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Finding a New Home for Faith

In his home country, Stephen Nkansah was an evangelist. When he left Ghana for the United States, he continued to be an evangelist, of sorts. Since no worship group spoke his native Twi dialect, he formed his own.

They had no place to meet, so Nkansah asked the Rev. Henry Brinton, former pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church, if the group could have their own services at his church. Brinton agreed, and word spread. The group started to grow.

The problem was that they grew too much, too fast. As the group became larger and larger, they realized that there was only one solution: They needed to start their own church. There were a few issues, though. They needed a minister, they needed a charter and they needed a building.

They solved the first problem when Nkansah went to theological seminary in Richmond and was ordained. They are still looking for a place to build their church. In the meantime, they are holding services at Mount Eagle Elementary School.

A few months ago they filed papers and this past weekend, held a special chartering service for the new Ebenezer Presbyterian Church at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church.

CHOIRS IN garb representing their native land filled the church. Children came dressed in their finest. The congregation danced, they sang, they laughed and they cried.

The service was held at Mount Vernon Presbyterian because it’s the largest of the three area Presbyterian churches. Representatives of the Ebenezer congregation asked the Rev. Bill Teng, minister of Heritage Presbyterian Church, to moderate – he is the vice-moderator of the National Capital Presbytery. Teng announced the official chartering of Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, then he ordained and installed the church’s first group of elders.

“It took a long time in the making. Stephen was installed as their pastor, before that he served as the associate pastor at Calvary Presbyterian Church. It’s about time for them to be on their own,” said Teng. “It’s amazing that over 700 people come to worship services. It’s incredible, the sheer numbers.”

Peggy Severson, owner of ReCreations Decorative Consignments, is one of their charter members. “It was such a victory,” she said. “He was an evangelist in Ghana, and he became a missionary here, gathering people from Ghana who didn’t have a worship service in their dialect. Everybody was jubilant for them. You’re not going to find a group of people more cemented in their faith.”