The 13 of us on the Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope Reading Camp Team sat together in the front and were recognized as visitors from “the States”. Debi provided us with white handkerchiefs with Ghanaian Mothers’s Hope logo printed in blue in the corner which we often held up and twirled like the other parishioners.
The words to most songs and scriptures, even the Nicene Creed, were displayed in English with PowerPoint on an overhead screen. The women in the parish were all dressed in their finest dresses of all colors, shapes and sizes in the Ghanaian style, all very proud of how well they looked in church.
Most of the hymns were sung with the organ except during the offerings which were a totally unique experience. When it is time for the collection, every one in church walks or dances to the front and puts their offering in a wooden box. During this time the music is led by a female vocalist accompanied by guitar and drums. The music is loud and lively praise music and the whole congregation really gets into the singing and dancing. After the monthly collection is gathered and taken away for counting, the priest calls for donations for each of the parish guilds. I don’t remember all their names, there were at least 8 or 10 and the collection was put into a separate bucket for each. I didn’t realize until the end that there is a competion each month with trophies (and bragging rights) for the guilds that collect the most money. I guess that is why they really get into the music and dancing to encourage others to donate to their favorite cause.
I could tell that the service had the same basic elements as at home. The scripture lessons were read in English, and the tribal languages, Ga and Twi, the last two being read by beautiful young girls that read very well, since it was “youth” Sunday.
Before communion, women from the Guild of the Good Shepard brought forward food and other donations (like toilet paper) and placed them in front of the altar. I’m guessing these were equivalent to our food bank. The donations were blessed with a lot of incense.
The communion was very familiar. At least half of the men and women took communion bare foot. We guessed that this is because the altar is considered sacred ground however the real reason has more to do with the sound that sandals and flip flops make as you walk up the isle.
After communion, the priest blessed our team as well as Zack and Janet for their engagement. Since it was Becki Neuman’s birthday, she joined the others with birthdays for blessings while we all sang Happy Birthday to them.
It was a long service but there was so much going on and changes in style and presentation that I didn’t get restless at all. I’m looking forward to doing it all again next Sunday!