New archbishop for Ghana

899

The Bishop of Asante-Mampong, the Rt. Rev. Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith, has been elected archbishop of the Anglican Church of Ghana within the Church of the Province of West Africa.

Meeting on 15 Jan 2021 at the Cathedral of St Cyprian the Martyr, a special meeting of the internal province of Ghana synod gathered to choose a successor to the Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo, Bishop of Kumasi and metropolitan archbishop of Ghana.

Each of the eleven dioceses of Ghana sent an episcopal, clergy and lay delegate to the meeting to choose between the candidates, Dr. Ben-Smith, and the Rt. Rev. Daniel Torto, Bishop of Accra.

Anglican News Ghana reports Dr. Ben-Smith narrowly beat Dr. Torto by a vote of 18 to 15.  The office of metropolitan archbishop of Ghana is not a time-limited term. Dr. Ben-Smith will hold the post until he retires or leaves office.

On 22 May 2011, the West African bishops appointed Dr. Ben-Smith suffragan bishop for the Diocese of Kumasi. When the diocese of Asante-Mapong was formed in 2014 he was elected its first bishop, overseeing 90 congregations in the Mapong and Kumawu regions.  Dr. Ben-Smith earned a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in 2009, and an M.Phil from the University of Cardiff, as well as a Licentiate in Theology from St Nicholas Seminary in the Cape Coast. At the time of his appointment to the episcopate, Dr. Ben-Smith was vice-rector of the seminary and taught courses in Comparative Religion and the Philosophy of Religion.

The Church of the Province of West Africa comprises two provinces: Ghana with eleven dioceses: Accra, Asante-Mampong, Cape Coast,  Dunkwa-on-Offin, Ho, Koforidua, Kumasi, Sekondi, Sunyani, Tamale, and Wiawso; and West Africa with six dioceses: Bo, Cameroon, Freetown, The Gambia, Guinea, and Liberia.  Each internal province electes an archbishop, and from the archbishops a primate is elected for the province. The current primate is the Most Rev. Jonathan Hart, Bishop of Liberia.

One of the founding GAFCON provinces under the leadership of its then archbishop, the Most Rev. Justice Akrofi of Accra, West Africa has pulled back from active involvement in the global renewal movement. While the doctrine and discipline of the West African church is within the GAFCON camp, several bishops have close relationships with English and American dioceses and have resisted the calls by some of the GAFCON leaders to walk apart from the progressive provinces of the Communion.

Dr. Ben-Smith has been an active participant in the bishops-in-dialogue program run by the Anglican Church of Canada, that seeks to link Canadian, American and English bishops to sympathetic bishops in the developing world.