So here is the story in brief...The Rev. Thomas Thompson was an SPG missionary and he brought the Anglican Church to the Gold Coast during the slave trade era. He essentially was a colonialist (SPG even had been given several plantations that profited from the slave trade). It is REALLY a wild story. So Thompson decides to take three eleven year old boys back with him to England to learn to be priests and then they could be sent back to spread Anglicanism throughout the area of Cape Coast. Two of the boys died in transit the third was Philip. He grew up in England, lost his tribal tongue and traditions and then married a white woman. He completed his studies in England and he returned to the Gold Coast to start the church. He was given a small room at the "slave" castle and a room from which to do services. Just below the room were three dungeons housing over 1,000 men for shipping to the Caribbean and United States. Philip had an awful time and really couldn't get much started; no one today is surprised. Beyond the slave trade issues, Philip's ministry was hampered by bad luck and a lack of funding. Even his wife died in childbirth. Philip did not give up though and did begin a small school. Thompson (who had theologically defended slavery) and Quaque (who tried to do mission to a native population from a slave castle) are complicated figures in the least.
What was interesting is that as I would speak to our new friends here and I would say these two men are very complex figures in the history of this country and our own! I would ask, how do you deal with the problems that flow through their narrative? The answer was always the same. Without Thompson there is no Quaque to bring the Anglican Church here, without them we might not be here.
God has a way of redeeming the world. God has a way of redeeming us.
Philip remains highly regarded for being the first African ordained in the Anglican Church and the first African missionary.
The service was anything but small! There were a lot of people there. There were tons of school children for this is a holiday after they go to church.
We had a beautiful service. I will upload my sermon; with translation. And, some videos. Everyone was taking videos of the service...including the seminarians, so I joined in during the offertory.
When the service was over the Bishop led us out of the Cathedral and across the street to the slave castle where we laid a wreath at the tomb of Philip Quaque who is buried in the middle of the Cape Coast Castle compound. It was truly powerful. As I laid the wreath on the tomb I was so mindful of our own history in Texas with the slave trade and our part in participating in an abomination that is difficult to fathom and describe.
I wasn't allowed to take pictures. I will say that it was powerful and moving and sad. One part of the museum was where we walked into a room that was built like a ship and learned about how the africans were crammed into the ship.