North Ghana Mission headquarters, Tamale, Ghana.

Photo courtesy of North Ghana Mission.

North Ghana Mission

By Hakim Ishmael Yakubu, and Juliana Tetteh

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Hakim Ishmael Yakubu is executive secretary of North Ghana Mission.

Juliana Tetteh is an administrative assistant for North Ghana Mission.

First Published: March 14, 2021

The North Ghana Mission is a part of the Northern Ghana Union Mission in the West-Central Africa Division of Seventh-day Adventists. It was organized in 1968, and its headquarters is in Jakarayili, Tamale, Ghana.

Its territory includes the following districts and towns in the Northern Region: Bimbilla, Bole, Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo, Chereponi, Damongo-Daboya, Gambaga, Gushegu, Karaga, Kpandai, Kumbungu, Mankragu/Moagduri, Saboba, Sagnarigu, Sang, Savelugu, Sawla, Tamale, Tatale, Tolon, Walewale, Wusensi, Yendi, Zabzugu; the following districts and towns in the Upper East Region: Bawku, Binduri, Bolgatanga, Bongo, Fumbisi, Garu-Tempane, Nabdam, Navrongo, Paga, Pusiga, Sandema, Tongo, Zebilla; and the following districts and towns in the Upper West Region: Funsi, Gwollu, Issa, Jirapa, Lambussie, Lawra, Nadom, Nadowli, Tumu, Wa, Wechiau.

As of June 30, 2019, the mission had nineteen churches with 8,530 members amongst a population of 3,573,949.1

The Origin

Pioneering work and growth of Seventh-day Adventism in northern Ghana took place in the 1950s. The Chumburu people in East Gonja (now Kpandai District) made serious efforts in these years with “pioneering workers like F. Ankamah Afari of Buem and Samuel Alex Amfo”2 leading out. One Moses Kwabena Kuma who became exposed to the Seventh-day Adventist message preached the gospel message in Kumdi after his prior encounter with Adventism in Agona-Asante around the late 1940s as a farmer. His efforts indeed attracted the Chumburu and Nawuri people of the then East Gonja District. His early converts were John Kwasi Addi, Abraham Awase, and Paul Didaianyi.3

Paul Didaianyi, a native of Boafri came to Kumdi to learn blacksmith work, heard the gospel message, and returned to his native home to preach the good news. The message then spread through Boafri and Badwamsu. The Chumburu people, who heard the message in Kumdi, spread it through Blajai.4 As the Church developed and organized in the North, evangelists engaged to minister in Kpandai included E. B. Akyiano, J. A. Boateng, A. K. Boadi, F. Ankamah Affari (the first resident evangelist), S. A. Amfo, D. K. Boahene, and Kofi Antobam. T. K. Anane-Affari, who later became a gospel worker, was then a steward to K. Antobam and S. A. Amfo.5

The informal pioneering drive among the Nawuri and Chumburu went on concurrently with the formal efforts to establish the Church in Tamale, the regional capital of the North. Jesse Gibson, a missionary, raised $1000 to start missionary work among the Dagombas in Tamale. This provided funds to hire the first missionary, Emmanuel Bruce Akyiano, an Akyem Abuakwa citizen from Osiem. Despite the large Muslim and animist population he had to work among, he rose above all odds to win souls in this territory. His hard work encouraged the leadership to ordain him as a gospel minister in April 1953.6

Southern Influence

Other workers who complemented the work of Akyiano were J. A. Boateng and A. K. Boadi, both from Akyem Ayirebi in Akyem-Oda; Henry E. Rieseberg, a Canadian; Johanne Onjukka; and S. A. Amfo from Nsutam in Akyem Abuakwa.7 On the account of the hard work of these gallant soldiers of the Cross, the North Ghana field was organized into the North Ghana Mission with Johannes Onjukka as the first president and headquarters in Tamale. It was part of the West African Union Mission headquartered in Accra. The movement began to grow to encompass lay evangelistic activities, predominantly from the Akyem who came to do business in the North. This caused the church in Tamale to grow faster, and it was organized in October 1968.8 By 1970, the North Ghana Mission had grown to a membership of 116 in the Tamale church.9

From Tamale, the Church began to grow towards the Upper regions. By 1973 with the joint efforts of lay people, such as James Coffie, Rose Abaawa, Agnes Agyapomaa, and Maame Ataa, pushed the Adventist presence to Bolgatanga. Other southern business dwellers who influenced the work in the North after July 1979 included Robert Kweku Abebrese of Bekwai-Asante; Denis Mochiah, a Nzima; and C. W. Mensah from Aworowa, Techiman.10 Edmond Anifo, K. O. Amoyaw, Enoch A. Owusu, Emmanuel Krobea Asante, S. A. Koranteng, Ambrose K. Waahu, Newman Kwame Walkson, and W. B. Ackah helped to grow the church in Bolga in 1969.

