Source: E. Kingsley Larbi
Apostle Peter Newman Anim, formerly known as Kwaku Anim Mensah (also known as Kwaku Manasseh) was born on 4 February 1890 to Mr. Simon Appiagyei and Madam Hannah Lartebea of Boso in the Volta Region of Ghana. He was the third of six children and of the six, he lived the longest. He attended the Basel Mission school at Boso from Class 1 to Standard 3. He then continued at Anum Basel Mission from Standard 4 to Standard 7, finishing in 1908. In 1911 he joined his brother at Amonokrom (Akuapem) and assisted him in his carpentry workshop. Later in the same year he left this town for Pakro to work with the Basel Mission Factory as a weighing clerk. He left this job, however in 1912 due to ill health.
Later on in 1914 he became a brick layer. He left this job and went to Pakro again. He finally left for Boso, his home town, in 1916, and he was married to Madam Dora Sakyibea that same year. Their marriage was blessed with four daughters, three of whom died in rapid succession during their infancy. The wife died in 1920 after a short illness, and the remaining daughter died not long afterwards. He married Madam Esther Osimpo and out of that marriage was born Moses Appiah Anim, the only son and the only surviving child of Anim. Madam Esther Anim also died in 1967.
In Search of Salvation
In 1917 Anim took an interest in a religious periodical, The Sword of the Spirit, which was in circulation in the country. This magazine was edited by Pastor A. Clark, founder of the Faith Tabernacle ministry, Philadelphia. The Faith Tabernacle was not a Pentecostal organisation but it had strong emphasis on faith healing and holiness. This kind of emphasis seemed entirely different from anything Anim’s Presbyterian upbringing had taught him.
He found the teachings in this magazine “a real blessing” because, as he put it, “though I had intellectually believed the Bible before, I never had the truth presented in a more realistic way….”  One of the teachings of the Faith Tabernacle of Philadelphia was its emphasis on “prevailing prayer.” In 1920, following the death of his wife, he was converted “into the faith.” Anim had been suffering from chronic stomach trouble his whole life. In 1921 he also developed guinea worm disease. He then decided to put into practice Clark’s teachings on healing. To his delight he was simultaneously healed from the worm attack as well as his chronic stomach disease.
The Birth of Anim’s Faith Tabernacle Church
The humdrum of the traditions of the Presbyterian Church could not assuage the stirrings of his heart. He, therefore, resigned from the Boso Presbyterian Church after his divine healing in 1921. He subsequently went and settled at Asamankese, in the Eastern Province.
Many people joined Anim’s group through healing. After the healing of the first sick person who went to Anim’s group, the news of his recovery spread, and so several sick people were brought to the group for healing. Testimonies about these healings spread throughout the regions and several people believed their message. Anim, at this point, having been convinced of the truth of the teachings of Clark, adopted the name Faith Tabernacle for his organisation in 1922.
To reinforce the power base of the group, on 15 October 1922, a revival service was held in the house of one Elder Kwabena Asare and several converts were won. Anim and Armah, a devotee of Faith Tabernacle, Nsawam, then decided to work together and the two of them agreed to use the name Faith Tabernacle for their organisation.
There was no personal contact between Pastor Clark and Anim. Every contact was through correspondence only. In October 1923 Anim was issued a certificate of ordination by Pastor Clark “assigning him to the service of God and the right to baptise and appoint workers.” It was about the same time that Odubanjo and other Faith Tabernacle leaders in Nigeria were also consecrated to the ministry by Clark. Theirs was also done through correspondence.
For us to appreciate the theological influences of Pastor Clark’s movement on Anim’s group, we state below the fundamental teachings of Clark:
Contrast between the wickedness of this world and the godly community of the sect;
Wrongfulness of litigation;
Non-participation in national celebrations;
Persecution as a mark of sanctity;
Belief in the imminence of the Millennium;
A distaste for acquiring property because of the imminence of the Second Advent;
Glossolalic experiences regarded as satanic;
Non use of medicine for healing.
