Ghanaian Seventh-Day Adventists living along the Pacific Union as well as nationals from other African nations on December 10, 2016, gathered in Riverside, California to participate in a High Sabbath service welcoming the Riverside Ghanaian Seventh – day Adventist Company into the sisterhood of churches in the Southeastern California conference.
Ghana, a nation of 27 million people, like most African nations continues to experience a spontaneous burst in church growth. Before the Adventist message got to the shores of Ghana, (then called the Gold Coast), in 1888, Ghanaians already worshipped God the creator of the universe on Saturday, the rest day of God. Though an agrarian society, there was no farming activities on Saturdays. Saturdays were the rest day. God’s name was and continues to be “Onyankropon Kwame” The only true God born on Saturday. Accepting the Seventh-Day Adventism truths became very easy for Ghanaians. Congregating on Saturday to worship therefore is a cultural tradition for Ghanaian Adventists wherever they are.
With Ghanaian populations increasing especially along the East Coast of America, Ghanaian Adventists have established over 35 churches across the United States, of which The Riverside Ghanaian SDA Church is the first officially recognized group in the Pacific Union.
For me to see this day after we began this group almost ten years ago is just over whelming for me” Kofi Antobam, the very first lead elder of the group in telling the history of the church said. He used the opportunity to thank the Amponsah, Arko-Mensah, Boafo and Kankam families for their generosity and welcome for the pioneer members of the church who then were students at La Sierra University.
The colorful infectious worship experience with most members in the congregation dressed in Ghanaian and African clothes indeed was a visible expression of thanks to God for leading the group this far.
In preaching the sermon, Pastor Jonathan Park, Executive Secretary of the Southeastern California Conference remarked “Your culture is amazing and I can already feel it, you sing everything, singing is your conversation, certain things should never be forgotten, such as the recognition in your culture about this God who created you”. He reminded the congregation that the call to worship as prescribed by our Lord Jesus Christ is to follow Him. Following Jesus basically is to serve others and the whole community. Whilst the world focuses on leadership, following Christ is about serving others.
Ps Park, reminded members about the upper room experience of Christ and His disciples as recorded in John 13, on how Jesus, the creator of the universe showed them the full extent of His love by taking water in a bowl and washing the feet of each of His disciples. He urged members of this new church to follow the example of Christ in showing leadership by serving each other. “if a guest comes to this church, would that person be shocked by the humility of the leaders and the congregation, would that person be shocked by your attitude of service ” He asked. “ When your guests are shocked by your humble spirit, this church will grow.
After a motion was made by the lead elder, Isaac Amo-Kyereme and seconded by the entire congregation the Riverside Ghanaian Seventh – Day Adventist Church was officially admitted into the sisterhood of churches in the Southeastern California Conference.
In a prayer of dedication and in affirming the faith of the church, Ps George King, the Vice President of the SECC responsible for Black Ministries, reminded members who had come from the Bay Area Ghanaian group, Los Angeles Ghanaian group, Phoenix Ghanaian group and the All Nations African SDA church to remember we are the remnant church. The last day church set aside by God to tell of His love to the world. If we should go about cautious about the fact that if there is one person the Lord is relying on to speak of His love, that person is me, we would be better ambassadors of Christ. We are a church set aside to telling the world of the Lord’s promise and of His soon return.
Dr Alex Clerk, president of the Pacific Ghanaian Adventist Fellowship (PaGAF), Pastor Chris Oberg and Pastor Vaughn Nelson all from the La Sierra University church supported the two lead pastors in this worship experience.
The church worships at 12155 Magnolia Ave, Suite 4-A, Riverside, CA 92503. Tel: 9512862222
By Isaac Amo Kyereme