James Mckeown was born at Ballymena in Northern Ireland to Irish parents, William John Mckeown and Elizabeth Thompson. He left school at the age of 11. He helped his father on the farm and later became a tram driver. He got converted to Pentecostalism in 1919 through the work of Rev. Robert Mercer and Rev. George Jeffreys of the Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance.
In 1927, James McKeown got married to Sophia Kennock. Sophia later said she got attracted to James because of his praying habit. Noting that she never saw anyone who prayed like James. James and Sophia McKeown did not have any children.
James McKeown arrived in the Gold Coast on March 4, 1937 to begin missionary work as the resident missionary of the Apostolic Church of Bradford after having left the United Kingdom for the then Gold Coast on a boat in February 1937.
He had delayed the decision to become a missionary for 15 months after a prophecy had been made that he would go to West Africa on Missionary duty. He had initially refused to become a missionary owing chiefly to his inadequate formal training.
He settled in Asamankese and begun his missionary work there. His wife Sophia joined him in the Gold Coast in September 1937.
After he had been able to establish the Apostolic Church in the Gold Coast, James McKeown fell out with the native Church leaders for having been taken to the Ridge Hospital in Accra for medical attention.
In 1953 another crisis arose which saw a large section of the Apostolic Church following Pastor James Mckeown to form the Gold Coast Apostolic Church. This eventually culminated in the founding of the Church of Pentecost after Ghana’s first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah advised for a change of name so as to settle disputes that arose as a result of its break away.
In early 1982, James Mckeown handed over leadership of the Church to a Ghanaian, Rev. F. S. Sarfo, and inducted him into office in October 1982 after which left Ghana. He paid his last visit to the West African country in 1984.
The Pentecostal torch which was lit by the Lord in Ghana through the ministry of this great man of God continues to burn aflame as we possess the nations.