Peel also mentions that Clark’s Faith Tabernacle religion was unemotional, and the main importance of the Holy Spirit was that He had inspired the authors of the Bible thereby ensuring its infallibility. Clark taught that visions were not useful. If one needs guidance, there was first the Holy Bible, the use of “sanctified common sense,” then Providence. Visions and dreams could thereafter be considered after these processes. Out of all the above teachings of Clark, the one that seemed to have greatly influenced the faith and practice of Anim and his movement was the one dealing with healing. The theological block turned out to be the major stumbling block of Anim’s movement.
The healing and evangelistic activities of Anim attracted the attention of the then traditional chief of Asamankese, Nana Kwaku Amoah. Consequently, he offered them a parcel of land upon which they constructed their first new church building. By 1923 Anim’s movement had seen considerable growth. Pastors and elders were therefore ordained to assist him in 1924. Anim tells us “the truth had spread like fire. Churches were founded in Akwapim, Kwahu, Ashanti, Coaltar, Asuokyene, Pampanso, Teshie, Nungua, Keta, Anlo, Togoland and other places with God’s blessing.”
Another event which seems to have increased the faith of Anim and also added more people to the group, took place in May 1923 during a revival meeting. After the closing of service, it was reported that several Christians and non-Christians saw what was believed to be the glory of God in the form of a “Pillar of Fire” on the top of the church building.
Baptism by immersion appears to be one of the cardinal teachings of Clark, so he requested Anim take immediate steps to fulfil this requirement. Anim was therefore baptised by immersion on 3 December 1923 by I. L. Bennett (one of Anim’s leaders) from Larteh Akuapem. Anim in turn baptised Bennett the same day. It is not clear what role this sacrament played and the form it took in the Faith Tabernacle. Anim indicates his baptism by immersion was not kindly taken by all and that some under the leadership of one Amoah, “filled with envy” decided to break away because of this act and left for Finte in the mid-Volta area. This group, described by Anim as the “lost sheep,” returned later.
In spite of this overwhelming success of Anim’s evangelistic activities, he did not ordain any worker into the ministry until he had received the certificate of ordination from Clark in August 1923. This was perhaps due to Anim’s theological understanding that, though one’s call into the ministry comes first and foremost from God, this call must be recognised by man. Ordination certificates therefore did not serve as an evidence of spiritual authority, but rather a sign of recognition by man of the one whom God had chosen.
In 1923, the extent of work and the need for workers became clear to Anim. To take care of this need, a meeting was arranged at Winneba in the Central Province, between 28 December 1923 and early January 1924. During this meeting, the church at Winneba was officially opened, pastors were ordained, and elders were anointed for the work. Anim embarked on intensive evangelistic activities which saw the rapid spread of the work. By 1924 churches had been founded in Akwapim district; Coaltar, Asuokyene, Pampanso and Kwahu in the Eastern region; Teshie and Nungua in the now Greater Accra Region; Keta, Anlo (Awuna) in the now Volta Region; Togoland and other places.
Anim in Search of Deeper Religious Experience
Controversy developed among the Faith Tabernacle believers when Clark was excommunicated in 1926 for alleged adultery. Meanwhile, Anim had been receiving copies of another religious magazine published by a Pentecostal movement based in Portland, Oregon, USA, known as “The Apostolic Faith.” After carefully considering the teachings on the Holy Spirit espoused in this magazine, Anim states,
I was faced with the necessity of contending for a deeper faith and greater spiritual power than what my primary religious experience was able to afford, and I began to seek with such trepidation to know more about the Holy Ghost.
Not all of Anim’s pastors accepted the teachings on tongues. He writes,
This doctrine brought about the total exclusion from the Faith Tabernacle and the First Century Gospel in that they were entirely unacquainted with the operations of the Holy Spirit, not only did they not know but would not have anything to do with the teachings as recorded in 1 Cor. 12:1-12, 28-31.
