Friday, March 6, 2009

Ten things I have learned

March 1st, Kumasi

When we first arrived in Ghana, I didn't know what to expect - what was "proper behavior in church." Craig has preached in a different church every Sunday. Now that I've had a few churches to compare, I'm feeling more comfortable. Here are ten things I have learned.

1. Anglican Church services in Ghana are Long. Three and a half hours. And that's if there's nothing else going on.
2. There's always something else going on.
3. And they're very formal. 16 acolytes.
4. When I feel hot, I look at Craig wearing a clergy shirt, alb, chausable and stole and I stop feeling sorry for myself.
5. Some parishes are full of life and others are stiff. Not so different from home, really. You can always tell by who claps with the music. Unfortunately this can be so much fun that it can make the service longer.
6. Most churches use sound systems. Young people like to turn the amplifiers up high.
7. They use lots of incense, sometimes 2 or 3 thuribles going at the same time. I've noticed that it doesn't seem to be enough smoke until you can't see the altar.
8. Fund raising is a weekly and essential part of every priests' and bishops' job. They are very plain about it. At the offertory you march to the front of the church and place your donation into the collection box pew by pew (accompanied by music of course.) They might pass the plate too. And then there may be a special collection where you march to the front again, sometimes according to the day of the week you were born, competing to see which day's group gave the most. After the announcements at the end of the service, the Anglican Youth might have a fund raising session. They you can go home. Churches give 50 or 60 percent of their income for the work of the diocese.
9. Anglican clergy and leadership shoulder a huge responsibility. They are deeply involved in the life of their congregations. They "wear many hats," civic and religious. They are highly respected and can get things done that other people can't. People look to them for leadership and direction.
10. They make me sit up front. I am honoured, but you know me....

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