The Accra Wesley Chapel (Cathedral) was built and dedicated in 1960 after forty years of construction. The next major project for Wesley Society was the installation and dedication of a suitable Pipe Organ in the Cathedral on 18th and 19th September 1965. Experience however taught the Society that there was the need for a Church Hall to take care of the social activities which were hitherto done in the Cathedral. Also the Church could not get enough time for the Children's Service which shared the same auditorium with the adults. Such arrangement did not augur well for teaching Children. Thus the idea for a Church Hall was born.
Coincidentally, the Wesley Cemetery adjacent to the Wesley Chapel (Cathedral) became a challenge to the Church. Some of the trees of the beautiful foliage in the cemetery extended their boughs to the nearby street providing shelter. Unfortunately as the population in the area began to increase the tree cover became a nuisance to the Wesley Church and the public since robbers and misfits of society made the cemetery their haven and took advantage of the tree cover to rob innocent citizens of their possessions while walking along the street after dusk.
For a solution the Wesley Leaders Meeting, under the Chairmanship of the Rev. Joe K. Clegg, Chairman of the Accra District and Superintendent Minister of the Accra Circuit, decided to remove the tree cover by cutting down all the trees in the cemetery to make the place open. As it turned out the open environment created made it convenient for drug users and wee-smokers to practice their bad habits and easier for them to escape whenever the law enforcement agencies tried to arrest them. Later when more people moved into Accra in search of nonexistent jobs, most of them found the cemetery a convenient place to ease themselves. This became a worry to the Church since this bad habit could cause health hazards to the public.
Thus in early 1970s, the Leaders' Meeting decided to desecrate the old Wesley Cemetery and put it to another use. Buried in the Cemetery were such dignitaries like the Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman and wife, Rev. Alfred T. R. Bartrop, Chairman of the Gold Coast District of the Methodist Church, Rev John Plange and many other Missionaries, Deaconesses and Church Members.
A Building Committee appointed under the Chairmanship of Bro. Vincent J. R. Richter, Circuit Steward, and tasked with the responsibility for building a Church Hall on the desecrated grounds came out with a Church Hall building plan to sit two thousand (2000) audiences. The design was made by Design Associates. The Church however could not afford the initial architectural fee of nine thousand (¢9,000.00) cedis, ie.Gh¢9.00 currently, so the project died naturally.
In 1978 the Rev. Lawrence Hardy Shewland Osae-Addo became Superintendent Minister of the Accra Circuit. Under his stewardship the project was twisted to include need for accommodation for Wesley Society Circuit Ministers. A Projects Committee was formed and dedicated on 6th February 1979 under the Chairmanship of Bro. E. A. Mensah, an Electrical Engineer with Bro. Richard Lamiadu Lawson as Secretary. The Committee was charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing all projects approved by the Wesley Leaders' Meeting, including reviewing of the existing Church Hall project and recommending new and viable ones.
After assessment of existing plans and taking into consideration aspirations of Church members the Committee laid out the blueprint, in a block plan, for re-development of the former cemetery. The Block Plan identified for construction, a Church Hall Complex, Hostel with a Restaurant, Library facilities, Block of Offices, one Senior Manse, two Junior Manses, Caretaker's Residence and a Monument to the memory of those buried in the desecrated cemetery. The objective was to provide a one-stop conferencing centre for rental.
Scarcity of building materials in the country at that time delayed construction of the first Junior Manse, which took about seven years to complete and dedicated on 25th April 1992 But before its completion the Very Rev. Daniel Okine Tetteh, who had assumed office as Superintendent Minister of the Accra Circuit in 1988 commenced preparatory works for the building of the Church Hall in the blueprint and arranged for sod cutting by the Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Ashikwei Ashitey, Chairman of the Accra District. This culminated in the designing, by Nel Arc Consult; Environmental Planners & Designers led by Mr. Edward Padu Nelson, of the Church Hall that we are opening and dedicating today, named REV JOHN WESLEY CONFEENCE HALL. The design include an Auditorium with a large upper Gallery to sit about 1,500 audience, a Stage and Changing Rooms, Projection Room, Offices, Mini Conference Room, space for Archives, Conveniences and Terraces all round the building for excess audience.
Before his stewardship ended in September 1993, the Very Rev Tetteh appointed a Building Committee under the Chairmanship of Bro. Selby Ashong-Katai with Bro. Justice Amugi as Secretary..
The foundation works of the Hall started during the term of the succeeding Superintendent Minister, Rt. Rev. Charles R. A. Pappoe. Two members of the Building Committee, Dr. Loveridge Emmanuel Allotey Pappoe and Bro. Samuel Nii Ayi Quaye were made responsible for the construction. The Rt. Rev. Pappoe did not see completion of the foundation in his time since his stewardship at Wesley lasted only one year.
Work on the project came to a brief standstill under the stewardship of the incoming Superintendent Minister, Rev. Nahum Ansah Mensah, because a section of the congregation did not see the Church Hall project as a priority. While the debate was going on the Circuit Minister, Rev. Isaac Sarpei Akushie, succeeded in getting Bro. Joseph Kodjo Armah, a building contractor and a member of Wesley Society, interested in the Project. Bro. Armah also invited Bro. Joseph Kotey Ashie, a Building Technologist and member of Wesley Society, to superintend work on the entire project.