The migration of southern Ghana Seventh-day Adventists to the north has always influenced the growth of the Church in North Ghana Mission. In recent times, this pattern has produced a negative effect on the indigenes joining the church as they see it as a church belonging to the Akans, the tribe of southern Ghana from which came the initial members of the church in the North. However, this is not the only factor causing the indigenous tribes not to attend church. Other reasons include difficulty in following doctrines, polygamy, strong attachments to traditions, the growth of Islam, and the presence of Roman Catholics in Wa, Lawra, Tumu, and Navrongo. Despite these challenges, the Adventist message has reached all of these areas and churches have been opened.11 Opanin Emmanuel Sarpong of Nsuta-Asante also influenced the growth of Adventism in Walewale among the Mamprusi.

Growth of North Ghana Mission

It took Adventism northern Ghana more than a decade, from 1950 to 1968, to become a mission. When the North Ghana Mission was established in 1968, Johanne Onjukka became the first president. He was supported by an executive committee comprised of K. O. Amoyaw, D. K. Boahene, James Coffie, R. O. Opoku. Amoyaw and Ojunkka were the only ordained workers; while D. K. Boahen, Kofi Antobam, and R. A. Salifu were licensed ministers.12

In 1974, Walton S. Whaley, an African-American, succeeded James M. Hammond as the president of the North Ghana Mission. There were just two organized churches in Bolgatanga and Tamale with a membership of 408 and twelve workers at the time. Though the number of organized churches remained the same up until 1979, the membership increased to 870 (comprised largely of member from the South). Professor Owusu Mensah acknowledged that the first historic ordination in the mission was that of E. A. Owusu in 1974.

George Elmer Bryson, another African-American, took over from Whaley in 1978; however, he soon returned to the United States and unfortunately died in an automobile accident.13 C. B. Mensah, the union secretary in Accra became acting president of the mission. In 1980, L. G. Antonio, a West Indian based from Great Britain was appointed president.14 Meanwhile, the Upper East and Upper West regions each had only one pastor, Adams Alhassan Nwumele in Kpandai and Samuel K. Koranteng in Bolga respectively, and the whole of the Northern Region was one district of churches pastored by J. K. Dankwah.15

Around 1984, I. T. Agboka became president with T. K. Anane-Affari, secretary, and Isaac Owusu, treasurer. From 1986 to 1991, S. A. Koranteng was president. He was followed by A. K. Waahu, during whose administration, Amos Oppong, served as treasurer and Abass Issifa, secretary. Issifa was succeeded by Zachariah Asuboni as secretary. Waahu was elected secretary when E. O. Abbey was elected president, and Oppong Mensah was elected as the treasurer at the fifth triennial session held in Valley View University, Oyibi-Accra, May 16-21, 2000.16

The next administrative team was led by E. Y. Frempong, president, with Solomon A. Annan secretary-treasurer, and Adams Alhassan Nwumele, departmental coordinator and later secretary, from 2004 to 2008. From 2009 to 2010, Paul Adu Sampah was the president with Philemon N. Aboungo, secretary, and Solomon Annan, treasurer. In 2011, Fred Agyei-Baah became president with Philemon N. Aboungo, secretary, and John Okrah, treasurer, who all served until 2015.

From 2015 to 2018, Adams A. Nwumele served as president, assisted by Seth Adjei-Mensah, secretary, and Emmanuel K. Bawah, treasurer. In 2018, Godfred Kwesi Ataburo became president with Hakim Ishmael Yakubu, secretary, and Clement Puori Guri, treasurer. They were all serving at the time of writing.17

Bole District

Bole District started with a membership of six in 1993 at Bole under the leadership of Matthew Kofi who came from Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo region. The other members included Nii Lamtey, Amanowa Monica, Mr. Agiri, and Maame Frema. The church grew to encompass Kelampoblie, Mandari, and Tinga under the leadership of Enoch Brenya (2011-2015). Hakim Ishmael Yakubu came to sustain the gains and entered Bale and Gbampe (2016-2018). The district is a young district and at the time writing had a membership of 117.18

Buipe District

The church in Buipe opened in 1993. The war between the Gonjas and Konkombas interrupted the progress of the church here for some time, and sometime in 1994, after the war was over, the believers started meeting again. In 1995, Paul Danquah was posted there as a church pastor. He built the church building and a school before departing in 2000. A Global Mission Pioneer took over from him, and later Samuel Atta Berfi was appointed church pastor on November 8, 2015. At the time of writing, Theophilus Appiah-Mensah served as pastor with a membership of forty-six in the Buipe church and thirty-six in the Damongo church—the only two churches in the district.19

Tatale District

The Tatale church was established in 1984 in the Yendi District. Te Tatale District was formed from a portion of the Yendi District in 2017. The Kandin company was organized in 1985. In 2016, a group of students known as ALIVE Ghana came to establish companies in Zabzugu and Kohiyile (Nbolado). A student from Noagmado village, Clement, who came to write his BECE examination was baptized. After the exams were completed, he returned to his community and spread the gospel. He assisted a teacher, Kofi Richard Opoku, in spreading the good news in Zabzugu.

