COUDERSPORT — A church here had a cultural treat last weekend when a man from Ghana visited its congregation.
The First Presbyterian Church of Coudersport welcomed Elder Anthony “Tony” Atsu, from the Northern Ghana Presbytery. Atsu traveled to Potter County as part of a partnership with a Presbyterian church in Erie.
Atsu is an elder in the church, but works as a mechanical engineer, teaching students how to assemble machines. He said it was more traditional mechanical engineering. During an interview with the Potter Leader-Enterprise, he said he wanted to share the word of God and share more about the partnership.
Atsu said part of the mission and his trip to the states is to learn from each other’s culture. We may be different colors, but we are one, he said. That tied in to the worship he lead, which focused on how everyone in the world is one in the eyes of God.
Atsu said it’s important to see and greet people from other places because just talking about it in abstract is different than seeing people in person from other places.
Pastor Donald Caskey said 10% of the offerings collected go back into the community and is usually sent to Ghana. Last year the church sent $10,000. Caskey said it’s a goal of the church to send some of their members to Ghana to help.
“We don’t just want to send money, we want to send our people and our love,” Caskey said.
Mike and Jan Thierfelder are on the mission committee within the church, and agreed with Caskey. They all said they want to be involved in the culture, the people and the area. Sending money was the easy part, they said, getting boots on the ground is the hard part.
“It’s important to realize, no matter where you live, there is a connection,” Jan said.
To get to the states, Atsu was on an 11 hour non-stop flight from Ghana to Dallas, then to Buffalo, N.Y. On Coudersport, Atsu said he liked it.
“I like the place, it’s very quiet,” he said. One thing that surprised Atsu was how many different churches were in just Coudersport. Caskey estimated there were 15 churches.
Atsu said he lives in an urban part of Ghana with his wife and kids, but northern Ghana is a very deprived area. The roads aren’t good and the towns are very far apart. Recently, funds were raised at the Presbytery of Lake Erie and were used to purchase motorbikes for pastors in Ghana to make their daily treks.
Caskey said their church service was more formal compared to what they do in Ghana, though they’re still similar. Both agreed getting the youth involved in the church was a struggle, but one thing they thought could get more youths involved was to change up the type of music that is used during the service.
During the worship Atsu led here, he played the African drum and sang with the congregation. The service was followed by a luncheon catered by Olga’s and a discussion.