Mensah, Charles Bennett
Charles Bennett Mensah (popularly known in SDA circles in Ghana as "C.B.") was born in 1918 at Kofiase, Asante, Ghana to Opanin Kwaame Baa and Madam Ama Serwaa, both of Kofiase. He was given the name Kwaaku Mensah. At six, he began his primary education at the SDA primary school there at Kofiase in 1924. He subsequently transferred to Agona-Asante SDA middle school in the late twenties and completed his standard seven in 1932. His colleague minister and fellow townsman, John Kenneth Amoah, was always one year ahead of him in their elementary education, Amoah finishing standard seven also at Agona in 1931.
From Agona, C.B. went to pursue his studies at the SDA Evangelistic Training School at Bekwae, Asante under the leadership of Jesse Clifford, the missionary president of what was then called the Ghana Mission of Seventh-Day Adventists. But the dire need for workers in the SDA church in Ghana interrupted his education. In 1933, after only six months at the school at Bekwae, Clifford sent C.B. to Antoa, Asante to be a teacher-evangelist in the SDA primary school there, replacing Daniel K. Ofori of Ntonso, Asante. This was C.B.'s official entry into the SDA work system, and for the subsequent 53 years he served his God and his church wholeheartedly and loyally until his retirement from the SDA work and gospel ministry in 1986.
C.B. Mensah advanced the cause of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in many interesting and eventful ways. In Ghana SDA church history, C.B. stands out as perhaps the youngest on record to have been employed as a teacher-evangelist. He was only about fifteen when he embarked upon his journey as an SDA church worker. He also was married young, at the age of 17, to an SDA girl named Ama (or Christiana) Serwaa, who became his wife in 1935. God blessed the Mensahs with eight children, five girls and three boys. All of these, except Ruth who died in 1972 at the tender age of 19, are still alive. The Mensahs currently have 23 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
1935 was a year of double blessings for C.B. Besides getting married, he also became a "born again" Christian together with his wife Ama, when both were formally baptized into the SDA Church fellowship by Jesse Clifford.
After working at Antoa and its surroundings for five years, C.B. was transferred to Mampon, the second major metropolis in Asante, as the first SDA resident evangelist. He stayed there for eleven years and trained another evangelist and later fellow minister of the church, Joseph S. Dwumoh, during that time. At Mampon, C.B. was in charge of churches scattered in three regions of modern Ghana: Asante, Bono-Ahafo, and Volta. While there, he was officially ordained into the Adventist gospel ministry at Agona in July 1945, the first Asante and third Ghanaian (after J. K. Garbrah in 1921 and S. B. Essien in 1935) in SDA history. In 1949 C.B. was transferred to Agona as the district leader or pastor, his first major post in the SDA system. This was part of the Africanization movement led by Jesse Gibson in the SDA church in Ghana.
In 1952 C.B. became Associate President of the SDA Church in Ghana and moved to its headquarters at Kwaadaso, Kumase. Seven years later, in 1959, Charles Bennett Mensah made history by becoming the first Ghanaian President of the SDA Church in Ghana. The wind of independent Ghana was blowing.
In 1956, while in Kumase C.B. took time off for further studies at the SDA Newbold College, United Kingdom. He returned to Newbold in 1964 for yet more studies at the Andrews University Theological Seminary Extension School. From the Kumase Mission headquarters C.B. first became a departmental director at the Accra West African Union Mission of SDA headquarters in 1965 and later the Union Secretary in 1972 until his official retirement in 1986.
Over the years, C.B. Mensah attended many church-related conferences and visited many countries as well. For instance, he was a delegate to the General Conference of SDA Sessions in 1954, 1975, 1980, and 1985 and visited countries like Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Austria, the United States, and others in Africa, all on SDA church business.
In addition to the many souls he won for Christ and baptized into the SDA Church over the years of his ministry, C.B. Mensah was also instrumental in establishing two training colleges for the church at Asokore - Koforidua and Agona during his mission presidency in 1962 and 1963 respectively. The latter one subsequently became a secondary or high school. C.B. and his wife Christiana have nurtured one of their sons, Peter Osei Mensah, so that he could take on his father's work where the latter left off. Peter is now the President of the Union of which his father used to be secretary.
C.B., a pastor and an administrator of distinction in Ghana SDA history, now lives in retirement in Kumase, Ghana. His wife Christiana passed away in Kumase on August 3rd, 2001.
K. Owusu-Mensa, Ghana Seventh-Day Adventism: A History, (Accra: The Advent Press, forthcoming).
--------, Saturday God and Adventism in Ghana (New York: Peter Lang Publishers, 1993).
This article, received in 2001, was researched and written by Dr. Kofi Owusu-Mensa, Professor of History and DACB Liaison Coordinator at Valley View University, Oyibi, a DACB Participating Institution in Accra, Ghana.