Episcopal Bishop Heads West Africa Internal Province

By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy

The Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Liberia, Jonathan Bonaparte Baubau Hart, has been enthroned as Archbishop of the Internal Province of West Africa (IpWA) in the Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA).

Bishop Hart who is currently resident at the Cathedral Church of Holy Trinity on Broad Street is the second Bishop to be elected as the Most Reverend to the distinguished office and rank of Archbishop of the IpWA. He succeeds Dr. Solomon Tilewa Ethelbert Willie Johnson of The Gambia who died in office on January 21, 2014.

Archbishop Hart was elected on May 1, 2014 by the Electoral College of the IpWA in the St. Augustine Anglican Church in Freetown, Sierra Leone and he is also the dean of the CPWA. Dr. Hart now assumes the role of having oversight responsibility for the Anglican Communion Bishops from Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Cameroon including Liberia.

Bishop Hart was consecrated as Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Liberia on March 2, 2008 and has been in that position serving diligently; a service the President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, described in her congratulatory message as ‘excellent.’

President Sirleaf said, “We and the Episcopal denomination in Liberia have not the slightest doubt that you will measure up to the task of your new assignment considering services you have rendered to the flock here in the Diocese of Liberia and your astute ecumenical standing within the communities of the Christian faith”.

The celebrant, B.B. Hart thanked the IpWA and the CPWA for entrusting him with the task and assured his commitment and dedication to the calling, and at the same time thanked the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, the President of Liberia, faith based groups of Liberia and his dear wife, Frances Hart as well as his family members for their support throughout his 30 years and more of church service.

In a congratulatory message to the Archbishop, the Primate and Metropolitan Archbishop of the CPWA, Daniel Yinka Sarfo who succeeded the late Dr. George Brown of Liberia, urged Archbishop Hart to use his home facilities to build the headquarters or offices of the IpWA.

Rev. Sarfo pledged to work with Archbishop Hart as together they can build on the legacies of their predecessors especially that of the late Rev. Brown whom he considered as one of the ‘finest primates’.

Dr. Sarfo, also the current Anglican Bishop of Kumasi, Ghana reminded the new Archbishop about the wish of the late Primate Brown that they ensure that the two internal Provinces eventually become autonomous Provinces during their tenure and concluded by suggesting that looking at the task ahead, it is advisable that the Diocese of Liberia creates a Suffragan Area to be led by a Suffragan Bishop.

Meanwhile, the enthronement service was held at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity on Sunday, July 6, and attended by over 15 other Bishops of the Province including Primate Sarfo and his wife, Mary Sarfo, Bishop Thomas Wilson and his wife Victoria Wilson from Freetown, Sierra Leone, Rev. Festus Yeboah-Asuamah and his wife Felecia Yeboah-Asuamah from Sunyani, as well as other international guests from the United States of America and England. Vice President Joseph Boakai among other national dignitaries was also present.

The 8th Primate and Metropolitan of the CPWA and former Bishop of Accra, Justice Akrofi speaking to the congregation said that the enthronement service should demonstrate to all Episcopalians in Liberia that they are an integral part of the bigger part and described Archbishop Hart as a symbol of a father of fathers in God’s house because one of the primary images of church is God’s household.