Diocese of Portsmouth

    Ghanaian bishop had visa refused

    Beyond our diocese
    26 Feb. 2017

    Clergy from Fareham deanery with a large cardboard photo of Bishop Alex, which had to stand in for him at some events

    A GHANAIAN bishop who was due to visit our diocese wasn’t able to come after his visa was refused.

    The Rt Rev Alex Asmah, the new Bishop of Sekondi, was due to spend a week with parishes in Fareham deanery, which his diocese is linked to as part of our Inter-Diocesan West Africa Link (IDWAL).

    He was due to visit a C of E primary school and host an IDWAL celebration service alongside Bishop Christopher, celebrate the Eucharist with IDWAL committee members, and to visit the Isle of Wight.

    He had originally been invited to the Canterbury Conference, which involves bishops from across the worldwide Anglican Communion who are in the early years of episcopal ministry. He was then due to join us after that conference had finished. Letters were provided stating that Canterbury Cathedral were taking responsibility for his flight and that his board and lodging would be covered while he was our guest.

    Unfortunately his UK visa was initially refused, and then the appeal and eventual granting of the visa came too late for his visit to take place.

    A large photo of Bishop Alex was created and taken to some of the events that he would have attended. The photo was left in our cathedral to remind people of our links with Ghana, and to pray for Bishop Alex and his ministry.

    IDWAL secretary Canon Marion Syms said: “The reasons that were given for the refusal were incredulous. Among them was the suggestion that he would not be able to cover the cost of his visit without working or accessing public funds. They weren’t satisfied that he was a genuine visitor who would leave the UK at the end of his visit.

    “The route that is open to the Anglican Communion in these circumstances was activated and a commendation of Bishop Alex’s visit was subsequently sent from the Home Office to the High Commission in Accra with instructions that the visa refusal be overturned. For some inexplicable reason this memorandum wasn’t received in Accra until the day the Canterbury Conference was due to close.

    “He returned to Sekondi with a heavy heart, having made the journey to Accra four times in a week.”

    We now expect he will attend a Canterbury Conference in early 2018, and hope that he will be able to join us immediately after that.