St. Francis, Bekwai

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS ANGLICAN CHURCH BEKWAI-ASHANTI


In early 1925, Opanin Robert Kwaku Amoah, a member of the Anglican Church in Cape Coast, who had returned home after a long stay in Cape Coast and same old students St. Cyprian’s Anglican school in Kumasi, namely Messrs Francis Ankobiah and John Poku Akumea alias Nana Poku Akumea, decided to form an association of Anglican members at Bekwai. The first president was Opanin Robert Kwaku Amoah as the first Priest warden. Founding members were thirty one including two women namely Emilia Dadzie and Margaret Aidoo.

The first secretary was Mr. Dannis Aboraa now the only surviving member. He has unfortunately broken ties with the church presently.

The first Sunday worship coincided with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi in October, 1925. The celebrant, Rev. Fr. Peters of St. Cyprian’s Church, Kumasi, in consultation with the other members adopted the festival saint as the Parochial Saint of the Church seventy two years ago. Subsequent Church services were held at D. C.‘s Court now the Bekwai Community Tribunal and were often conducted by Provost Laing who was then an Ordinand at St. Augustine’s Theological Anglican School in Kumasi. It is on record however the Asanso Road, which was used as a Church. The first assigned priest was along Rev. Fr. J. K. Appiah, whose office was later taken over by Rev. Fr. Poku (Mr. Riley Poku’s father) as the second Priest.

In 1927 membership grew and the need therefore for a permanent Temple with a school building became necessary. Nana Kofi Boakye, the then Omanhene of Bekwai, provided a vast land for the purpose. The first temple and some classrooms were built; part of which is where we are now worshipping while other are being used as primary school classrooms. Funds were provided by members and through biblical concerts organized by Mrs. Dr. Herriet knows and her husband.

The foundation stones of the blocks were laid by Mr. T.R.O. Morgan the then District Commissioner of Bekwia, together with Nana Kofi Boakye the then Omanhene of Bekwai and Nana Kofi Adu the then Omanhene of Kokofu.

The first mission house which was located along the railways station road, right opposite the Amankwaa quarters was provided by Mr. G.D. Egremont, a well known book and stationery dealer and a staunch Anglican member.

In 1952, membership became very large and this necessitated the construction of much larger and permanent temple. Under the leadership therefore of Rev. Fr. J. B. Arthur, Priest –In Charge who became the first Bishop of Kumasi Diocese, Opanin Kwaku Amoa, priest’s warden and Francis Aidoo, people’s warden plans were initiated towards the putting up of the permanent temple. A fund for the project was realized from birth day collections from members. (Here I would like to make special mention of the following elders who made tremendous contribution; Messrs H. R. Annan, Franics Ankobiah, Samuel Aidoo, Abraham Poku, Kusi Appau, Morgan,Kojo Dauh, Laryea and others.)

Between 1961 -1965, the construction of the much awaited temple was started under the able leadership of Rev. Fr. Edmund K. Yeboah who was then the Parish Priest- In–Charge and later became Bishop of the Kumasi Anglican Diocese in conjunction with his wardens, Mr. Francis Ahenkan and Opanin Kwaku Amoa. Rev. Fr. Francis Agyeman later became the priest-in-charge and had to continue work on the temple. He was later relieved by Rev. Fr. Francis Baidoo. Baidoo was also relieved by Rev. Fr. T. P. Ward while Rev. Fr. A. K. Amoah also took over from Rev. Fr. T. P. Ward.

The temple was finally completed under the leadership of Rev. Fr. A.K. Mensah who later became the Provost of the Cathedral of Kumasi. The temple was dedicated in the memory of the late Rt. Rev. Bishop John Angloby in 1976.

After Rev. Fr. A. K. Mensah’s transfer, Rev. Fr. Mends took over as Priest-In-Charge. He was also transferred after four years stay and his place was taken over by Rev. Fr. Akumiah who also stayed for over four years and left for Rev. Canon Andrews to take over in 1988.

In 1990, disaster struck against this church as the temple which was to be the permanent building together with the mission house were pulled down by the government to given way for the construction of the Anwiankwanta/cape coast truck road. This sad event took place when rev. canon Andrews was in office. A minimal compensation of ¢33,000,000.00 (thirty-three million cedis) was paid to the Church for both the Church building and the mission house reconstruction.

A Building Committee of seven namely, Francis Aidoo, Fred Asiedu, Dickson A. Mensah, Agnes Agyemang, Rev. Canon Moses Andrews, Rev. Fr. Francis P. A. Boating and Joe Dadzie were appointed by the Bishop, Rt. Rev. Edmund K. Yeboah to see to the building of a temple and a mission house. Work accordingly started in 1992.

The mission house has been completed and is in use. Work on the temple is still going on. Even though work has been progressing steadily, financial constraints have not made it possible to progress as it should. So far, an amount of about one hundred and twenty million Cedis (¢120,000,000.00) including the seven million Cedis (¢7,000,000.00) given to this Church by the then Bishop of the Kumasi Diocese as assistance, has been spent on the two projects.

Due to Rev. Canon Moses Andrews transfer to Koforidua/Ho Diocese, Rev. Fr. Agyiri Kyeremeh became the Priest-In -Charge/Acting Archdeacon of Bekwai. He later left for further studies at Winneba and his place was taken over by rev. canon boating who was later enthroned as the substantive Archdeacon of Bekwai and the supervisor of the new Church building.

Presently Rev. Canon Elvis Kwame Acheampong who assumed duty in Bekwai in September, 1999 as the Archdeacon of the Bekwai Archdeaconry which comprises of Bekwai Parish, Obuasi Parish and Jachie Parish is the resident priest-in charge as well.

We are thankful to our sympathizers, benefactors and all Church members for their willingness to contribute towards the two projects, special mention should be made of the following for their kind and regular assistance, Nana Tutu Akate I, Omanhene of Bekwai of Bekwai of blesses memory, Mr. S. K. Riley Poku of Kumasi, Mr. M.R.K. Bentil, Nana Boakye, Prof. Ben Edoo. Mr. O.T. Agyeman the Architect who drew the building plan free of charge and Nana Akyempimhene of Kumasi.

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