Emmanuel Tettey studied economics at university but now finds himself working for a church-run interfaith centre and a peace programme for youth. Both are initiatives of the Presbyterian Church in Ghana (PCG) one of WCRC’s two Ghanaian member churches.
I met Emanuel when he served as the lead Steward for the recent meeting of WCRC’s executive committee in Dodowa, Ghana. His role was to work with WCRC’s senior administrative assistant from Geneva, Ida Milli, to train seven stewards and manage their schedules throughout the 12-day meeting from May 5-17.
Emanuel impressed WCRC’s leadership with his ability to remain calm and focused while finding solutions to the changing and complex needs of a group of 60 people from more than 20 countries.
While eating a boxed lunch on Thursday as we perched on the edge of a raised walkway in a shopping mall, Emanuel told me how it was that he found himself working full-time for the church.
It all began with him accepting an offer in 2010 to serve for six months as an ecumenical youth volunteer in Baden, Germany in a programme organized by Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS).
When Emmanuel returned to Ghana from Germany, it was time for him to do the year of compulsory national service that all Ghanaian youth are required to complete. He chose an assignment working with Solomon Sule Saa who heads PCG’s Interfaith Centre and its Youth Peace Programme. His year of service that began in October 2010 has stretched to nearly three years.
Along the way he has served as a steward at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation of the World Council of Churches held in 2011 in Jamaica. It was that experience that brought him to WCRC’s attention.
The years with the PCG have been full. At the Interfaith Centre, Emmanuel plans and organizes seminars and conferences for dialogues that are designed to meet the needs of a range of target groups within Muslim and Christian communities. Discussion is now beginning about whether to develop such programmes for Christians and members of Ghana’s traditional (or spiritualist) faith.
Christian-Muslim marriages are the focus of a PCG study that is currently underway. Mixed faith marriages are common in the north. The church is doing research into how people in the region perceive them. The objective is to document experiences of mixed faith marriages on which to base a manual for clergy who must counsel young couples who are considering mixed faith marriage as well as those who are already married and encountering difficulties.
Training young people to be peacemakers is the other key component of Emmanuel’s work. He cites the example of a project supported by EMS to train youth in the north in peaceful conflict resolution in the period prior to Ghana’s December 2012 elections. There is also a growing network of Peace Clubs in parishes and church-run schools. Club members are trained to promote a “culture of peace” in their schools and neighbourhoods. The programme is set to expand into the state-funded school system.
Junior and senior secondary school students who join Peace Clubs are offered lectures and essays on the theme of “peace” and learning through role-playing. A professor from the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana, Legon has been asked to help prepare dramas for the programme with a message of peace.
Emmanuel’s director, Saa, sees young people as “the foot soldiers who are trying to prevent efforts to mobilize for violence.” Saa believes they are the ones to convince their peers that there is a better way to resolve conflict than through violence. If young people in Ghana’s north do not take that message to heart, he says: “Young people will be the biggest losers. They have their whole future before them. If they destroy their future, they won’t find jobs. So it is in their interest to have a stable country. When the country is peaceful there will be development and jobs,” he explains.