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Brief Historical facts of the Northern Presbytery
The Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Northern Presbytery has a very long history dating from the Basil Missionary era to the recent day Presbytery.
The Basil missionaries in their quest to move the Good News of Jesus Christ to the hinterland had to work according to the then agreement which was made by the British Government that the North was basically Islam and to avoid any religious conflict missionaries were not to venture around the (place) northern part of the then British protectorates.
Yendi in the north was a town in the Trans Volta Togoland, void of the British manipulation so the Basil Missionaries took that opportunity to move the gospel further north.
In January 1913 three Basel Missionaries arrived at Yendi to establish a new mission station.
They were led by one Rev. Hans Huppernbauer who embarked on intense language study and began to translate the Bible into Dagbanli.
A year later in 1914 the missionaries opened a school in Yendi.
Another year latter, in December 1915 Hans Huppernbauer read a portion of Scripture in Dagbanli for the first time to the few members of the new society and the pupils of their school for worship.
No sooner had they started serious evangelistic work, than the First World War led to the closure of the mission station in 1916.
The reason for the abandonment was due to their nationality.
The British had engaged Germany in these wars and the missionaries were seen as traitors and as such were sent away and this brought the Basil mission’s effort to bring the Good News hinterland to a temporal halt until the end of the world wars.
In 1945 the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of the then Gold Coast appointed a pastor for “United Church” in Tamale which was made up of mostly Presbyterians and Methodists from the South (a sort of chaplaincy to the members in “Diaspora”).
This was not different from the current day Northern Outreach Program in the south.
The only difference is that two Southern Protestants churches were pasturing their folk in alternation.
Both the Presbyterian Church and the Methodist alternated in sending pastors to the then “United Church”.
The Akropong Synod from 10th – 23rd April 1948, saw the whole church in active evangelism and an appeal was made for an indigenous Presbyterian volunteer to pioneer the work of the Church in the North.
To this end, the church designated the area as a “mission area”
In 1949, Rev. & Mrs. Otto Rytz moved to Salaga as the first missionaries of the Presbyterian Church to the North to embark on evangelizing the people of Northern Territory. In 1951, the first converts from Salaga District were baptized.
In 1953 the Salaga chapel was built. The staff was made of one (1) missionary, one (1) African Pastor, Rev. E.K.O.Asante, stationed in Tamale and three (3) evangelists
In 1954, a team made of the then Synod Clerk, Rev. Ctl. Clerk, Rev. Richard Haller and the Africa Secretary of Basil Mission paid a visit to the North to assess further expansions of the work.
Mr. & Mrs. Shirer of the Assemblies of God Church regarded a missionary involvement of the Presbyterian church further North as urgent necessity, a real must at this decisive hour in the history of the Church.
On the 21st February 1954 the new Pastor’s house on the old cemetery road in Tamale was solemnly dedicated by the Moderator. From this humble beginning the church has grown.
In 1960, the last Northern Ghana Field Conference (NGFC) was held in Sandema. In April 1961, the NGFC gave place to the newly formed Northern Presbytery, formed with five districts: Tamale, Salaga, Bolgatanga, Garu, and Sandema. As one delegate put it. “The Moderator’s youngest son has now been through his education and has graduated to a place among his elder brothers”. A sixth District – Damongo formed by a partition of the Tamale District, was later added. In May 1962, the newly formed Northern Presbytery held its first meeting and was visited by the Moderator of the PCG, who used the opportunity to dedicate the chapel at Paga.
In 1962, Rev. Henrick Jonkman begun youth work in Tamale. He was replaced by Rev. Frederik Rosingh in 1964. As at 1965 there were 3 missionaries, 4 Ghanaians Pastors including the first Northern Minister of the PCG, the late Rev. C. J. Natomah, and 27 evangelists.
In 1978 the Presbytery was redesigned “Mission Field” by the church after the “Frimpong –Sah commission” on the mission of the church in the North. By this time there were nine (9) Districts.
