EBENEZER METHODIST CHURCH, HYATTSVILLE.
Formation: Ebenezer Methodist Church was formed in 1992 by four individuals, namely, the Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Kow Ghunney, the late Brother Dr. Joseph Attah-Quartey, Brother Kofi Abruquah and Sister Cecilia Ghunney. Through the inspiration and guidance of God, these four individuals came together to discuss the necessity and feasibility of establishing a church in the Ghanaian Methodist tradition and liturgy which would cater to the spiritual and pastoral needs of Ghanaians in the Washington Metropolitan area.
The maiden service was held at the Free United Methodist Church, Layhill, Maryland on May 17, 1992 was attended by twenty-one pioneering members and consisted of the following: Very Rev Dr. Joseph Kow Ghunney, the late Brother (Dr.) Joseph Attah-Quartey, Brother Kofi Abruquah, Sister Cecilia Ghunney, Sister Yvonne Ghunney, Sister Aya Ghunney, Sister Felicia Ekua Amissah, Brother Peter K. Forson, Sister Ama Sekyiwa Abruquah, Sister Faustina Abruquah, Brother Isaac Ebow Pesseh, Brother Kweku Bosomtwe Pesseh, Sister Maggie Pesseh, Sister Agnes Duker, Sister Baaba Odduro, Sister Ekua Odduro, Sister Aba Esiaw Dufu Odduro, Sister Gladys Ako-Adjei, Sister Naa Baake Ako-Adjei and Sister Naana Efisima Ako-Adjei. Eight months later, due to the rapid growth in membership, the Church moved to the First United Methodist Church, Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, Maryland.
The Church was incorporated in the State of Maryland in 1993 with the Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Kow Ghunney as the resident minister.
Inauguration and Growth: On Sunday, June 11, 1995, Ebenezer Methodist Church was formally inaugurated by the then President of the Methodist Church Ghana, the Right Rev. Professor Kwesi Dickson. In 1997, as the congregation increased in membership, the Church moved once again to the Annex of the National Wesleyan Church, Riggs Road, Hyattsville, MD. This move was accomplished with the help of Brother Kwabena Nketia, a church leader at the National Wesleyan Church. That same year, the Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Kow Ghunney left for Ghana to serve Trinity Theological Seminary at Legon, Ghana. The pastoral duties of the Church were therefore entrusted to Rev. Ebenezer Ato Afful, an ordained Presbyterian Minister. He was assisted by the Rev. Kofi Bart-Martin. Under Rev. Ato Afful, EMC developed a strategic plan to raise funds to purchase or build a permanent place of worship. Ebenezer Methodist Church still has that goal in its sights.
The First Split: In October 1998, the then Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, the Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Asante-Antwi, made an administrative decision to replace Rev. Ato Afful with the Rev. Kofi Bart-Martin as the pastor of Ebenezer Methodist Church. This decision, which came as a huge surprise to the EMC membership, created a rift in the church. This eventually resulted in the first split in the Church. With the support and help of some members, Rev. Ato Afful left Ebenezer Methodist Church to form a new Church. In the interim, Rev. Alfred Kwamena Ainooson, an ordained minister of the AME Zion Church was appointed by the Presiding Bishop to temporarily assist the Very Rev. Kofi Bart-Martin in overseeing the affairs of the Church. Less than a year later, in August 1999, Rev. John K. Bassaw, an ordained Methodist minister pursuing graduate work at the Wesleyan Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. was appointed by the Methodist Church, Ghana as co-pastor of Ebenezer Methodist Church. Rev. Bassaw served in this capacity until 2002 when he left to start his doctoral studies at a seminary in Indiana.
St. Matthews’ Anglican/ Episcopal Church as the new place of worship: In 2002, as a result of the rapid growth and expansion of the Church, EMC was compelled to look for a new and more spacious place for worship. By the Grace of God, the Rev. Noreen Dubay Seiler and the Trustees of St. Matthew’s Anglican Episcopal Church (Nicholson Street & 36th Ave., Hyattsville) approved our application to use their sanctuary and the Church facilities for worship and other worship-related activities. In January 2003, EMC started worshipping at St. Matthew’s, which serves as its present place of worship.
The Second Split: The Very Rev. Kofi Bart-Martin who was the resident minister at EMC was stationed at Emmanuel Methodist Church in Newark, New Jersey. Unfortunately, the leaders and the members of Emmanuel Methodist Church rejected the stationing of the Very Rev. Kofi Bart-Martin as their pastor. The outcome of this rejection and the failure of the Methodist Church Ghana to find a station for the Very Rev. Bart-Martin resulted in another dissension at EMC, and the second split, with some members leaving the Church to form the Covenant Methodist Church in 2003. The new Church invited Rev. Kofi Bart Martin to be its minister.
Other Lay and Ministerial Leadership of EMC: The formation of the Washington Mission Circuit came with some pastoral challenges which made the leaders’ meeting initiated the search for a new resident minister with the approval of Very Rev. John Hammond. In the interim, Brother William Percival Brown-Orleans was appointed the Caretaker of Ebenezer Methodist Church in 2004.
