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C. B. Mensah at the GC Session, 1985.

Photo courtesy of Chaplain P. O. Mensah.

Mensah, Charles Bennet (1918–2008)

By Emmanuel Dickson Poakwa

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Emmanuel Dickson Poakwa

First Published: December 4, 2020

Charles Bennet Mensah was among the first indigenous Adventist ministers to be ordained into the ministry in Ghana. Mensah was the first to introduce the “district” system in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ghana.

Birth and Education

Charles Bennet Mensah1 was born in 1918 at Kofiase in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. His parents were Opanyin Kwame Baah and Amma Serwah of Kofiase. He started his primary education at the age of six at Kofiase. His father expected Mensah to adhere to the beliefs of the traditional religion, but during his studies under a Christian teacher he was introduced to Christianity. This led him to accept Christ as his personal Savior at a young age. His parents feared that their family would kill him for accepting Christianity because he was from a strong traditional religious home.

In 1932, Mensah completed his middle school education at Agona after which he went to Bekwae for six-months of evangelistic training under Pastor Jesse Clifford. This prepared him for the ministry. In 1933, Mensah was sent to Antoa, his maiden missionary station in the Ashanti Region, as an evangelist. He was assigned to shepherd three churches and to support the work of the mission. After working for two years, he was baptized with his wife, Christiana Mensah, on May 13, 1935.

Ministerial Work

In the course of his ministerial duties, Mensah established a basic school at Antoa and supported T. H. Fielding, a foreign missionary under whom he worked, in opening a church at Mampong-Asante. On April 20, 1938, he was transferred from Antoa to Mampong for pioneering work. He began with only four prospects and two old baptized members, Daniel Ntim and Kofi Nduom, who were very supportive to the minister. Mensah was a zealous worker, and he challenged himself to increase the church membership, which he achieved. By 1945, he had built a church at Mampong to house the church membership. To foster evangelism and to spread Adventism within his given territory, he organized singing bands to help in the evangelism work to enable him to win souls for Christ. Mensah, who was himself a singer, became the music leader who taught many simple songs to keep the singing groups active in diverse services of the church. By 1949, when he was left, he had planted forty-six churches and companies, extending the boundaries of the church from Mampong to Atebubu, and from Sekyedomasi to Kete Krachi.

Mensah was a hard worker and possessed an ardent spirit for ministry. Following J. K. Garbrah and S. B. Essien, he was the third indigenous minister to be ordained. His ordination was conducted on July 24, 1945, by pastors J. Clifford, C. McClement, and E. D. Dick. In 1949, when T. H. Fielding went on furlough, Mensah was transferred to Agona to be in charge of the administration of the mission station. He served as the lay activities secretary and vice president of the Gold Coast Mission in Kumasi from 1953 to 1958. Thus, he became the first indigenous minister to be appointed to this higher position in the church, making him a role model in ministry.

In addition to his regular work, Mensah was frequently called upon to serve foreign missionaries, who came to serve the church in the Gold Coast, as an interpreter. This enabled him to accompany them on their visits to Fetteh, Mayenda, Apam, Cape Coast, Sekondi, Axim, and Kikam. In 1956, Mensah had the privilege of attending a nine-month in-service training at Newbold Missionary College in England. He was also invited to ministerial meetings in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. These opportunities heightened his reputation. When Pastor W. H. Newman left permanently, Mensah was appointed the first indigenous president of the Seventh-day Adventist Mission in Ghana from 1959 to 1965. It was a great test because the foreign missionaries had no trust in the indigenous leadership in administering the church. The equation of Christianity to European and American cultures was such that the leadership of the Church almost always had to be in the hands of the missionaries.2

Church Leadership

Mensah mapped out strategies to develop the Church and to maintain its philosophy of spreading the Adventist faith. He developed unity amongst the indigenous ministers and the laity to enhance smoothness in the work. He made the work more attractive and appealing to the youth and also encouraged them to further their education to acquire more knowledge to lead the Church. It was during his tenure that many youths of the church attended the Adventist College of West Africa (ACWA) in Nigeria to prepare for ministry as pastors and administrators. In 1965, C. B. Mensah was called to serve at the West African Union Mission headquarters in Accra. Comprised of mission stations on the West Coast of Africa, Mensah was the director of Sabbath School, temperance, and lay activities. He served for seven years and on December 6, 1972, was appointed the secretary of the West African Union Mission.3

Retirement

On December 31, 1986, at the age of 67, Mensah retired from active service and returned to Kumasi. He was again called to serve as a district pastor for the Ashanti-Newtown church in Kumasi for a year and also served two and a half years as a church pastor for the Amakom Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kumasi. Pastor Mensah died on August 17, 2008.

Contribution

In the course of developing the church in Ghana, and expanding its boundaries for more church membership, C. B. Mensah was the first to introduce the “district” system in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ghana. This system contributed to an effective administration of the Church at the district level where churches are brought together under one minister. As a writer, he was the first to prepare a small pamphlet entitled, Ghana Asafo Abakosem Ne Memeneda Akwanwhefo Gyidi, printed in 1960. He published a book, Looking Unto Jesus. He also wrote manuscripts for the development of the Church in Ghana.4

Sources

Pobee, J. S. Skenosis: Christian Faith in an African Context. Gweru, Zimbabwe, Mambo Press, 1992.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1973.

Notes

  1. C. B. Mensah, interview by author, Kumase, Ghana, June 18, 2004.

  2. J. S. Pobee, Skenosis: Christian Faith in an African Context (Gweru, Zimbabwe, Mambo Press, 1992), 10.

  3. “West African Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1973), 215.

  4. Personal knowledge of the author as a pastor in Ghana.

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Poakwa, Emmanuel Dickson. "Mensah, Charles Bennet (1918–2008)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 04, 2020. Accessed April 08, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EC1B.

Poakwa, Emmanuel Dickson. "Mensah, Charles Bennet (1918–2008)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 04, 2020. Date of access April 08, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EC1B.

Poakwa, Emmanuel Dickson (2020, December 04). Mensah, Charles Bennet (1918–2008). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved April 08, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EC1B.