Last year when we left Ghana it was with the hope of returning soon if we could figure it out (we didn’t). This time I came wondering if I would still love it like before, still want to return, or wonder why did we love it so? Its not so strange. Suzanne and I fell in love after she moved back to Connecticut. We met in Austin in the fall of 2003 during her “Junior year abroad” at The University of Texas. In those days were just friends but then but she went back to Connecticut College for her senior year, and that’s when we fell in love. A year later and now graduated, she moves back to Austin, and we decide to see how it we like living in the same town, and dating proper and to see where that led. It was a shared sense of caution to not to be
moved into commitment by the sheer momentum of the events. It was that same caution that guided our return to Ghana.
Life in the Mozley household was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Each day was a celebration of relationships, of different people stopping by, stopping in, greeting us, coming over to dinner, showing up for breakfast. The sheer volume of people coming through the house was dizzying, and the graciousness that each was received, amazing.
Each morning started for me at 6:30am with coffee and conversation with Michael. He would be coming back from the gym having worked out with our new friend Gary (aka Soldier Man). Michael would be doing his Bible study, I’d be working on either a sermon for Asbury Dunwell, or slogging through the books for seminary (which was starting the day after I returned), and we would talk about life, and where we felt God’s calling, or seen God moving.
I had enrolled in a doctor of ministry program at Austin Seminary where I graduated 10 years ago with a M. Div. It was something I’ve wanted to do for years, but the timing was illusive. Since I am currently underemployed and the kids are mostly out of the house, this seemed like the perfect time to go. The books I was assigned to read were three dissertations, and one book on Roman/US imperialism. Officially, the course is called “The Bible and the Practice of Ministry,” but its reading list was a collection of feminist, queer (the book’s term for it), and imperialist readings of Paul’s letters that had as much to do with the practice of ministry as WMD had to do with Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Now imagine reading them in the Ghanaian context. Ghana is a place where faith guides people’s lives, where church is more than just a place to go, but a community to live out life from.
In February, I had had a wonderful experience at Austin Seminary’s MidWinter Lectures, where two of the three invited speakers were of national acclaim. I saw that it was indeed a new day at Austin Seminary. Originally, I hadn’t thought of returning to this place that has so resisted the changes that were modernizing the church, but seeing how much it had changed, I thought, “I want to go to this seminary.”
Each morning at the Mozley’s I sat outside, drinking wonderful coffee, watching the animals flock to Michael, and working on my sermon was good day. For the sermon, I wrote it old style; not using a computer, or the internet, or any books that might shape the message. Bishop Violet Fisher had had a profound effect on me when she came to Wellspring, and after her first sermon, wrote the next two from her experience of the church. They were right on target. I wanted to try the same thing, that and to greet this new land that Asbury Dunwell Church was buying, and be open to what it had to say to the church.
ASBURY DUNWELL CHURCH
[Asbury Dunwell Church Future Site, with Phillip, the Administrative Assistant]
For many years the congregation of Asbury Dunwell Church has met in a chapel on the Methodist Church headquarters, though, officially, it is not a church of the Methodist Church of Ghana, though it is the tradition that the Methodist Bishop appoints one of his pastors to the church. They know that this relationship can not last forever, and especially as the chapel is 110% full on most Sundays. Walking around this raw land, it was hard not to get excited about its possibilities.
It will be quite a change for the church, which has been located in central Accra, to move East of the city to a yet undeveloped area, though the city is growing in that direction.
Having been the pastor of a church that built a 1.2 million dollar multi-purpose center as its first building, it is one thing I swore I would never do again. But walking around that land, and then preaching in that church on Sunday, I felt those familiar yearnings, like wouldn’t this be fun? Maybe its akin to a mother in the midst of childbirth, swearing off more children.
While we were gone, three of our friends had babies, so we went to greet these beautiful babies:
[Steve & Steven, Eric & B’s son]
[Suzanne and TK, Adzo & Nii’s son]
[TK and Ingrid, Matt and Astrid’s daughter]