Reverend Dr. Jonathan B. B. Hart, Archbishop of the Internal Province of West Africa and the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Liberia was on Sunday, March 3, 2019, named the 11th Primate and the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA).
At an elaborate ceremony held at Monrovia’s Trinity Cathedral up Broad Street, attended by many ecclesiastical, other dignitaries and Episcopalians from around the country, Archbishop Hart received the Primatial Cross, and was recognized the 11th person to occupy said position, which is the highest in the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa.
He succeeded the 10th Primate and Metropolitan Archbishop of the CPWA, the Most Rev. Prof. Daniel YinkahSarfo, Bishop of Kumasi.
Among those in attendance were the Right Rev. James Y. Odico, Bishop of The Gambia, the Right Rev. Daniel Torto, Bishop of Accra, the Right Rev. Thomas I. Wilson, Bishop of Freetown, who preached the sermon for the occasion, Mother Wilson, and the Right Rev. Jacques Boston, Bishop of Guinea.
The Episcopal Church of the United States was represented by the Rev. David Copley.
In his remarks handing over to Archbishop Hart the Primatial Cross, the most Rev. Prof. YinkahSarfo, said that having served his full term as a Primate and Metropolitan Archbishop of the CPWA in accordance with the constitution of the CPWA, it was his distinguished honor to turn it over to Archbishop Hart.
“I hand over the Primatial Cross to you, the most Rev. Jonathan Bonaparte Baubu Hart, the incoming 11th Primate and Metropolitan Archbishop of the CPWA, in the name of the Father,the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen,” Rev. Prof. Uinkahsarfo said.
Following the transfer of the Primatial Cross to Archbishop Hart, Archbishop Sarfo pledged his support to the new Archbishop.
Archbishop Sarfo told the congregation that he will do everything possible to support Archbishop Hart, because when he headed the CPWA. He was also supported by Archbishop Hart.
In response, Archbishop Jonathan B. B Hart said the task ahead is “a challenge overseeing several dioceses and requires the support of all its members.” He called on everyone to support the work of the church in order to achieve its goal. He is expected to head the office for the next five years.
Archbishop Hart has had a distinguished career. Not only is he the Episcopal bishop of Liberia. He is chair of the Board of Trustees of Cuttington University, and has also served as head of the Inter-Religious Council and president of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC).
He is a graduate of both Cuttington University, with a Bachelor’s degree in Divinity, and also of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, where he took the Master of Divinity degree. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate degree (honoris causa) from the Cuttington University.
In a welcome remarks at a Masonic Temple reception following Sunday’s colorful ceremony at Trinity Cathedral, the chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Liberia, Counselor Seward Montgomery Cooper, Esq., recalled that in 1836, the first footsteps of the Episcopal/Anglican communion in Liberia were planted at Cavalla, Maryland County.
By then, Maryland was not yet part of Liberia. According to him, Cavalla was in what was then the State of Maryland in Africa. “There was no bishop until 1851 when the Episcopal Church of the USA assigned one, and thus emerged what was named the Missionary District of Cape Palmas and Parts Adjacent,” he recalled.
Bishop Browne aptly described the situation: “It [meaning the Liberian Diocese] was ecclesiastically based in the United States yet domiciled in Africa.” He reflected: “Though it was the vision of the founding fathers in 1836 that the mission should extend its religious influence to this region of Western Africa, yet this did not become a reality until 1982.”
So three decades and seven years ago, Liberia became a full member of the Anglican Province of West Africa. Archbishop Browne became the sixth Primate of the Province and our chancellor, Brother J. Rudolph Grimes, as provincial chancellor, led the drafting of the Provincial Constitution and Canons.
It may also be recalled that Liberia was the sixth national church to head of the Province of West Africa. On March 18, 1982, Liberia acquired full membership within the Province of West Africa.
The Anglican Province of West Africa has two Internal Provinces. One Internal Province covers dioceses in Ghana, and the other covers dioceses in the Gambia, Guinea, Liberia Sierra Leone and Cameroun. Each Internal Province is headed by an Archbishop.