This however did not derail Anim from his course for he “continued to give careful study to the Apostolic Faith teachings.” Anim therefore separated from the Faith Tabernacle in 1930 and adopted the name “The Apostolic Faith” in the same year.
Anim “suffered great opposition at the hands of pagan and religious persecutors” in 1928 but this did not seem to have impaired the progress of his movement. His attempts to share with the pastor-in-charge of the Faith Tabernacle in Accra the teachings on the Holy Spirit of the Apostolic Faith were unsuccessful, for the pastor thought Anim was in error. This however did not derail Anim from his course for they “continued to give careful study to the Apostolic Faith teachings.”
The Glossolalic Phenomenon
A major event which increased the publicity of Anim’s organisation was the outbreak of the phenomenon referred to as “Holy Ghost Outpouring.” Anim’s faith was buttressed when a member of his organisation experienced the phenomenon of Spirit baptism in 1932. Stephen Owiredu, a member of Anim’s group, went into the bush at his Brekumanso village farm which is near Asamankese, to pray for one of his twin babies who was sick. It was during the prayers that he had the extraordinary experience which Pentecostals referred to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When this news got to Anim at Asamankese, he and two brothers, Danso and Abokyi, and two sisters, Comfort Nyakoah, and Oparebea, went to the village. A prayer meeting was held at the village during which two sons of Owiredu and the two sisters who accompanied Anim received the experience.
After this encounter at Brekumanso, Anim and his entourage returned to Asamankese to launch one of their greatest revivals from 31 August to 12 September. Anim recalled that
at these meetings a great number of our Sisters received mighty Baptism of the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues, prophesying together with the manifestation of all other signs of the Apostolic promises, Acts:l-4; 10:44-46 …. Prayer was continued and the Sisters filled with the Holy Ghost were moved to lay hands on the Brothers and some were baptised by the Holy Ghost. Brother Owiredu (junior) and I, received sanctification during the process of the Revival Prayer Meetings. Since that date, continuous tarry [sic] meetings were held and many people received marvelous healing (by Divine power) and God confirmed His Word with signs following. Here we realised in fact our paramount call to be the Apostles of the Faith as recorded in St. Mark 16: 15-20, and from that period the name of the Church had a world wide fame. People who were hungry for the deeper spiritual experience, and desirous of receiving the power from on high… arrived from far and near in search of the Holy Ghost Baptism. As a result of practical demonstrations of the work of the Spirit as in the days of the Apostles and testified by public [sic], many were converted and received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and left [for] their various towns and villages- propagating the good tidings.
At this point in time, Anim is said to have “received sanctification.” Apostle Mika Asamoah, a one time personal assistant to Anim, has indicated that Anim did not experience the Spirit baptism at this time, and that he experienced the phenomenon some years later.
The church enjoyed considerable growth because of this experience of Spirit baptism. Thus the phenomenon in the church attracted some Christian leaders in the other churches. This period was known as the Holy Ghost Dispensation among Anim’s group. Anim indicated that the revival of 1932 spread to Ashanti, Togoland, Anlo (Awuna), Fanti, some towns in the Eastern Region, and many other parts of the country.
