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Revd. Norman Grigg

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The 160 th Gambia District Synod in Bakau was of historic significance [31 st Jan. – 3 rd February 2000]. Under a special Autonomy Agenda item, the mandated Autonomy Steering Committee 1999(ASCOM’99) unfurled the blueprint of future Conference of The Methodist Church – The Gambia (MCTG). The presentations made were professional, the questions posed were penetrating, and the debate was exhilarating. At a specially convened Autonomy Session, later the same year, Synod unanimously adopted the ASCOM99 Report. Three years later (July 2003), a Special Session of the 163 rd Gambia District Synod ratified the 1 st Draft of Constitution and Standing Orders of Conference at Wesley Church.

During the Autonomy Transition period [2000-2009], every Chairman & General Superintendent appointed was tasked to implement, carefully, the critical Autonomy related resolutions of the various Synods. But who were these Shepherds tasked with such onerous responsibilities? Gera Fieren, the wife of The Reverend Cornelius Fieren – a Mission-Partner from the Reformed Church of the Netherlands (2000-2006), had the privileged opportunity to have worked with all three. Gera’s comparative contrasting professional resume of each was that:

The Rev’d Titus Pratt, Prof. Stephens and the Rev. Norman Grigg, three totally different workers in God’s vineyard. After Titus Pratt, the exotic and charismatic Ghanaian, Peter Stephens, the high-church scholar and ascetic, now Grigg, a relaxed and amicable pastor. What they have in common, is that they are all three devout Methodists.

At the 169 th and final District Synod of The Methodist Mission –The Gambia, the Chairman & General Superintendent, The Reverend Norman A. Grigg, selected as his theme: ‘Till now the Lord has helped us’ [1 Samuel 7:12c]. What an appropriate way of expressing gratitude to God for 188 years of eventful missionary services of blood, sweat and tears? In his exegetical treatment of the text, he explained that:

God had brought them to this point in history and the Ebenezer Stone represented a fresh beginning, a change of course for God’s people. It also said something important about God – His mercies are everlasting and His covenant is forever.

Grigg, in these lines of his report, had set the stage for right thinking. As the elected 1 st President-Designate of Foundation Conference of The Methodist Church The Gambia, Grigg implored each and together, to face the future with Christian confidence, regardless of the tests and trials that lay in wait for all.

The date of the Foundation Conference was set for 24 th May 2009, that historic 271 st Birthday of Methodism.

Why Autonomy?

Contrary to popular opinion held hitherto, the debate on autonomy has revealed that autonomy goes well beyond earthly concepts of independence.

In the local ecclesiastical level, there is indeed consensus that autonomy should be interpreted as a claim by the proposed Conference of Methodist Church The Gambia (MCTG) to take full authority and responsibility for its future action and government. A regime not too dissimilar from the habits of the New Testament Churches.

In the universal ecclesiastical domain, however, the autonomy of the proposed Conference of Methodist Church The Gambia (MCTG), must also be viewed as part of The Almighty God’s unending process of decentralization of the Kingdom of God on Earth. Consequently, we pray, by the grace of God in Christ, that this Foundation Conference of The Methodist Church The Gambia shall represent that spiritual milestone, signifying an age of maturity, and a transition to plant-life, of that particular seed of the Tree of Life which was broadcasted to our locality almost two centuries ago.

Endurance brings God’s approval, and His approval creates hope.

This Hope does not disappoint us,

for God has poured out his love into our hearts

by means of the Holy Spirit, who was God’s gift to us. [Romans 4:4, NIV]

Hannah Kilham has been credited with the production of two text books which were later tested in The Gambia.

These include: First Lessons in Jaloof (1820) a Wollof primer, and African Lessons (1832), Martha T. Frederiks,191.

Lamin Sanneh, 66.

Compare with trail-blazers: (a) Henry Brunton’s Susu Grammar& Catechism (1801), See Lamin Sanneh, 61. (b) the Gustavus Nylander’s Bulom Grammar and Vocabulary (1818) and a Bulom translation of the Gospel of Matthew. See Lamin Sanneh, 61. (c) Richard Marshall ‘compiled a Wolof vocabulary of 2000 words and translated the Conference Catechism and parts of the Gospel of John in Wolof.’ See Martha T. Frederiks, 200. (d) Robert MacBrair’s Mandinka & Fula Grammar & Vocabulary and a Mandinka translation of the Gospel of Matthew (1835-36). See Martha T. Frederiks, 202, and (e) the initial Ga-Adangbe and Twi translation activities of the Basel Missionary Society in Accra and Akropong of the Gold Coast during the later period (1857 to 1881). See J. Kofi Agbeti, West African Church History: Church Missions and Church Foundations: 1482-1919 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1986),16

Lamin Sanneh, 141. Note that Frederiks has stated that, instead, it was Thomas Dove and the liberated Goree Wollof stone- mason Pierre Sallah who were put in-charge of the Church site. Martha T. Frederiks, The probable fact is that the work at the Church site and the Village site were under common supervision.

Lamin Sanneh, 141.

Martha T. Frederiks, 194-204.

Lamin Sanneh, 140 .

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