Church of the Province of West Africa

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Church of the Province of West Africa
PrimateDaniel Sarfo
TerritoryCameroon, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone
Membersc. 1,000,000

The Church of the Province of West Africa is a province of the Anglican Communion, covering 17 dioceses in eight countries of West Africa, specifically in Cameroon, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Ghana is the country with most dioceses, now numbering 11.


Missionary work began in Ghana in 1752. The Church of the Province of West Africa was established in 1951 by the bishops of five West African dioceses (Accra, Lagos, Niger, Sierra Leone and the Diocese of Gambia and Guinea) with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1977 they were joined by the Diocese of Liberia. In February 1979, the new Church of Nigeria was inaugurated as a separate province. In 1981 Sierra Leone was divided into the Diocese of Freetown and the new missionary Diocese of Bo and four new Ghanaian dioceses of Cape Coast, Koforidua, Sekondi and Sunyani/Tamale were formed. In 1985 the Gambia and Guinea diocese was partitioned into English-speaking Gambia and French-speaking Guinea. The Diocese of Asante Mampong, previously a suffragan see to Kumasi, was inaugurated in November 2014.[1]

The final total of 17 represents 11 dioceses in Ghana and 6 in the other seven nations. For this reason actions are in hand to move towards making Ghana a separate province. The country already has the status of an "internal province", the archbishop of which is currently (2015) the Primate of the whole Province of West Africa.[2]

Today, the church has to survive in areas of civil unrest where Christians remain a small minority.

List of archbishops


Today, there are over one million Anglicans out of an estimated population of 35 million.


Holy Trinity Cathedral in Accra, Ghana.

The polity of the Church of the Province of West Africa is episcopal church governance, which is the same as other Anglican churches. Geographical parishes are organized into dioceses, and since 2012 the dioceses have been grouped into internal provinces.[4] There are 2 internal provinces (each led by a metropolitan archbishop) consisting of 17 dioceses (each led by a diocesan bishop).

Dioceses and bishops[edit]

Internal Province of West Africa
Internal Province of Ghana

Worship and liturgy[edit]

The Church of the Province of West Africa embraces three orders of ministry: deacon, priest, and bishop. A local variant of the Book of Common Prayer is used, as well as the Church of England Alternative Service Book which is used in the Diocese of Tamale on account of its more accessible use of modern English.

Doctrine and practice[edit]

The center of the Church of the Province of West Africa's teaching is the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The basic teachings of the church, or catechism, includes:

The threefold sources of authority in Anglicanism are scripture, tradition, and reason. These three sources uphold and critique each other in a dynamic way. This balance of scripture, tradition and reason is traced to the work of Richard Hooker, a sixteenth-century apologist. In Hooker's model, scripture is the primary means of arriving at doctrine and things stated plainly in scripture are accepted as true. Issues that are ambiguous are determined by tradition, which is checked by reason.[5]

Ordination of women[edit]

At its 20th Provincial Synod in 2000, the Province approved in principal the ordination of women to the priesthood.[6] There is currently a variety of practice from diocese to diocese, with some remaining closed to the ordination of women as priests, and others welcoming the practice. The province does not permit the ordination of women to the episcopate.

Ecumenical relations[edit]

Like many other Anglican churches, the Church of the Province of West Africa is a member of the ecumenical World Council of Churches.[7]

Anglican realignment[edit]

The Church of the Province of West Africa was one of the first Anglican provinces to break communion with the Episcopal Church of the United States over the question of allowing the blessing of same-sex unions and non-celibate homosexual clergy. The Episcopal Diocese of Liberia continues, nevertheless, in full communion. The Church of the Province of West Africa has been active in the Anglican realignment as a member of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the Global South. Archbishop Solomon Tilewa Johnson attended Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON II), that took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 21 to 26 October 2013.[8] Unlike his predecessors current Archbishop Daniel Sarfo is a supporter of "reconciliation" between the conservative and liberal provinces of the Anglican Communion, particularly the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada, and was already involved in several meetings between African and North American bishops.[9] He still was one of the 11 Primates that attended the 3rd Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America, in June 2017.[10] He also attended the Global South meeting, in 8-9 September 2017, in Cairo, Egypt, and was one of the signants of their communiqué, with nine other Anglican Primates, including Foley Beach, from the Anglican Church in North America.[11]

The province was represented at GAFCON III, held in Jerusalem, on 17-22 June 2018, by a 13 members delegation, coming from Ghana, Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.[12]


  1. ^ "A new diocese for West Africa". Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  2. ^ Buchanan, Colin. Historical Dictionary of Anglicanism. p. 601.
  3. ^ "Daniel Sarfo becomes primate of West Africa". Episcopal News Service. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  4. ^ ACNS report of the creation of internal metropolitical provinces.
  5. ^ "Listening in Scripture foundation for listening". Archived from the original on 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2014-06-05. Detail on how scripture, tradition, and reason work to "uphold and critique each other in a dynamic way".
  6. ^ Church of England Newspaper Retrieved 11 March 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Church of the Province of West Africa". World Council of Churches. 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-01-25. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  8. ^ "Condolences on the death of Archbishop Johnson of West Africa". Sydney: Anglican Church League. 2014-01-24. Archived from the original on 2014-01-26. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  9. ^ Bishop describes African-Canadian dialogue as a model for whole Communion, Anglican Ink, 23 June 2017
  10. ^ WHEATON, IL: Thirty Global Anglican Leaders Stand in Solidarity with Anglican Church in North America, Virtue Online, 28 June 2017
  11. ^ Global South Primates' Communiqué, Global South Anglican, 11 September 2017
  12. ^ GAFCON III largest pan-Anglican gathering since Toronto Congress of 1963, Anglican Ink, 20 June 2018

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]