Ghanaians across the country ushered in the New Year with various activities, the predominant being church services and vigils.
While many Christians found themselves in churches, others welcomed the New Year in blistering mood in pubs, drinking spots and places where entertainment was the order of the day.
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With regard to Christians, the period leading up to the New Year could be described as a period of victory, as most of them, clad in mostly white apparels, prayed, sang, praised and thanked God for seeing them through 2019.
Whether it was a ‘Cross Over’, ‘Passover’ or ‘Jump Over’ service, the general themes of joy, victory, appreciation and expectation cut across the numerous church services that ushered in the New Year.
December 31 being the last day of the year, even people who had not been to church throughout the year took advantage of the occasion to be in church in order to receive the last blessing of the year and also dedicate themselves to God for the New Year.
The shuffling resulted in heavy vehicular traffic and mass movement of people, especially in the nation’s capital, due to the sheer number of worshippers and merrymakers.
Security was very tight in some of the churches due to a security alert that had been issued prior to the New Year festivities.
Policemen were seen on motorbikes and in vehicles, patrolling vantage flashpoints and areas of fun and entertainment.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, joined the Ridge Church to cross over, while the Vice-President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, joined the congregation of the Kaneshie Presbyterian Church for the watch-night service as a special guest.
The premises of the two churches were filled to capacity, with some of the worshippers spilling over to the car park, as members, many of whom were clad in white apparel, prayed, danced and sang praises to God for his guidance throughout last year, reports Chris Nunoo.
The arrival of Dr Bawumia at the Kaneshie Presbyterian Church increased the energy levels of the congregants, who cheered and waved at him as he went round and shook hands with some members of the church before he took his seat.
Dr Bawumia, who was in the company of some members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), including the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah; the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma Central, Mr Ebenezer Nartey, and the First Vice-Chairman of the NPP, Mr Akwasi Afrifa-Mensa, told the congregation how happy he was joining them for the service.
He also urged Ghanaians to remain united and love one another equally and said all must do their bit to sustain the peace in the country.
Dr Bawumia further reminded the church about this year’s elections and said the process must be devoid of violence saying elections was about sharing of ideas in order that electorates were able to make informed decisions.
The Vice President also spent some time at the children’s Ministry of the church where he interacted with the children and encouraged them to remain disciplined and focused, particularly in school, stressing the importance of education in their future development.
The District Pastor of the church, Rev. Enoch Pobee, in a sermon, called for a united and peaceful Ghana throughout the New Year.
From the Qodesh, the Headquarters of the United Denominations Lighthouse Group of Churches (UDLGOC), Samuel Doe Ablordeppey reports that the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Dag Heward-Mills, declared 2020 “The year of the Shepherd”, which he said was to stir up the interest of the congregation to be shepherds.
Quoting from John 21, he said Jesus’ charge to Simon Peter and His disciples to feed the sheep if they loved Him was a demonstration of how to express love to Christ.
“The greatest thing to give ourselves in 2020 is to feed the sheep, which means we must all be shepherds. Everyone in the UD must be a shepherd. The congregation should be people who look after the lambs, the greatest expression of our love for Jesus Christ,” Bishop Heward-Mills charged.
This year, in the various assemblies of the UDLGOC, the watch-night services started and closed earlier than usual, with the last session at the Qodesh and the First Love Church ending about 10:30 p.m., to the surprise of many.
Although reasons for that were not given, the Daily Graphic gathered that it was in response to a security advice offered by the security agencies to churches to be wary of some extremist acts that could result in casualties during the watch-night services.
Consequently, security was scaled up, with congregants being scanned before being allowed into the auditorium of the Jesus Cathedral.
There were also a number of plainclothesmen at the church, carrying out their duties discretely.
Resurrection Methodist Society
Hundreds of people, both Christians and non-Christians, gathered at the Resurrection Methodist Church, Adenta in Accra, to partake in a special watch-night service to usher in the New Year.
Clad mostly in white apparel to signify victory as they entered the New Year, the congregation sang various Gospel songs to give thanks to God for His abundant grace during the year.
The Superintendent Minister of the church, the Very Rev. Andrew Mbeah-Baiden, preached on the need for peace on all fronts in the daily lives of people, particularly when 2020 was an election year, Charles Benoni Okine reports.