The teacher with two others went to Noagmado to preach the gospel and established a church with about 150 souls baptized. Also in 2016, Tatale church led by Daniel Gyamerah, started a company of eleven members in Sachilbo. From May 24 to June 2, 2018, Donkor Moses Nkpawiasei led an evangelistic effort in collaboration with THEMSA, a group of students from Valley View University, in the Tatale district with one center at Tatale and the other at Sanguli. At the end of the evangelistic campaign, seventeen people were baptized in the Sanguli community and twenty-eight at Tatale. The first pastor posted to the district was Nelson Orkoh Agyemang; however, he did not reside for lack of accommodations and only worked there for about six months. In August 2017, Donkor Moses Nkpawiasei was posted to the district. At the time of writing, the district has a membership of about 400. There is a bright future for the church in the district. There are also many un-entered and virgin villages in the community.20

Navrongo District

According to the history, the church in Navrongo was founded by Elder Opoku, who owned a drug store in collaboration with P. N. Aboungo, in 1970 with about five members. The church was a bit stronger in the early 1980s with about ten members. Gradually, workers from the South came to work there making it stronger. Between 2000 and 2010, Navrongo and Sandema was one district overseen by one pastor, Elie Buhire Brown. Later, it was divided into two different districts, though Elisha Nhyira Bobieh pastored both districts from 2009 to 2011. Godfred Kwesi Ataburo succeeded Elisha Nhyira Bobieh as Navrongo District pastor in November 2012, and he established a branch Sabbath School in Kayilo. A branch Sabbath School was already active in Bonia, and there was another company in Navrongo. Henry Okyere Donkor became pastor in the district in 2014. At the time of writing, membership was 135.21

Jirapa-Lawra District

Jirapa-Lawra District was initiated by Pierre Musabyimana in 1998. He settled in Jirapa and began a house-to-house campaign along with Ali Daniel, Anthony Bagyile, and Galibie Norbert. They later extended their territory to Lawra and Bazuu within the same Upper West Region. Addae Mununkum pastored in the district from 2002 to 2008. In 2009, James Effah Korsah replaced Mununkum and established companies in Nadowli and Babile. The district had a total membership of eighty-six when he left in 2014. George Opoku then served as pastor from 2014 to 2016 when he was joined by Kyilleh Dominic Arituo, who pastored the church in Lawra. Together they started branch Sabbath Schools in Chapuri, Nandom, and Ko with a present membership of 250 at the time of writing.22

Sandema District

The entire Upper East Region had only one pastor from the time it was established c. 1971. Pastors in the Sandema District have included Matthew Azule, Kwame Annor Boahe, Seth Adjei-Mensah, and others. Sandema church was established in 1972 due to the work Matthew Azule. Earlier, Sandema had become a district of her own with Elie Brown as the first pastor. Later, Nhyira Bobie, George Kuzagbe, and, at the time of writing, Effah James Korsah served as pastors of the district. The Sandema District includes Katigra, Gobsa, Uwase, Fumbisi, Wiaga, and Kadema each with an established company. Several people have been baptized and church membership increased to 287.23

Other districts of the North Ghana Mission include Bolga, Salaga, Bawku, Saboba, Yendi, Tamale West, Tamale East, Wa, Bamboi, Kpandai South, and Kpandai North.

Recent History

Until the first quadrennial session in 2014 when the field was reorganized, parts of Northern Volta, including the districts of Krachi, Nkwanta and Dambai, were also part of the North Ghana Mission. The field was reorganized into three sectors, Tamale, Wa, and Bolga, with a sub-sector at Kpandai for easy administration. As of July 2018, the North Ghana Mission had a work force of forty-two, among whom were twenty-three pastors and seven Global Mission pioneers.24

At the end of the second quadrennial session, which took place from July 19 to 22, 2018, at RADACH Lodge in Tamale, the North Ghana Mission was reorganized into three fields: the North Ghana Mission, the Upper East Field Administrative Unit, and the Upper West Administrative Unit.25

Schools

The spread of the gospel also necessitated the opening of schools in the North. The first Adventist primary school was established by R. Briama Chilala, a Mamprusi from Walewale, in the f1950s. In December 1983, it was noted that Adventist schools were the only Christian schools in Tamale. At the time of writing, the Tamale District supports nursery, primary, junior high, and senior high schools in Tamale, Kpandai, Saboba, Walewale, Bolgatanga, Wa, Bawku, Bimpella, Yendi, Buipe, and Lingbensi. Through the collaborative effort of Maranatha International and the North Ghana Mission, and Adventist academy was opened on October 7, 2014, with an enrollment of twelve pupils on the opening day.26

