void,

          Names and Sects and parties all,

          Thou O Christ art all in all.

Our theme for celebration simply states “Fix your eyes on Christ the Author and Perfecter of Our Faith.”  Let us fix our eyes on Christ, the unifying force.  There is need to remind ourselves that we are Christians first and denominations are secondary.  We must focus on and strengthen what unites us.  As we “fix our eyes” on Jesus, we should endeavor to make oneness in Christ our aim so that the Church emerges stronger and very relevant for the decades ahead.

We are One Church, One Body with One Faith in One Lord.  In spite of the human differences, there is one thing that underpins everything.   All of us are proud to belong to ACCRA RIDGE CHURCH.

Let us therefore greet each other and assure each other that we belong to ONE CHURCH, ONE FAITH, ONE LORD  (A&M 604).

May the Good Lord help us to keep our eyes fixed on Christ.  We must strategize on how to make ourselves relevant in this nation, and we cannot do so if we are so divided.

It is my desire and fervent prayer that “We all may be One” as Christ prayed for in John 17:21.

 

 

Mrs. Thompson