January 1, 1835: Rev Joseph Dunwell arrives in the Gold Coast

Joseph Rhodes Dunwell was sent to the Gold Coast in January 1835 as one of nine missionaries sent by the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (WMMS) to work in Africa and overseas. Unfortunately by June 25, 1835 he was dead from malaria.

Before his death, Dunwell had led the few educated men later to become the pillars of the church into a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. He also reconciled the two factions of Smith and de-Graft and on March 26, 1835, he issued to fifty adherents, the first Methodist Church membership cards ever given in Ghana. This act marked the formal establishment of the Methodist Church in Ghana. These first formal adherents of the Methodist faith were so nurtured that the untimely death of their Reverend Minister would not permanently shake their faith. Before him, a number of missionaries of other denominations – Anglican, Dutch Reformed Church, French and Portuguese Catholic priests, and Presbyterians had worked in the Gold Coast with similar intentions of propagating the Gospel resulting in the creation of pockets of Christian communities prior to 1835.

In the first eight years of the Church’s life, 11 out of 21 Missionaries who worked in the Gold Coast died. Thomas Birch Freeman, who arrived at the Gold Coast in 1838 was a great pioneer of Missionary expansion. Between 1838 and 1857 he carried Methodism from the Coastal areas to Kumasi in the Asante hinterland of the Gold Coast. He also established Methodist Societies in Badagry and AbeoKuta in Nigeria with the assistance of William De-Graft.