- Post 27 January 2012
- By Special to the Daily World
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The Rev. Dr. Ndugu G.B. T'Ofori-Atta (a.k.a. George B. Thomas), a preacher, educator and former pastor, died Wednesday, Jan. 11, at his home in Atlanta following health challenges and a subsequent period of illness. He was 87.
Dr. T'Ofori-Atta, affectionately known as "Dr. T.," was professor emeritus of Area III: Persons, Society and Culture, where he taught Sociology of Religion as well as in the department of Missiology, Evangelism and Religions of the World at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), where he founded and directed the Religious Heritage of the African World (RHAW) project. An ordained minister of the AME Zion Church, T'Ofori-Atta worked as a missionary in the former Belgian Congo in the 1950s and '60s where he made important links to the Kimbanguist independent African church movement. He was a founding organizer of the Pan African Christian Conference.
Born on July 11, 1924, in Stowe Township of McKees Rock, Pa., about 15 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, T'Ofori-Atta was christened George Benjamin Thomas, the second of four children born to George McGarner Thomas and Naomi Sykes Thomas. In the 1940s, following a three-year stint in the U.S. Army, T'Ofori-Atta received an A.B., 1950, Lincoln University; S.T.B., 1953, Boston University; S.T.M., 1954, Boston University; Diploma, 1960, School of African Studies, Brussels, Belgium; Additional Study,1965, School of International Relations, American University. In 1975, He went on to receive his Doctor of Ministry at the Colgate Rochester Divinity School. 135
The 1960s and '70s saw Dr. T'Ofori-Atta deepening his connection to and relationship with Africa, spending significant periods of time in Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia and Congo. By the 1970s, T'Ofori-Atta and his family had moved to Atlanta where he joined the faculty of the Interdenominational Theological Center and began educating seminarians on a wholistic theological enterprise through African and African-American knowledge and experiences.
Some of his publications include "ChristKwanza" and "Mother Zion: African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church - The Birth Story a Denomination" co-authored with Dr. George W. McMurray.
He has had many appointments including serving at Shaw Temple in the '70s and '80s in Atlanta, and three times at Bush Chapel in
Winder, Ga. He also served as presiding elder of the North Georgia Conference in the 1980s under Bishops Arthur Marshall and Cecil Bishop.
Dr. T. first retired in 1999, but was called back after one day to serve as the first pastor of Faith AME Zion Church in Atlanta. While serving as pastor of Faith under Bishops Joseph Johnson and Clarence Carr, he was appointed as Director of Strategic Planning for the AME Zion Church in the State of Georgia. At the 2006 Annual Conference, Dr. T. was officially retired from active ministry.
Some organizational affiliations include: The Concerned Black Clergy (current Historian); The Open Door; ASCAT; Founding member (along with Mrs. Josephine Foggie) of the The Howard Thurman Circle; Chair/High Council of Elders of the World Africa Diaspora Union; American Friends Services Committee; Shrine of the Black Madonna; the Kimbanguist Church (Congo); All African Conference of Churches; World Council of Churches and a career long affiliation with The Martin Luther King Fellows, Inc. which included international travel and scholarship.
Dr. T'Ofori-Atta was preceded in death by his parents George McGarner Thomas and Naomi Sykes Thomas; siblings Edward Eugene Thomas and Josephine Thomas Kyles; and his first wife, Farrel Harmon Thomas. He is survived by his wife, Alice Pippins T'Ofori-Atta; sons, George Ghana Thomas (Carylon) of Montgomery, AL; Eric Allen Shaka Thomas and Arthur Pippins of Atlanta, GA; daughters Roseanna Lorraine Abina Thomas Brannon of Atlanta, GA, Akua Pippins Hicks (Isaiah)of Decatur, GA, and Akosua Aisha T'Ofori-Atta at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is also survived by his sister, Naomi Thomas; sisters-in-law, Savannah Lane, Joyce Lomax, Rose Johnson; eight grandchildren: Emmanuel Shamar Pinkett, George Daniel Ofori-Atta Thomas, Benjamin Ghana Allen Thomas, Gabriel Eliot Kwame Thomas, Nathaniel Vincent Wesley Ndugu Jonathon Thomas, Nichelle Lorraine Abina Imani Brannon Ward, Kira Farrel Brannon Leggins (Jecorey), Christina Rose Brannon Carter; great-grandchildren and extended family members, and close friends.
Services for Dr. T'Ofori-Atta will include a visitation on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Murray Brothers Funeral Home, 1199 Utoy Springs Rd., S.W. ; and a homegoing service on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 4 p.m. at Berean Seventh Day Adventist Church, 291 Hamilton E. Holmes Dr. N.W.
Condolences may be sent to the T'Ofori-Atta family at 3240 Valleydale Drive, Atlanta 30311. In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Dr. T'Ofori-Atta can be sent to RHAW/ITC, 700 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Atlanta 30314.