The congregation were unaware of what was happening behind the scenes thus it came as a surprise to them when suddenly they saw that work had resumed on the foundation with resources from Bro. Armah. Simultaneously Mr. Samuel Tetteh Commey was appointed a contractor, Mr. Addo Boateng of Addo and Addo Engineering a Structural Engineer and Nel-Arc Consult, Environmental Planners & Designers, resumed their role as architects. This action brought back life into the project. The Superintendent Minister then reshuffled membership of the Building Committee appointing a new Chairman, Bro. Justice George Lantei Lamptey, a Justice of the Supreme Court. Bro. Humphrey Kweku Acquaye was appointed Treasurer and Bro. Richard Lamiadu Lawson as the liaison person between the project and the Church Authorities and other stakeholders.
On the advice of the Architect and Structural Engineer the foundation was re-examined and after the Contractor had prepared it according to their specifications a work force of about thirty, from Bro. Armah, with their equipment and material, concrete mixers, sand, cement, aggregates, a water tanker, constructed the foundation platform. Next, the same was done for the Gallery and the First Floor after the Contractor had raised all the columns which were later sold to Church members to raise funds for the project. It was a big success since all the columns were sold out. When it was realized that much of the work was in concrete the Building Committee managed to buy a Concrete Mixer to relieve Bro. Armah of his Concrete Mixers. It must be noted here that Bro. Armah did not only assist with some of his construction equipments but also with supply of sand, aggregates and gravel free of charge throughout the construction phase.
By the grace of God work continued smoothly with regular funding from the congregation. By agreement with the congregation the Second Collection, “Kofi and Ama” which yielded about Four Million cedis (¢4,000,000.00) per month, ie GH¢400.00, plus a portion of the Annual Harvest were the main sources of funding for the project. When the construction had almost reached lintel stage for roofing to begin, funds from the Kofi and Ama were diverted to the District and Connexion because Wesley Society were heavily in arrears of their assessment payments.
Also the project was in debt to the Contractor for non-payment of his fees over a period and to some of the building material suppliers. Suddenly the Rev. Nahum Ansah Mensah died in harness in1998. Thus the attention of the incoming Superintendent Minister, Rt. Rev/ Samuel Kofi Hodasi, was directed to payment of project debts from proceeds of the previous year's Annual Harvest. Rt. Rev. Hodasi stayed for only one year.
These happened at a time when Bro. Armah had hinted about donating to the Church a Tipper Truck, a JCB machine and Earth Compactor if the Church could acquire additional Concrete Mixer, a Concrete Vibrator and a Steering Dumper to enable it set up a construction company in the name of Accra Wesley Methodist Church to raise more funds to complete all the proposals in the blueprint. This could not materialize due to the sudden and unexpected death of Bro. Armah. Our source of help was gone at a time when the Methodist Biannual Conference for the year 2000 was scheduled for Wesley Cathedral, Accra Circuit and the Conference were hoping to dedicate and use the completed Church Hall probably naming it Methodist Millennium Hall. This unfortunate event served as a warning to some of the congregation that we must provide more support financially if we sincerely wanted to see the Church Hall completed.
Thus during the stewardship of the next Superintendent Minister, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Ashikwei Ashitey, the roof trusses were install by WAHOME STEEL LTD. To raise funds for roofing an appeal was made to the congregation for every member to voluntary make a monthly freewill contribution of their widow's mite and account cards were distributed to willing members to keep record of their contributions. The response was overwhelming and the funds so raised together with a small loan from the Methodist Head Office helped fixed the aluminium sheets by Glanderson Builders Pack, one day before the Methodist Millennium Conference started.
After a heavy down pour in 2002, the Leadership of the Church spearheaded by the Building Committee detected major leakages from the roofing project undertaken by Glanderson Builders Park earlier on in 2000. Several attempts were made to seal these leakages but to no avail. This became a major concern to the Church as the leakages were not of a kind to be solved with patches. It was also detected that the thickness of aluminum sheet used wasn't conducive for a project of such magnitude thus Messer's Glanderson Builders Park was contacted for a solution to this unexpected development.
After series of frank discussions with the Contractors, it was agreed between the two parties that a solution to this unfortunate development was for the Church to trade in the roofing sheets in place by topping up what was the initial contract sum for Glanderson Builders Park to reroof the entire project. This was going to cost the Church over One Hundred and Seventy million Cedis (GH¢17,000.00). This was at a time when the Church was facing challenges in terms of funding for the project. It therefore became another major headache for the Church.
