The Methodist Church, Ghana, says it has neither gone for a bailout from its membership nor compulsorily levied all its societies, as has been published.
At a meeting yesterday attended by some members of the church’s leadership, the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, told the Daily Graphic that “The Methodist Church denies flatly that we have gone for a bailout. We are simply saying that as a church we owe it a duty to provide infrastructure. We have gone for a loan and because of the huge interest, we’re trying to take measures to pay off the principal and the loan.”
The meeting was called by the leadership to react to a story published by the Daily Graphic in its last Tuesday issue under the headline: “Methodist Church seeks bailout to pay debts of its university”.
The Most Rev. Prof. Asante said the Methodist University College (MUC) had not incurred any debt that had to be paid by the church.
Rather, he explained that to be able to provide the much-needed infrastructure for the university, the church had contracted a loan of Ghc10 million from the Prudential Bank.
He said in view of the rapidly accumulating interest on the loan, the church, at its general council meeting, agreed to contribute to pay off the debt.
“Interest accrued up to February was Ghc7,082,305.77, making a total of Ghc17,082,305.77. To date, we have paid Ghc9,642,530.51. Of this amount that we have paid, the principal paid is Ghc2,644,062.20. It means that of the Ghc9 million that we have paid, we have paid interest of Ghc6,998,468.31, leaving, as of February 27, Ghc7,739.775.26 subject to further interest,” he disclosed.
He said it was because of the galloping interest that the church, in August 2014, decided to take drastic measures to pay all the debt at once to stop servicing the interest.
“Conference took a decision that 30 per cent of everybody’s harvest should be paid to the church for onward transmission to our bankers, so that we could clear the principal and the debt,” he explained.
The Most Rev Asante said as of January 2015, it was realised that although churches had had their harvests, the amount of money that trickled in was not able to meet the target, while the interest was still rising.
That, he said, necessitated another meeting of the Connexional Executive with Diocesan executives and treasurers on the implementation of the earlier conference decision to pay the indebtedness of the MUC to the Prudential Bank, amounting to Ghc8,225,495.53.
“That meeting unanimously resolved that all dioceses do a mop up of the 30 percent harvest proceeds, amounting to Ghc2.5 million, and send to the Connexional Office by February 9, 2015 and further pay up the balance of Ghc5,725,495.53 in the proportion of current assessment ratios to enable the church to clear the debt by May 31, 2015,” he said.
The Methodist Church also discounted claims that members of the church were being denied admission to the university and stated that everyone who qualified was given admission.
He said the bursaries that were given to 30 students every year had been scrapped, as more than that number needed that assistance.
He said in its place, all students belonging to the church were given a five per cent rebate on their fees.
Reacting to assertions that superintendent ministers had been tasked to ensure that their congregations helped to settle the loan or risk being denied their salaries, the Presiding Bishop said that was not true.