Anyone who takes a cursory look at the history of the
young Mission founded Churches in Africa, for the past century,
will immediately realise that the responsibility of almost all the
young Churches in Africa, and Ghana in particular, both for the spir¬
itual care and the administration of the congregations, has fallen
on the indigenous Church workers. Indeed they have increasingly
carried out their work with astonishing success.
Many Mission Churches have achieved autonomy. The
Basel Mission has become the I resbyterian Church of Ghana under its
own Moderator. The esleyan Mission Society has become the Meth¬
odist Church of Ghana with its own Chairman. And the English
Missionary Diocese has also become part o the new Province of est
Africa under its own Archbishop. And though these independent
Churches are administered by the African clergy from within and
have since ceased to be dominated by the parent Churches yet through¬
out the years, the Churches' mode of expression and structures
have remained esternised and have been subject to little or no
One has to bear in mind that the era is passed when
Missionary agents were wont to criticise adversely almost all the
aspects of the traditional customs and practices. e are now wit¬
nessing an era of understanding and enlightenment. For, research
studies in the political, social, legal and reli,;ious structures
of many Ghanaian societies have been undertaken in the works of
H.d. :attray, M.Field, E.A.Basis and J.M.Banquah.
In the light of this new knowledge of traditional soc¬
iety, both foreign and indigenous Churchmen are not only question¬
ing the Churches' attitudes and policies to traditional customs,
but are endeavouring to extract and more than that to incorporate
all the good features of the traditional customs into the Churches
for the Churches' enrichment both structurally and liturgically.
There is a new quest to make the universal import of Christianity
felt in all lands and places. It is the fervent desire of many
Churchmen today that Christianity be introduced to all people
in such a way that it will not appear antagonistic to but fulfil
what is lacking in their cultural heritage.
The question is often raised as to the extent to which
the spirit of the Christian message has penetrated into the home
and community, especially in connection with those personal and
social ceremonies. It is in the light of such questioning that
a careful study of the Churches' attitudes and policies to these
personal and social ceremonies have been found essential.
For the general knowledge of the Akan religion, customs,
and institutions, I am indebted to the works of Rattray, Field,
Busia and Banquah from which I have drawn my sources for the survey.
Throughout this survey I have thought it necessary to illustrate,
as far as I possibly can, with documentary evidence, the different
positions taken by the Churches on particular issues. But where
there was a concensus of opinion only one source has been quoted
to avoid duplications.
Apart from my personal comments which are interspersed
in the survey, it would be noticed that at the end of almost every
main topic some questions and problems which either need solutions
or further investigation have been raised. I have used the term
Protestant in a general sense to refer to all the non-Roman
Catholic Churches. But the two major Churches (i.e. the iresbyterians
and the Methodists) received special attention. However,
references have been made to some Independent Churches in so far
as they present a marked contrast in policy to the above mentioned
Churches. I should also like to say that I am conscious of inade¬
quacies and inconsistencies which have been left unexplained for
many reasons, to which, I hope, the reader will bear with me.