Fortunately, in mid 2003 as a result of a twinning relationship developed between Wesley Cathedral, Accra and Trinity United Reformed Methodist Church, Sutton, United Kingdom through the efforts of the late B.B. Wilson, his wife Sheila Nancy Wilson who were domiciled in the UK and Deacons at Trinity Church, the Junior Churches (Children Service) of both Churches, the Supt. Minister of Trinity Rev. Martin Camroux led a six member delegation to visit Wesley Cathedral, Accra. That was a reciprocal visit following a similar visit to Trinity by the then Supt. Minister for Accra Circuit, Very Rev. George Mensah in 2002. The cost of his travelling expenses was borne by Trinity. Among the Trinity delegation was Mr. Malcolm Booth the Junior Church Leader and Church Treasurer. They were conducted round the project and congratulated Wesley Society for initiating the project.
In July 2004, Trinity again extended the hand of friendship to Wesley by inviting the then Supt. Minister Very Rev. Asford N. Y. Quarcoo, his Spouse, the Sunday School Supt. and two children from the Wesley Children's service to visit the United Kingdom. All expenses were again borne by Trinity. Upon a request from church members, Trinity decided to accommodate five extra children whose parents requested to pay for their Air passage to and from the UK. This therefore brought to Ten (10) the visiting delegation from Wesley.
One major request Very Rev. Asford N. Y. Quarcoo as the Head of the visiting delegation placed before the Leadership of Trinity during a meeting between himself supported by then Sunday School Supt. Bro. Emmanuel kwafo Offei representing Wesley and Rev. Martin Camroux, Mr. Malcolm Booth and other church deacons representing Trinity was for financial assistance to refurbish Wesley Church's Pipe organ. In response, Trinity made it clear to Wesley Society that their budget could not support our request for over Fifty thousand Pounds (£50,000.00). They were however prepared to support any project being under taken by Wesley to the tune of Ten thousand Pounds (£10,000.00).
The two Wesley representatives had to confer and do a quick thinking about Trinity's proposal and quickly suggested to their host about the re-roofing of the Church Hall project which was a major concern to the entire Wesley congregation back home. Trinity agreed to assist Wesley to re-roof the leaking Church Hall and remitted to Wesley Cathedral through the Wesley Children's Service an amount of Ten thousand five hundred pounds (£10,500.00) an equivalent of almost One Hundred and Eighty million Cedis (GH¢18,000.00) for Wesley to undertake the re-roofing project. The project was completed during the latter part of 2005.
The Church later needed enough funds to tackle the next phase, which was tiling of the external walls. Then as if the Church had not had its fair share of misfortune another tragedy struck again. Bro Joseph Kotey Ashie, the Building Technologist, died from a motor accident. To raise funds the uncompleted but roofed Hall was rented to the West Africa Examination Council for a fee for their annual examinations. It was also rented to families for their funeral and wedding receptions. Diocesan Crusades were also held there free of charge.
The lapse period of about two years ended when the Very Rev. Asford Nii Yartey Quarcoo became Superintendent Minister of the Accra Circuit in 2002. During his stewardship the Building Committee was rejuvenated bringing in more professionals. To ensure due diligence to the project, a team of consultants was formed for a more professional approach to be adopted for the construction. Mr. Edward Padu Nelson of Nel-Arc Consult was the principal consultant and Bro. Daniel Nathaniel Nii Otinkorang Quarcoo was the project architect. Bro. Timothy Sarpei Akushie of W K Nyarko & Partners was the project Quantity Surveyor and Bro. Robert Odartey Lamptey of Project Engineers was the Services Engineer.
With this new arrangement the project continued with measured drawings and redesigning for smooth construction. The first task of this new set-up was to prevail upon Glanderson Builders Pack, the company which supplied and fixed the roof, to re-roof the building which was badly leaking due to a defect in the material used. This done the consultants next tackled the joinery works on the arched windows which presented a special challenge due to its large size and complex nature. An earlier attempt to buy wood from Coppon Wood Processing Limited at Akim Oda to fix the arches ended in failure. This time, a joinery firm, Furnart Limited, located in Accra, did the work creditably due to the influence of Nana Adu Boafo I, a member of Wesley Society, who was the General Manager of that firm.
Subsequently, on the advice of the Consultants, all other works carried out on the Church Hall were given out on sub-contracts through tender process. This was to ensure efficiency and safety. Work then proceeded with external wall tiling and internal plastering followed by Terrace roofing with the first fix of electrical and plumbing works simultaneously.
In 2006 the Very Rev. Alfred Nii Okai Aryeetey became the Superintendent Minister of the Accra Circuit and he embraced the project with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm which ensured continuity. During his stewardship traces of corrosion on the roof trusses which had been exposed to the sea breeze for a long time were brushed off and the trusses coated with anti rust paint. The ceiling works were then carried out in phases by Messrs Hard bit limited. This was followed by floor tiling, Doors and Windows, Railings (balustrade), wooden cladding (which include the wonderful work on the stage) and other finishing. A second fix of electrical and plumbing works were also carried out alongside the finishing works. Finally the external works began with landscaping
Glory and honour be to God for the services of the many professionals and non professionals, the Clergy, Church Hall Building Committee members and the Congregation, dead or living, whose selfless contributions and commitment have made this achievement possible.
We thank God that by His grace we have lived to see the end of this project which started about twenty-four years ago. Amen.