Affiliation with The UK Apostolic Church
Anim kept a regular correspondence with the leaders of the Faith Tabernacle congregations in Ghana and in Nigeria. He then learned that Pastor David O. Odubanjo, the leading Nigerian representative of the Faith Tabernacle Church had establish contact with the UK Apostolic Church, and that representatives of the UK body were going to visit Nigeria. This set into motion the process that eventually led to the affiliation of Anim’s organisation with the UK Apostolic Church. It was not until 1931 that Odubanjo succeeded in getting three leading men from the Apostolic Church, Apostles Daniel Powell Williams, William Jones Williams (founders of the organisation) and Prophet Andrew Turnbull, to visit the remnants of the Faith Tabernacle assemblies in Lagos, Abeokuta and Ibadan. The visitors arrived from the missionary headquarters of Bradford at the Accra Port en route to Nigeria on 21 September 1931. Anim and two other members of his church, Godfried Asare and Alex Ankoma, accompanied the visitors on the final stage of their journey to Lagos. They arrived in Nigeria on 23 September 1931 and held a series of revival meetings in certain parts of Nigeria. On 2 June 1932, Pastors Idris Vaughan (Prophet) and George Perfect (Apostle) arrived in Nigeria as the first missionaries of the Apostolics to Nigeria. In 1935 while Perfect was on his way to the UK he spent two weeks with Anim at Asamankese. It was then that Anim’s organisation affiliated with the UK Apostolic Church.
In 1935, against the opposition of Aperade and Pampanso assemblies, Anim succeeded in getting Pastor George Perfect to visit Asamankese on his way to Britain. It is not clear why some members within Anim’s organisation should oppose the invitation of the Bradford missionary. It appears nationalistic tendencies are at work here. He spent a fortnight with the organisation. During his stay Perfect’s ministry made a profound impact on Anim and his followers. For Anim, it is the evidence of the charismata that distinguishes a servant of God. It is for this reason that his movement “prayed diligently” and “sought for deeper spiritual experience.” Perfect stayed for two weeks. Anim and his group fell in love with him and before he returned to England, became affiliated with the Apostolic Church, Bradford in 1935, and adopted the name.
What attracted Anim and his members to Perfect was the demonstration of power. In October 1936, Pastor Vivian Wellings, missionary secretary of the Apostolic Church, visited Anim’s church at Asamankese from Britain. He stayed for a fortnight and his visit was found to be valuable. On his recommendation the missionary headquarters of the Apostolic Church agreed to send a missionary to Ghana.
After the affiliation Anim requested that Bradford send a resident missionary to assist in the work. In 1937 the Bradford missionary headquarters of the Apostolic Church sent James McKeown as their first resident missionary. Before the affiliation with and subsequent arrival of McKeown, Anim’s movement had assumed the following characteristics:
a. Strong emphasis on prayer;
b. Strong belief in divine healing without recourse to any form of medicine, preventive or curative;
c. The experience of glossolalia was also an established phenomenon among the group;
d. Strong evangelistic ethos.
Beckmann incorrectly states that “speaking in tongues was apparently first introduced to an indigenous church by a missionary from Britain’s Apostolic Church who arrived in 1937” and that the introduction of trance and glossolalia into the “indigenous Christian worship is perhaps the most important influence missionaries from Britain and America have had within the spiritual church movement.” The available evidence suggests otherwise. Before Adutwum got this experience within the Assemblies of God in 1942, and McKeown’s arrival in the country in 1937, trance and glossolalia were already being practised by Anim’s group as far back as 1932.
On 2 March 1937, McKeown arrived in Accra by sea and was met by Apostle Peter Anim and some of his leaders. They escorted him by car to Asamankese, the headquarters of Anim’s organisation at the time. His wife, Sophia, joined him in September of the same year.
McKeown fully participated in the construction of the mission house where he would be permanently accommodated. McKeown’s devoted efforts on the project won the admiration of many. He contracted malaria in May 1937, and became very ill. The district commissioner Kibi, accompanied by Anim, took McKeown to the Ridge Hospital, Accra. This created a theological problem for Anim’s followers:
In fact this proved a severe blow to the faith of the church members, who had been taught that, in the case of sickness, believers should trust God only for their healing.
McKeown was discharged from the hospital on the eleventh day after admission. He “resumed the gospel work” at Asamankese. It later became clear that McKeown’s theological perspective on divine healing was different from the position espoused by Anim’s organisation. Anim writes,
As time went on we were convinced that he was deviating from the doctrine of divine healing evidenced by his teachings which were conflicting with those of Divine Healing, that our teaching on Faith/Divine Healing had gone to the extreme.