Valley View University opened a branch campus in Tamale in 2012 with eighteen students. At the time of writing, its enrollment numbered 559 students. Programs run on the Tamale campus include B. Ed. in Education; DSB General Nursing; BEd. ITC; etc.27

History of Adventist Hospital Tamale

The hospital in Tamale started as a clinic around 1996 in Jakarayili, a suburb of Tamale. The clinic moved to its present location on February 2, 2004, under the charge of a retired senior medical assistant and a visiting medical officer, Dr. Bampoe. It was commissioned on July 8, 2004 by the then Regional Minister Hon. Ernest A. Debrah.

With the arrival of a permanent resident doctor, the clinic assumed the status of a hospital in February 2005. It has since been granted accreditation as a Primary Hospital Level C by the government.28

Presidents of North Ghana Mission

Presidents: Johanne Onjukka (1968-1972), James M. Hammond (1972-1974), Walton S. Whaley (1974-1978), George Elmer Bryson (1978), Charles Bennet Mensah (acting, 1978-1979), L. G. Antonio (1979-1984), I. T. Agboka (1984-1986), S. A. Koranteng (1986-1994), A. K. Waahu (1994-2000), E. O. Abbey (2000-2004), E. Y. Frempong (2004-2008), Paul Adu Sampah (2009-2010), Fred Agyei-Baah (2011-2015), Adams A. Nwumele (2015-2018), Godfred Kwesi Ataburo (2018-present).

Sources

North Ghana Mission of Seventh-day Adventists. Session Handbook of the 2nd Quadrennial. July 19-22, 2018. North Ghana Mission archive, Jakarayili, Tamale, Ghana.

North Ghana Mission Records. North Ghana Mission archive, Jakarayili, Tamale, Ghana.

Owusu-Mensah, Kofi. Ghana Seventh-day Adventism: A History Valley View University Monograph Series. Vol. 12. Accra, Ghana: Advent Press, 2005.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Accessed May 23, 2021. https://www.adventistyearbook.

Notes

  1. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “North Ghana Mission,” accessed May 23, 2021, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=13532.

  2. Kofi Owusu-Mensah, Ghana Seventh-day Adventism: A History Valley View University Monograph Series, vol. 1 (Accra: Advent Press, 2005), 241-243.

  3. Ibid.

  4. Adams Alhassan Nwumele, interview by Ishmael H. Yakubu, Tamale, Ghana, September 8, 2018.

  5. Kofi Owusu-Mensah, Ghana Seventh-day Adventism: A History Valley View University Monograph Series, vol. 1 (Accra: Advent Press, 2005), 243.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Ibid, 241-243.

  8. “North Ghana Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2018), 394.

  9. Kofi Owusu-Mensah, Ghana Seventh-day Adventism: A History Valley View University Monograph Series, vol. 1 (Accra: Advent Press, 2005), 241-243.

  10. Ibid.

  11. Ibid., 246-247.

  12. “North Ghana Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, Dc: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1970), 199.

  13. Adams Alhassan Nwumele, interview by Hakim Ismael Yakubu, Tamale, Ghana, September 8, 2018.

  14. Kofi Owusu-Mensah, Ghana Seventh-day Adventism: A History Valley View University Monograph Series, vol. 1 (Accra: Advent Press, 2005), 322-323.

  15. Adams Alhassan Nwumele, interview by Hakim Ismael Yakubu, Tamale, Ghana, September 8, 2018.

  16. Kofi Owusu-Mensah, Ghana Seventh-day Adventism: A History Valley View University Monograph Series, vol. 1 (Accra: Advent Press, 2005), 371.

  17. Compared dates in the service records of workers in the North Ghana Mission to collate the periods of appointments.

  18. North Ghana Mission Records.

  19. Ibid.

  20. Ibid.

  21. Ibid.

  22. Ibid.

  23. Ibid.

  24. Leadership transition notes compiled by Pastors Adams Alhassan Nwumele, Seth-Adjei-Mensah, and Emmanuel Bawah, of North Ghana Mission, June 11, 2018.

  25. North Ghana Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, Session Handbook of the 2nd Quadrennial,  July 19-22, 2018.

  26. Personal knowledge of the author as the secretary of North Ghana Mission.

  27. Ibid.

  28. North Ghana Mission Records.

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Yakubu, Hakim Ishmael, Juliana Tetteh. "North Ghana Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 14, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AF5G.

Yakubu, Hakim Ishmael, Juliana Tetteh. "North Ghana Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 14, 2021. Date of access June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AF5G.

Yakubu, Hakim Ishmael, Juliana Tetteh (2021, March 14). North Ghana Mission. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AF5G.