Biography Of Rev. James Mckeown, Founder of COP (1900 - 1989)


His Early Life:

Rev. James Mckeown was born on September 12th, 1900, at Ballymena in Scotland to his Irish parents, William John Mckeown and Elizabeth Thompson. He was brought up in a Christian home. He knew his Bible and even liked the idea of becoming a minister when he grew up.


At the age of nineteen, he became converted through the ministry of Rev. Robert Mercer. Rev. George Jeffreys of the Elim Four Square Gospel Alliance in Ballymena, baptized James and Sophia, who later became his wife. He received his Holy Spirit baptism later. Rev James Mckeown left school at the age of eleven. Sophia however, got educated to the advanced age of nineteen and studied dressmaking for two years becoming a fully qualified seamstress. Rev. James assisted his father on the farm and later became a tram driver, when an inspector on Glasgow’s tram put James’ name forward.


He got married to Sophia Kennock, in 1927. Sophia was attracted to James because of his praying habit. She said, she never heard anyone prayer like that before.

Call To Ministry:

At an Elim meeting, at which both James and Sophia were present, there was a prophecy that someone from that group would go to Africa. Rev. James came into contact with the Apostolic whilst at Glasgow. At a large Apostolic convention in England, it was specifically prophesied that James and Sophia should go to West Africa as Missionaries. Both James and Sophia were not present at the convention. The executive finally informed him about the prophecy. However , like Moses, he looked into himself and realized his weaknesses. He refused the call chiefly because of his inadequate formal training. Fifteen months went by before he accepted the call when he could no longer contain the persistent cries of Sophia, urging him to do so. James left the United Kingdom for the then Gold Coast on a boat in February 1937. On March 4th, 1937, Rev. James arrived in the then Gold Coast to begin work as resident missionary of the Apostolic Church of Bradford.


Rev. James Mckeown’s vision was to help establish the Church and announce the good news of God’s Kingdom and to be a living testimony to the people about the power of God.

Political Era:

The Apostolic Missionary arrived at a time and period of profound social and political awareness, which was to pave the way for the independence of the Nation in 1957. During that time, formal education was at its infant stage. The progress of Christianity in the Gold Coast was also slow, with the greater proportion of her people worshipping idols. Rev. James therefore began his full-gospel ministry within the setting of social and political tension on the other hand, and general spiritual darkness on the other. He plunged into action and worked tirelessly in towns and villages in the southern part of the Gold Coast winning thousands of converts who in turn witnessed to other people about Christ. As a man of action, Rev. James personally took part in manual work undertaken by the Church. For example, he was actively involved in the construction of the first Mission house at Asamankese. Such display of humility and service characterized his ministry to the extent that the people among whom he worked emulated his example.

African Mode:

He lived as an African in very many ways. His meals were, for that matter, locally prepared. Earlier in his ministry, when development projects had not reached the rural areas, he drunk from the typical African well dug out for him by the members. His ministry also involved extensive trekking on foot and across streams and rivers.

Who Was Rev. Mckeown?:

He was an honest, gently, affable and respected man of God. As a condiment and skillful leader, he combined humility with firmness to nurture the Church of Pentecost to the height of success. By his wisdom granted by God, he chose a band of selfless disciples who pioneered the Church from hard times to the present glorious day. Rev. James always insisted on self-reliance as against soliciting for financial assistance from abroad. In early 1982, Rev. James decided to hand over the mantle of leadership to an African minister. He explained that age was having a telling effect on him and that it was time he tired. So on the tenth of October 1982, he inducted into office, Rev. F. S. Sarfo (deceased). He later left the shores of the country for the U.K. from where he was fed with reports on the progress of the church. In 1984, Rev. James paid his last visit to the country. Within this time he officiated the sod-cutting ceremony of the extension work at the Church’s headquarters in Accra. Soon after that visit he left for good, never to return. Said he, at the time of his visit, “you are witnesses that my hands are clean”. On May 4th 1989, he was called to eternal rest at his home in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.


Prophet M. K. Yeboah, then Chairman of the Church of Pentecost, in his tribute had this to say: He was a man of God from Ireland. He was obedient to his God and loved the African. He spent over forty years an African. This man of glory had no halo of glory round his devoted head. No luster marked the sacred path in which his foot-steps trod. Yet holiness was graven upon his thoughtful brow. And unto God unto alone, his high-borne Soul would bow. He often was peculiar and seldom understood, and yet his godliness, purity, maturity, grace and power in his fatherly love and leadership were felt by both the godly and ungodly. “He lived in touch with heaven a life of faith, payer and meditation. His sympathies, hopes and joy – his all were centered there. He was a chosen servant among God’s many sons. He bore his sayings on his lips, and on his errands ran. No human frown he feared, no earthly praise he sought. But in the dignity of Heaven his burning message spoke.” From the Executive Council of the Church of Pentecost, the following tribute was paid (abridged): “We are the living testimonies of the life and word of Rev. James Mckeown – the man whose ministry has influenced the lifestyles of many people. The vision of James Mckeown must have been fired by his love for God and his preparedness to lay down his life for the continent of Africa. Pastor James’ sense of selflessness was an asset in the making of this historic and marvelous ministry. In the midst of turmoil and anguish, he was resilient and calm. He found rest in the Lord. He knew God would always bring to fruition his driven purpose. James Mckeown’s ministry was people oriented. He always came down to the level of the people, ate their food and drank their water. He enabled his followers to develop a sense of self-worth alongside the grace of God. Snobbery, favoritism and discrimination had no place in his ministry. He was a very plain man who communicated the gospel of Jesus Christ in simple language. Pastor James was a man of conscience and principles who never tolerated open sin the moral indiscipline in the light of God’s word. He combined personal warmth with a remarkable sense of humor. His choice of native workers for the full time ministry was based more on spiritual insight more than his own judgment or convenience. Never has any human life been so willingly dispensed with as an offering for so many millions of lost souls, as Pastor James.”


Rev. & Mrs. Oppong Asare-Duah, The Gallent Soldiers of The Church of Pentecost: History of the Fathers of Old Whose Relentless Efforts Gave Birth to the Church. Accra: Rock Publicity Limited, 2002. Christine Leonard, A Giant in Ghana. West Sussex: New Wine Press, 1989.


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