He told the congregation that as Christians, and for that matter Ghanaians, there was the need for them to be at peace with the state, explaining that that would enable them to obey the laws of the land.
“If you are at peace with the state, you will honour your tax obligations, adhere to sanitation bye-laws and do what will make the country progress,” he said.
“I also entreat you to be at peace with yourselves; be at peace with your partners and family and be at peace with your neighbours,” he added.
Black Star Square
The International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) held its usual Cross Over Service at the Black Star Square to bid farewell to 2019 and usher in the New Year, writes Joshua Bediako Koomson.
A large number of church members from across the length and breadth of the city thronged the place to ask for God’s renewed strength for the New Year.
Some seasonal Christians also took the opportunity to reignite their relationship with God.
By 7 p.m. last Tuesday, the event had generated huge traffic from the Accra International Conference Centre to the Osu Castle Road, while the road from the Osu Cemetery to the Accra Sports Stadium was not left out. There were private security men around to direct traffic.
This year’s service saw enhanced security, as the police were well represented, fully armed and spread across the entire prayer grounds to ensure the place was rid of any miscreants.
At the headquarters of the Perez Chapel International at Dzorwulu in Accra, hundreds of church members, clad mostly in white attire, celebrated, danced and sang praises to God for ushering them into the New Year, Emmanuel Bonney writes.
They were joined by some members of the various branches of the church across the country, who watched the event on Precious Television on giant screens.
In his prophetic message, the Presiding Bishop of the church, Bishop Charles Agyinasare, declared 2020 as the “Year of Stability”.
“The year 2020 is your season of completeness. God sent me to tell you that your waiting is over,” he said, among other declarations.
He charged members to be steadfast and support the work of God to aid stability.
Lords Pentecostal Church
From the Lord’s Pentecostal Church International, Ruby Buafor reports that the General Overseer, Apostle Richard Buafor, called on Ghanaians to come together.
He further called on Ghanaians not to take the peace the country was currently enjoying for granted.
While calling on politicians to campaign peacefully and also accept election results in good faith, Apostle Buafor advised prophets to use their gifts in a mature way and desist from abusing their prophetic gifts and using them for profit.
The Presiding Bishop of the Western West Africa Episcopal District of the AME Zion Church, the Rt Rev. Dr Hilliard Dela Dogbe, called on Christians to keep their focus on God as they went through the New Year, Emmanuel Bonney reports.
He said although some might have some anxieties as a result of experiences in the past year, “you should know that God is faithful”.
“You know we cannot be working in a vacuum; it is important that we keep our focus on God and trust Him in all situations,” he said in a New Year Message.
“You know we had a splendid year in 2019; splendid because God has brought us through it faithfully to the end and we can only say ‘thank you Jesus for your faithfulness and for your great mercies over us’,” he said.
From the regions
At the Tamale Branch of the Winners Chapel International, the congregation observed the 31st Watch-night and cross over service to usher in the New Year, Samuel Dodoo reports.
The service, which also doubled as an all-night service, was charged with celebration and singing. There was also a live satellite broadcast from the headquarters of the church in Nigeria.
The Head Bishop and President of the church, Bishop David Oyedepo, who preached the sermon, urged Christians to be conscious of God’s plan for their lives as they entered the New Year.
He asked everyone to note that life was a race Christians must run because they could not win the race sitting down.
“Christian must be steadfast, hardworking, courageous, faithful and believing in God to succeed in winning the race of life,” he added.
Shirley Asiedu-Addo reports from Cape Coast, the Central Regional capital, that there was excitement in the churches there as the clock struck 12 midnight, with congregants, clad mostly in white, singing praises to God for letting them see the New Year.
Preaching the sermon at the Lighthouse Chapel International, Rev. Paschal Godwyll said the Lord would bless Christians who sought to do the work of God in 2020.
Making reference to Mathew 6:33, he said in 2020 Christians must seek first the Kingdom of God by working for the growth of the church and God would meet their needs.
At the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church at Pedu, Rev. Francis Obeng advised the congregation to reconnect with God and believe Him to turn things around for the better in the New Year.