Bishop Claion Grandison shares his experience of being appointed as leader of a once broken congregation, and of taking the church on a journey towards greater unity, growth and community engagement
Since taking over Chrisma Christian Centre in Woolwich, South East London, in 2003, I have been on a challenging and inspiring journey, leading members of what was once a small congregation from a place of brokenness, to one where people are excited about their faith, the church and reaching out to the community.
The New Testament Church of God was started with just a handful of people, by founding pastor, Bishop Eldermire Johnson, in 1967.
After several changes in the leadership over the years, December 2003 marked another milestone in the history of the church, as the members had to ‘begin again’ after (shall we say) ‘a parting of the ways’ of the previous leadership, and my wife and I were assigned as the new leaders.
At this point, we were leaders on paper only. Our goals were:
• to gain the trust of the people and,eventually, their permission to lead them
• to achieve early successes
• to develop and mentor like-minded leaders, who would develop others.
Amongst all the other happenings was the reality of a building that was falling apart; no money in the bank, and not many willing to volunteer. Nonetheless, we set out to repair the building, the ministry, its finances and the people.
First came the change of our name and mission statement, which the Lord gave to me: Chrisma (the Greek word meaning the unction or anointing of the Holy Spirit) Christian Centre – Transforming Lives by the Power and Word of God.
With the expertise of a very gifted young man, Dukiel Barrett, we designed our logo which has remained our unique branding.
We started off each year with a corporate 21-day fast which, for some, was a very new but welcomed experience. A few years later, we added a second period of fasting for the entire month of September. These periods resulted in a more spiritually-enriched church, with many receiving healing and the baptism in the Holy Ghost.
At the start of each year, we also declared, as by the leading of the Holy Spirit, a theme for that year. This year’s theme is Kingdom Revival – Acts’ Intercession Miracles.
2004 was our first revival meeting, with Rev Gifton Wallace, an old school friend from Jamaica, who was willing to come over and preach without requesting an honorarium. His ministry literally gave our ailing church the kiss of life, and paved the way for our annual revivals. By the way, the meeting went so well that we were able to bless God’s handsome servant handsomely.
In the midst of all of this, extensive repairs and renovations were taking place on the building, much of which was through free labour from the members and friends of the Ministry, coupled with creative fundraising and generous donors, who shall remain nameless.
As many lacked training and experience, we set out to train our Sunday school workers through Child Evangelism Fellowship, an amazing ministry which has made our children’s ministry the jewel in our crown. For all our other workers, we constantly ran locally-based seminars.
For our new believers, it was my special privilege to spend months teaching and preparing them for baptism, many of whom are with us today and serving in ministry.
In 2011, we started our Mentor Leadership Programme (MLP), a 12-month mentoring course for up and coming leaders, with facilitators like Marcia Dixon, Rev and Mrs Dennis Scotland, Grace Alalade, Bishop Tedroy Powell, and yours truly, to name but a few. As a result, we have competent, innovative leaders, helping to raise the level of our ministry, some of whom are now helping to deliver the course, as we look to take it to other churches in the country.
In April this year, we were blessed to start a youth version of MLP for youth aged between 11 and 21, which is proving to be another huge success.
One of our challenges, like many other churches, has been our Sunday evening attendance, so we introduced Chrisma Praise, a free praise evening involving worship teams and gospel artistes from various churches; now a very popular feature of our ministry. To further address this challenge, and to also look at new evangelism opportunities, we joined with our Deptford branch in January of this year for our joint evening “Breakthrough Services” twice a month in both locations, which has resulted in large crowds and many precious souls saved.
In 2011, after our church was broken into by some of the homeless people in our area, we decided to launch Mustard Seed, our homeless feeding programme, which now operates on a monthly basis, serving between 40 and 50 people at a time, and funded by the local church. Since starting the programme, we’ve had Rob, a Sikh restaurant owner, supply us with lots of great Indian food.
Our focus at Chrisma has always been vibrant worship services; a fervent prayer ministry; sound preaching/teaching of the Word; valuing ALL of our members, and a committed leadership/ ministry team dedicated to excellence, and an ethos to always push the limits and try new things. Chrisma’s journey continues.
Chrisma Christian Centre is based at Anglesea Road, Woolwich, London SE18 6EG. For more details visit www.ntcgchrisma.org.