McKeown, not wanting to jeopardise the faith of the believers, in June 1938,
freely expressed a wish for a change of station and he left Asamankese to Winneba with his wife, two native girls, Abena and Jane, [and] a steward boy. This move was of course against the decision of the Asamankese elders. Notwithstanding, there was no split in the movement at that time.
At McKeown’s request a meeting was arranged at Asamankese towards the end of 1938. At this meeting two main points were on the agenda:
McKeown informed the members of his proposed leave of absence, and wanted to know if the church had any case against him so that it could be settled. He also wanted to know those who wanted to rely on prayer only for healing without the use of any form of medicine.
Apparently the church did not have anything against McKeown since he had endeared himself to them by dint of his disciplined life and hard work, so the most important matter that came up for discussion was divine healing. Though the whole membership affirmed the teachings of the church on the matter, just a day after this meeting some of the members dissented, as McKeown had predicted.
On McKeown’s departure for the UK, he was given a letter addressed to the missionary headquarters of the Apostolic Church, Bradford,
in which we invited the Apostolic Missionary Committee’s attention to the fact of our belief and views regarding Divine healing–our Lord’s work at Calvary as complete saving power for our spirit, souls and body and that we have found God to be true and faithful in our practical experience.
While McKeown was in Britain, Anim received a reply to his letter one from Bradford, stressing the need for unity, referring them to Romans 15: 1-7. During McKeown’s leave, Pastor Kay, who was then in Nigeria, came to Asamankese to relieve McKeown. Due to ill health, Kay later had to be replaced by Sercombe. Later, after the arrival of McKeown from his leave, another letter came from Penygroes, the administrative headquarters, stressing the need to cooperate with McKeown.
When McKeown returned from his leave, Anim visited the Winneba assembly and took the opportunity to see McKeown, to welcome him back to the country, and also to discuss further the issue regarding faith healing. On this occasion McKeown was firm and he is said to have warned Anim that his uncompromising and extreme views on the use of medicine must lead to the expulsion of his group from the Apostolic Church.
Anim puts the story this way:
During our conversation he stated that owing to the unpleasantness of the teachings on healing… I could not hold the name Apostolic Church since the name … had been registered in UK … and said my failure to co-operate would mean applying pressure.
From the foregoing evidence, it is clear that McKeown was not “dismissed” by Anim’s organisation as Beckmann alleges.
Anim conveyed the information about the separation of his movement from McKeown’s organisation to the assemblies and a meeting was called at Pepeade, where Anim’s organisation finally ended its affiliation with the Apostolic Church in June 1939, and “it was prophesied that we should prefix “Christ” to the name Apostolic Church, thus becoming the “Christ Apostolic Church” (CAC).
It is interesting to note here that a similar controversy with the Apostolic missionaries took place at the same time in Nigeria between 1939 and 1940. George Perfect, superintendent of the Apostolic Church, admitted taking a daily dose of quinine as a prophylactic against malaria. This led to the separation of a number of assemblies in the Lagos area from the Apostolic Church in April 1940. The break-away faction was led by D. O. Odubanjo, the leading African Apostle of the Apostolic Church, Lagos Area. This group, after adopting different names, finally decided to adopt the name, Christ Apostolic Church in 1942. Peel gives 13 July 1941 as the date this name was adopted, though he mentions that the “church was formally incorporated on 4 May 1943.” Since the Faith Tabernacle years, the CAC in Ghana and the CAC in Nigeria have been in close fellowship. This cordiality seems to have continued till the deaths of the early leaders.
In Search of Authority
By 1948, I. L. Bennett, Daniel Osei, and J. A. Armah, the early key leaders who supported Anim, were no longer part of the leadership. Apostle Anim, the founder of the church, became the first chairman president or the general superintendent. Anim, for some time after the secession of Brifo, was referred to as “the founder.” Later, some of Anim’s leaders felt that title was the sole prerogative of Christ, so Anim could not use it without endangering his soul. It was therefore dropped.
