The Pentecost International Worship Centres this July commemorate twenty-five years in the existence of the concept. Even though, it is a well-known fact that this is one of the most vilified and fought against concepts ever introduced into The Church of Pentecost, it is arguably the single concept that has revolutionized the face of The Church of Pentecost and church growth strategies in Ghana since the 1980s.
In a proposal addressed to the General Secretary dated 3rd March 1989, Elder Kweku Boateng (former Cabinet Minister in the government of Kwame Nkrumah), Elder Kofi Marfo Amponsah and Prof. Andrew K. Addae made arguments for the re-organization of the then English Assemblies (Accra, Kumasi, Tema, Koforidua, Cape Coast, etc) into Central Worship Temples. They cited the Calvary Baptist Church at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and Calvary Methodist Church in Adabraka as approaches that had been used by the Ghana Baptist Convention and Methodist Church of Ghana to retain its educated within a certain cross-cultural setting. Interestingly, nothing much was heard of the proposal and the status-quo continued.
In 1991, the Church established an International Missions Directorate with Aps. Opoku Onyinah as the first Director (IMD). Then in 1992, Aps. Opoku Onyinah, who had been assigned to worship with the English Assembly at Kokomlemle with additional responsibility of co-ordinating the English-speaking Churches in Accra. The IMD used the opportunity to understudy other ministries and was convinced that the English Assemblies as they existed were underutilizing their potential as individual churches and could become effective cross-cultural centres of worship. Additionally they were being stifled of growth as they appeared lonely in the midst of thriving ‘local assemblies’. With the blessing of the Executive Council, he held two extensive meetings with the presbyters of all the three English Assemblies in Accra (Dansoman, Kokomlemle and Cantonments) on Wednesday, 22nd July 1992 and Tuesday, 4th August 1992 at the ATTC in Kokomlemle.
The outcome of those meetings led to some proposals being made to the Executive Council on the establishment of worship centres in the church. The proposals as approved, led to the amalgamation of the three English Assemblies in Accra into the Accra International Worship Centre (AIWC) during church’s Council Meeting in April 1993 with the full status of a district.
Under the chairmanship of Aps. Patrick Asiamah as Regional Apostle for Greater Accra ‘A’, the AIWC was inaugurated on Sunday, 4th July 1993 at the CIDA Hall of the Accra Technical Training Centre and with Aps. Opoku Onyinah as its first Resident Minister. The other officers that comprised the leadership included Eld. Emmanuel A. Boate (Presiding Elder), Eld. Abua-Ayisi (Finance), Eld. Joe Egyir-Paintsil (District Secretary), Eld. John Abraham Larkai, Eld. Kofi Marfo Amponsah, Dcns. Mrs. Ama Amponsah (Women’s Leader), Rev. Dr. Paa Ekow Quaye, Eld. Dr. S.A. Arthur, Eld. K. Okyere-Larbi, Eld. Benjamin Asamoah and Eld. Michael Okai-Addo. Rev. John Waller (and his wife), Trish, who had just arrived into the country as Elim Missionaries to the church was also assigned to the Centre as Associate Minister for an eleven-year period.
Soon thereafter, an English Assembly worshipping under the direction of the Regional Apostle for Ashanti Region ‘A’, was also converted into the Kumasi International Worship Centre (KIWC) in 1995 with Rev. Jerry Paul Adjah as its first Resident Pastor.
Subsequently at the General Council Meeting of 1996 held in Koforidua, the Accra and Kumasi International Worship Centres were re-christened the Pentecost International Worship Centre-Accra and Pentecost International Worship Centre-Kumasi respectively ostensiblyto reflect its roots in The Church of Pentecost.
Since then, several PIWCs have emerged across the country and beyond. Initially, it appeared that there was an unwritten rule for each administrative region to have one PIWC. Then towards the mid-2000s when the church switched to the administrative Area concept from that of the Region, it again appeared that each Area required a PIWC.
It is important to note that the Pentecost International Worship Centre was established as a specialized ministry of the Church to provide a well-organised, multi-cultural churches for expatriates who wanted a place to worship God as well as Ghanaian brethren who for various reasons preferred to worship in the English Language or within a multi-cultural environment They were therefore expected to be places of worship where all people of diverse national and cultural backgrounds would feel welcome to fellowship.
From a single PIWC-Accra worshipping in Kokomlemle, there exist today over forty PIWCs in Ghana alone, in addition to others in Europe, North America and Asia.
Remarkably, some denominations over time have also adopted similar models for their churches. The Assemblies of God Church established the Transcontinental Worship Centre in Adjiringanor-East Legon in the late 1990s, Presbyterian International Worship Centre in 2012 and Baptist International Worship Centre in 2017 at Abelenkpe among others.
The PIWCs have over time become huge centres of Pentecostal worship from where ‘missionaries’ are sent out for evangelistic exploits, from where huge financial support have gone to support the construction of church buildings, motor cycles, etc for mission areas. They have also been a major stimulus in causing gradual shifts in church practice and re-positioning the church for contemporary relevance. Ultimately, they have offered solace for many young persons who may probably have left the church because they could not fit into the typical local assembly. For all of this, it is imperative that we applaud the zeal and commitment of the leaders who worked tirelessly to have the PIWC concept effectively rolled-out in the heady days as well as all others who have sustained it over the years to date.
After twenty-five years of its implementation however, the question that remains to be answered is whether or not the PIWC concept is being achieved as envisioned by the leadership of The Church of Pentecost. As the popular maxim goes, ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’.
Therefore, it would be highly imperative for leadership of the church as well as the PIWCs to re-examine themselves in the light of their ethos, policies, etc within the larger context of the PIWC vision whilst also examining the placement of the PIWCs within the set-up and whether or not it offers the best platform for them to fully live out their mandate. It is only then that very useful lessons can be taken that would ensure that the PIWCs are well-positioned to deal with contemporary challenges as it keeps its place in possessing the nations for Christ. The best strategy of the church to achieve this is to build effective 21stCentury churches that are able to live out the mandate of the 1stCentury Church. It is indeed doable!
May God continue to water the PIWC concept to flourish into that mighty tree that continues to bear good fruit in its season!
Long live The Church of Pentecost and the ministry of Jesus Christ!
My dear friend,