One of the “Clifford boys” who once presided over the administration of the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA)Church in Ghana is John Kenneth Amoah of Kofiase, Asante, affectionately dubbed “Capital J.K.” and “Kwaaku Amoah.” He was the second of the “boys” to be a leader in Ghana Adventism for some 16 years from 1959 to 1975. This was the “Kofiase Age” in the church’s history in Ghana for both Amoah and his immediate predecessor, C. B. Mensah were from Kofiase in Asante.
Kwaaku Amoah was noted for his native wisdom as a successful president of the Ghana Mission of SDA more than for anything else. He had learned a lot from his illustrious missionary mentor, Jesse Clifford, and, like him, made up for what he lacked in high worldly education with a spirit of Christian commitment to the growth and progress of Ghana Seventh-Day Adventism. This partly explains his promotion to the mission presidency of the SDA church in Ghana in 1965.
Capital J.K. had never served at the Kumase headquarters of the SDA Church in Ghana before he assumed leadership there. That was unique of him and it reveals much about his character. The highest level in the Adventist hierarchical structure Amoah reached before becoming president of the mission was only a district leadership. Although he started with no former experience at the headquarters he successfully led the SDA Church for a whole decade.
One of J. K. Amoah’s strengths during his presidency of the Ghana SDA Church was his wisdom in handling church matters. His counsel was highly valued among workers and laymen alike. He effectively used native wisdom to calm people down when they were on high tension regarding church issues and personal and family matters. A colleague minister who worked in a similar fashion in this area of human relations was Amos K. Amofah, another of the Clifford luminaries. Many young ministers during the Amoah days became successful workers partly because of the fatherly counsel and encouragement they constantly received from him. They saw him as a kind leader with whom they could work for the progress of the church and God’s cause in Ghana. Today many Ghanaian church leaders and pastors remember J. K. Amoah as the elder who helped them to succeed. They credit him particularly with encouraging and helping them in their pursuit of higher education both at home and abroad. Due to his influence, many church committees and officers provided support for many Adventist young people to pursue high levels of education so they could in the future be great assets for Adventism as both laypersons and workers. People like Matthew A. Bediako, currently the executive secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, and Hermann V. A. Kuma, pastor of the First Ghana SDA Church in New York City, speak highly of Capital J.K. as a worthy mentor and leader of God’s people.
One of Amoah’s greatest milestones was to help the church move up from mission to conference status in the world SDA Church system. It was something like gaining political autonomy or independence in the religious world, and the Ghana Mission was the first in Real Africa (the so called “Black Africa”) to achieve this status on Christmas Day 1970. In addition, he made great strides in education, financial growth, and evangelistic gains for the church during his decade of leadership.
Another of Amoah’s remarkable characteristics was the humility with which he took up positions as a chaplain and local church pastor after his retirement, taking orders from his former “boys.” After his highly respected position as president at the Kumase headquarters, he became a simple chaplain at Asaaman SDA Clinic and later the humble pastor of his hometown church at Kofiase. He served in that position until his death on June 6th, 2000.
In the annals of Ghana Seventh-Day Adventism, J. K. Amoah can safely be described as “a second Clifford” who had a positive impact on workers and believers in his own humble way. He was a shining example of a wise and fatherly leader.
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.