The organisation, in its early years, maintained two administrative centres: the “general headquarters,” based at Asamankese, and the “missionary headquarters,” based at Akim Oda. By 1952, the work had spread throughout the country. This therefore called for the creation of pastoral circuits in April 1952, namely those of Asamankese, Akim Oda, Kumasi, Mandessim, Somanya, Winneba, Tarkwa, Nsawam, Accra, Boso (V. R. District) and Keta. In November 1952 the executive again divided the country (the Gold Coast proper and the Ashanti) into “areas,” namely,
Abuakwa Area, including Abuakwa, Agona, Akwapim and New Juaben.
Kotoku Area, constituted of Kotoku, Fanti, Tardwa, and Takoradi.
Krobo Area, composed of Krobo, Togoland, Keta, and Ga-Adangbe.
Ashanti Area, composed of Ashanti, Sefwi, and the Northern Territories.
Anim’s organisation entered into a series of short-lived fellowships with different foreign bodies, the first being an American evangelical body known as the “New Day Movement.” Later on, there was another short-lived fellowship with the United Pentecostal Church (UPC), a unitarian Pentecostal body in the USA.
The “Premature” Retirement of Anim
In August 1957, Anim was retired after 40 years of service. His position was taken by one of his two senior assistant pastors, D. K. Brifo. Anim returned to settle at Boso, his home town. After some time, he wrote to the executive stating that
the Lord says it is not His perfect will according to various prophecies he spoke to you through some prophets or saints. Secondly, it is not scriptural to advise or force a spiritual leader to relinquish his post of authority by either the elders or the council.
It appears that the new leadership was not able to fulfill the commitment made to Anim for his upkeep. This may have contributed to his difficulties. Things did not go well for the new leadership under Brifo. Dissension and alleged financial impropriety were reported. Anim was unhappy about this development and shed many tears. A voice from God prompted him to convene a meeting at Nsawam.
All the church workers met at Nsawam for the meeting. At the meeting it was directed through prophecy that the headquarters of the church be moved from Asamankese to Accra forthwith. Anim’s position as the leader of the organisation was also confirmed through prophecy. The meeting then charged the executive under Brifo with inefficiency and it was therefore dissolved immediately. At a subsequent general council meeting, the Nigerian delegates who were invited to help in the arbitration upheld the decision of the executive, and further recommended that Anim should hold the position of president for life. Brifo resigned from CAC thereafter (possibly 1959) and managed to sway some of the members of the church to follow him.
Several associations and schisms followed in later years. Anim died on 7 February 1984, three days after his 94th birthday. He was succeeded by Apostle Peter Gama, who was then the vice president.
In spite of the enormous challenges Anim and his movement went through over the years, he nonetheless succeeded in establishing a self-governing, self-financing, self-propagating, and a self-theologising Pentecostal denomination in the country, whose aim was to bring salvation in its dual-dimensional facets to its followers. In the pursuit of this task, Anim for a long time, operated as the pater familias of the group, and in conjunction with the “prayer men,” “seers,” “prophets,” and “prophetesses,” a liberation movement through which the Jesus Christ sets free many people held in bondage by Satan, has indeed been firmly established, and many are those who are experiencing salvation in its most vital forms, through the agency of Anim’s movement.
Though Anita did not succeed in building a solid financial base for his organisation before his home ca!l, he laid a solid spiritual foundation, which enabled his successors to build upon. By his indefatigable efforts and dedication in pioneering the first indigenous evangelical Pentecostal movement in Ghana, which later gave birth to three major Pentecostal denominations (the Christ Apostolic Church, the Apostolic Church of Ghana, and the Church of Pentecost), he has won for himself the accolade, “Father of Ghanaian Evangelical Pentecostalism.” He died in penury, but he is now walking on the streets of gold!
Source: E. Kingsley Larbi