Today was a day of worship and offering.
We split up and went in groups of two or three to six different churches in Cape Coast.
St. Mary the Virgin
St. James Elmina
Thomas Thompson (first SPG missionary to West Africa)
Christ Church Cathedral
St. Teresa of Avila (which is high above the city and has a lovely view)
and Philip Quaque (first African ordained as an Anglican priest more about him here).
Tim Black, Athena Richardson, and I went to Philip Quaque, one of the churches where our guide for the week, Fr. Theo is assisting priest.
A custom here is that the Sunday after Easter is “Kente Sunday.” Worshippers are encouraged to wear Kente dress. It was a beautiful morning to visit!
Also, as it happened, this was the day across the diocese for the annual parish meeting and parish elections. Vestries are all elected at once to serve for three years together. The priest appoints a Priest’s Warden and the congregation elects a People’s Warden. Here, the People’s Warden at Philip Quaque was stepping down after three years.
Eucharist was beautiful. Hymns were familiar. Music was led by organ, trumpet, drums, and singers. I’ve rarely seen so much incense. (Nor have I ever taken so many pictures during worship, but Fr. Theo encouraged it!).
But the best part of all was the offering. Worshipers came down the aisle bringing their gifts with joy and intention. Later in the service I attended, there was a second offering of thanksgiving. Others reported multiple offerings as well.
In the evening, we all returned to the Cathedral for an Evensong and the Installation of our group leaders – Canon John Thompson-Quartey and Sharon Hiers – as Honorary Canons of the Cathedral. We chanted the psalms, sang Easter hymns and prayed. Canon John preached.
Bishop Victor shared his vision for the Diocese of Cape Coast:
- Spiritual sustainability based on the belief that if we focus on building people, God will build the Church
- Stewardship of spiritual gifts – using all the gifts of all people
- Financial sustainability, knowing that the little we give provides the potential to accomplish great things. “We are not enough, but with God with us we are a majority.”
As part of this vision, he shared a goal of building an endowment to support clergy pensions and diocesan infrastructure, which sounds like a great idea to me.
And in the midst of this worship and joy and offering and visioning, we ate lunch at the Castle Beach Restaurant, next door to Cape Coast Castle which we will visit tomorrow.
Claudette began talking with some children who were selling fruit and playing near the beach and castle. She bought some fruit, gave it to them, and then bought lunch for several who said they were hungry.
The beach by the restaurant is beautiful, like the worship we shared, and lunch was delicious.
But the shadows of slavery and colonialism are everywhere. We ate lunch in the shadow of the castle, which was a strange thing. And in a way, we worshiped in that shadow as well. While I loved the opportunity to share familiar, beautiful liturgies of Eucharist and Evensong with new friends on the other side of the Atlantic, I couldn’t help but remember that the events that brought Anglicanism to this place also brought the slave trade and taught that English ways life were best. Some forms of African culture are incorporated in the liturgy today, but I wonder what was lost.
We often don’t know how to deal with our mixed legacy as Anglicans. I’m so grateful for what we share as Anglicans around the world, and so sad that much of what we share came from a painful past. Both are true. But maybe my new friend Claudette offers an example. In the shadow of the castle today, she fed some hungry children. And in the shadow of our past as Anglicans, we can share in acts of beauty, generosity, and redemption that manifest God’s love to the world.
Bishop Victor said that the theme of the Diocesan Synod that launched the current vision was this: “You cannot do everything. So do something.” Good advice for us all. Amen.