In July 2005, EMC accepted the Very Rev. Dr. Helena Araba Grahl, a post graduate doctoral student at the Andover Theological School in Massachusetts, was accepted as the resident minister. This arrangement also enabled Rev. Grahl to complete her one year internship (Optional Practical Training) with EMC and left for Ghana in July 2006.
In November 2006, Very Rev. Francis Acquah who was pursuing a doctoral degree in Theology at the Hartford Seminary Institute was accepted as the minister of Ebenezer Methodist Church. The Rev. Dr. Francis Acquah was followed by Rev. Dr. Isaac Ishmael Arthur in 2011, who was also at Emory University, Atlanta pursuing his doctoral degree.
The Methodist Church Ghana Conference stationed Rt. Rev. Benjamin K. Asare to EMC as both the resident minister and also the first Supervising Missions Coordinator (SMC) for the North American Mission. Rt. Rev. Asare served EMC from November 2011 to October 2013. He was transferred to the Mount Zion Methodist Church in Atlanta.
Very Rev. Dr. Jacob W. French took up the stewardship of the Ebenezer Methodist Church in October 2013, and continues at this point in time to be the resident minister for EMC as well as Superintendent Minister of the Washington Circuit, comprising the seven (7) Methodist Churches in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
ORGANIZATIONS: Over the period of eighteen years EMC has grown into a full-fledged Methodist Church with the following organizations in the church: The Church Choir was inaugurated in 1996; Women’s Fellowship, inaugurated 1997; Men’s Fellowship, inaugurated 1998; Methodist Youth Fellowship, inaugurated 2000; Methodist Singing Band, inaugurated 2003; Lay Movement, inaugurated 2010; Christ’s Little Band, inaugurated 2013; Susanna Wesley Mission Auxiliary inaugurated 2013.
The Mission House/Parsonage:
In 2007, Ebenezer Methodist Church was bequeathed a large cash donation by an unknown benefactor, the late Frances Marsh. Part of that bequest was used to purchase a Manse to be used as the Church’s Mission House and the residence for EMC pastor.
EMC’s contribution to Washington Metro Area & North America Mission
At various stages in its existence, EMC played an active and leading role in the growth of Ghana Methodism in the Washington Metro area. The Very Rev. Dr. John A. K. Bonful, a member of Ebenezer Methodist Church, whilst waiting for his re-instatement of connexion, left in 1997 to form the Calvary Redeeming Methodist Church in Rockville, MD.
Under the direction of the Very Rev. Kofi Bart-Martin and the Very Rev. John Bassaw, a preaching post was started in Virginia for members who lived in Virginia and had to travel long distances to attend church services at Ebenezer in Hyattsville. That preaching post was inaugurated and named the Gaddiel Acquaah Memorial Methodist Church in October 2001 with the Very Rev. John Hammond as its first resident minister.
In July1998, the Ebenezer Methodist Church Choir in conjunction with the Ghana United Methodist Church Choir of Bronx, New York, Ghana Community Church Choir of Atlanta and Ghana Methodist Church Choir of Toronto, Canada formed the Association of Ghana Methodist Church Choirs of North America. The successful conference of the Association of Ghana Methodist Church Choirs of North America, led to the formation of the Association of Ghana Methodist Churches of North America in September 1998 under the initiative of Rev. Kofi Bart Martin and Brother Kofi Abruquah. This association later became the Fellowship of Ghanaian Methodist Churches of North America. Its aim was to bring together all the Ghanaian Methodist churches in North America. Its first meeting, organized under the auspices of Ebenezer Methodist Church was attended by Ghanaian Methodist churches in North America at Hyattsville, Maryland.
MERGER OF TWO CHURCHES
In September 2014, in line with the continuing efforts by the Methodist Church Ghana to reorganize the various Methodist Societies in North America and Canada which resulted in the creation of various Circuits and, following an exhortation by the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel K. Asante, a resolution was passed at the 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the North America Mission of the Methodist Church Ghana to the effect that considered it desirable for the Ebenezer Methodist Church of Hyattsville, Maryland, and the Calvary Redeeming Methodist Church of Rockville, Maryland to merge under the name Ebenezer Methodist Church.
The object of the reconstitution was to achieve a unity of action in Worship, Evangelism, Community/Social Outreach, and strength in numbers. Also, to harness both financial and professional resources for the fiscal development agenda of the mission which include securing a suitable permanent place of worship which shall provide facilities for a Sanctuary, a General Purposes Activity Hall, a Church Office, a Ministers’ Common Room, Organizational Rehearsals and Meeting Rooms, Storage Rooms, and a History and Archives Room.
The Standing Committee and the Quarterly Meeting of the Washington Circuit in April 2014 resolved to implement the decision of the Annual General Meeting on the need to merge two societies in Maryland, namely Ebenezer and Calvary congregations. That reorganization was effected through a Deed of Merger by representatives of the two congregations under the supervision and endorsement of the Very Rev. Dr. Jacob W. French, Resident Minister of the Ebenezer Methodist Church and the Circuit Superintendent of the Washington Circuit.