At the Navrongo Synod the redefinition or upgrading to the status of a Presbytery was once again prescribed, now known as the Northern Presbytery made up of the 9 districts. It has since grown to eleven (11) districts the youngest being Yendi District.
THE CHURCH IN DEVELOPMENT
In April 1956 Dr. Richard Kanzler, two other expatriates sisters with some African Nurses left Agogo hospital for the beginning of the Bawku Hospital.
This was as a result of the plea of the Government for the Presbyterian Church to take over the administration of the new Health facility built by the then Colonial government to service the people of the north and to run it in the pattern of the Agogo Hospital which was started by the Basil missionaries.
This gave birth to the Presbyterian Church Bawku
In the same year, 1956, Sister Ella Zeitsch began work in Bolgatanga Coordinating Child Welfare in the Coronation Clinic.
This gave birth to the Presbyterian Church in Bolgatanga and what is now the Bolgatanga Presbyterian Primary Health Care.
In February 1957 the Ghana Government invited the Churches to provide staff including a Principal, for the Women’s Teacher Training College at Tamale.
The Presbyterian Church of Ghana encouraged Miss. Friedel Mischler, then Principal of Agogo Girls Teacher Training to apply. She became the first principal of the first Women 2nd Circle institution in the North.
This new Presbytery continued to receive missionaries both from the south and from missionary societies abroad. She also enjoyed some support for social services from the Home board.
An Agric service station which started in Garu soon expanded to Sandema, Langbinsi and Tamale, and being coordinated by the Christian Services Committee (CSC)
Currently, the Northern Presbytery has the following development programs: Four (4) Agricultural stations, two (2) Community Based Rehabilitation Centers, one (1) Out-Cast Home, two (2) Optical workshops, a Rain water Harvesting Project, an ICT Center, one (1) Hospital, four (4) Health centers, four (4) Primary Health Care centers, three (3) Clinics, one (1) Rural Health out-reach project in Tamale and a Literacy program in the Tamale Rural District.
The (Church) Presbytery is also well in Education with two (2) Regional Education Units, one (1) Senior High School, twenty five (25) Junior High Schools, seventy one (71) Primary Schools, twenty nine (29) Nursery Schools, One (1) Vocational School and one (1) Lay training Center in Tamale which also run out-reach programs in Garu.
Of late, the Presbytery through Oikomos support has embarked on quality educational program to make her stand tall among all stake holders in education in Northern Ghana.
If one has to make a statement on the history of the Northern Presbytery, it must be said that the area has a lot of potential human capital but lack the financial ability to train such human resources so as to channel them into vigorous evangelistic crusade.
On two occasions it was declared Mission area/Field yet again on two occasions it was declared Presbytery. In the minds of the policy makers, the figurative growth should translate in to monitory reality, but this has been proved wrong in essence.
There is something wrong. What is wrong is the “rush to wean the baby” without the corresponding maternal care.
What is wrong is our unpreparedness to consider the geographical/environmental as well as economic disparity in the Northern Presbytery as against her colleagues in the southern part of the country this has its attending potential drift of the youth and job seeking northerners to the south for greener pastures.
Despite all the challenges the northern Presbytery is faced with, there are various potentials to make use of.
The various social services can and are prepared to undergo training in evangelism so as to augment our proclamation staff in addition to their social gospel.
The Presbyterian Lay Training Center is in collaboration with the social services in this aspect of the training. We have come a long way in our history though not as old as our southern counterparts but in terms of financial independence we are still fifty years behind our counterparts in the south.
There are potential areas we can pick up from but we will need the kind of support which was offered the south by the missionaries to take off.
God bless all who has it their Christian burden to make sure that the Northern Presbytery become financially independent in the near future.
“Come over to Macedonia and help us”
For more more information on the northen presbytery click on this link http://pcgnorth.com