The Conference of The Methodist Church in Ghana came into being in July, 1961. Formerly it had been an Overseas District of British Methodism. The pioneer Methodist missionary, Joseph Dunwell, landed at Cape Coast on January 1, 1835, and began work among the Mfantse-speaking peoples of the Coast, some of whom were already Christians. In the first eight years of the church’s life, 11 out of 21 missionaries who worked in the then Gold Coast died. Thomas Birch Freeman, who arrived in the Gold Coast in 1838, was the great pioneer of missionary expansion. Between 1838 and 1857 he carried Methodism from the Mfantse coast land to Badagry and Abeokuta in Niberia, and to Kumasi in the Asante hinterland in the Gold Coast. He died in Accra in 1890.
Methodist evangelization of Northern Ghana began in 1910. After a long period of conflict with the colonial government, missionary work was finally established in 1955, the late Rev. Paul Adu being the first indigenous missionary to Northern Ghana. Thirty-six years later, on November 10, 1991, the Northern Ghana District now Diocese was inaugurated at Tamale. Missionary work there includes agriculture and rural health services made possible by mobile clinic units.
Currently the connexion comprises 167 circuits in thirteen dioceses. The Methodist community continues to grow numerically. Between 1996 and the end of 1997, it increased by 30,057 bringing the total numerical strength to about 1.5m. Some of these members worship in interdenominational churches. There are 720 ministers (36 of whom are women), 3 full-time catechists, 112 lay evangelists and missionaries, 26,725 voluntary lay preachers and class leaders with pastoral responsibilities.
The church continues to be involved in educational work made up of 16 second cycle institutions (9,299 students), three mixed training colleges (1,734) and two specialist schools: Mmofraturo in Kumasi (for girls) and the school for the blind at Wa, Northern Ghana. Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, Accra, an ecumenical seminary, continues to train ministers for Ghana Christian Council member churches.
There are two lay training centers in Kumase: the Women’s Training Center and Freeman Centre for Leadership Development. The small medical work started at the Wenchi Hospital in 1951 has expanded with the establishment of three clinics at Bamianko (Gwira), Amakom (Lake Bosomtwe), and Mo-Dega; a Nutrition Rehabilitation Center at Lawra, rural clinics in Asante, sponsored by the Kumasi Diocese Methodist Medical Association, and a Faith Healing Hospital at Ankaase in the Kumasi Diocese.
The church is actively engaged in the life of the nation. Ministers are seconded to schools, colleges, the armed forces, police, prisons, hospitals as chaplains, and to universities as lecturers/chaplains and district assemblies as members. There are a number of agricultural projects, fruitful interactions between the church and state on political issues and social problems such as HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. There is concrete cooperation between Ghana Methodism and the other member churches of the Christian Council of Ghana.