The last edition of Keep The Faith featured details of some of Britain’s most influential Black Christian women. We couldn’t produce our June edition, which focuses on men, without including details of some of the UK’s most influential ones.
The power within the Black Christian community lies with the church leaders, hence the preponderance of them in the list. They drive the direction of the Church and whatever issues they take on board, the membership follows. You will see from this list that it also includes music artists, some media owners, an academic and some business personnel. We hope you agree that those listed are indeed men of influence.
REV YEMI ADEDEJI
Position: Director of One People Commission, Ambassador
Reason for influence: Due to the many hats Rev Adedeji wears, he is a pivotal figure in the UK church scene. He is Director of One People Commission, an arm of the Evangelical Alliance, which represents the concerns of Black and Minority Ethnic church leaders. Rev Adejeji also serves as an associate director for Hope Together UK; global ambassador for
Compassion UK and strategic adviser for leaders in ministry, across the United Kingdom
BISHOP JOE ALDRED
Position: Church Leader, Ecumenist, Author, Radio Presenter/Broadcaster
Reason for influence: Church of God of Prophecy minister, Bishop Joe Aldred, is an ordained minister within the Church of God of Prophecy; a founding member of the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF), an organisation representing Britain’s Black Church community, and works at Churches Together in England, where he has responsibility for Pentecostal and Multi-cultural relations. He is also a broadcaster, and presents a topical news show on BBC WM with Nicky Tapper, and has also authored a number of well-received books.
REV ADE AMOOBA
Position: Owner, Christian Concern & Christian Legal Centre
Reason for influence: Church leader, Rev Amooba, has his fingers in a lot of pies. He’s a co-founder of several organisations, including the Christian Victory Group and its ICARE Projects, which have helped set up over 70 social action projects in the past 19 years. He’s also co-owner of Christian Concern, a UK lobby/campaign group on public policy, and the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which represents believers who are persecuted for their faith. CLC has been involved in a number of high-profile cases.
PASTOR MATTHEW ASHIMOLOWO
Position: Founder/Senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre
Reason for influence: If there’s one Black Christian, who has made a major, immeasurable impact on the UK church scene, is Nigerian-born minister, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo. He made history in 1998, when he opened the 4000-seater Miracle Centre in Hackney, east London. It was the largest church to open in the UK for 100 years. He is one of the first Black Church leaders in the UK to fully utilise PR, marketing and TV to promote the Gospel and, as a result, became the first popular TV evangelist to arise from the UK.
REV KINGSLEY APPIAGYEI
Position: Senior Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church
Reason for influence: Rev Kingsley is Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist church, one of the largest congregations within the Baptist Union of Great Britain, attracting over 1000 congregants every Sunday. He is a former president of the Baptist Union, and is a member of the Baptist Union Council.
PROFESSOR ROBERT BECKFORD
Position: Professor in Theology, Canterbury University, Author, TV presenter
Reason for influence: Professor Beckford is the UK’s most well-known Black theologian, and has been responsible for making the subject interesting and relevant for Christians of all ages, via his groundbreaking books and his TV programmes broadcast on the BBC and Channel 4. He is currently working on a project, which takes the Jamaican Patois Bible, published by the Bible Society in 2012, and mixes it with Black music genres and critical commentary on the text, in order to reach the younger generation.
BISHOP DONALD BOLT
Position: National Overseer, New Testament Church of God
Reason for influence: Bishop Bolt presides over the New Testament Church of God, one of Britain’s oldest Black Pentecostal denominations. He was appointed to the role last year, and provides leadership to 128 congregations across the UK, serving 13,000 members and 40,000 adherents. He recently launched Mission and Ministry Christian Centred Vision – his vision statement for NTCG for the next four years.
REV JOEL EDWARDS
Position: International Director, Micah Challenge
Reason for influence: In his role as International Director of Micah Challenge, Rev Edwards travels the world, encouraging churches to get involved in advocating for the poor and disadvantaged. He is also a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day and is an advisory member of Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation. Rev Edwards is also a history maker. In 1997, he became the first Black general director of the Evangelical Alliance, the representative body for Britain’s evangelical Christians.
BISHOP JOHN FRANCIS
Position: Senior Pastor, Ruach City Church and co-founder of Flow TV
Reason for influence: Bishop John Francis is founder of Ruach Ministries, one of Britain’s most well-known Black Christian churches. Ruach City Church has congregations based in Brixton, Kilburn, Walthamstow, Leicester, Birmingham and Philadelphia in the US. Bishop Francis is also International Director of Ruach Network of Churches, which overseas approximately 50+ churches in the UK and abroad. In 2006, Bishop Francis became the first Black Church leader to host a British prime minister, when Tony Blair visited the Brixton branch. Last year, Bishop Francis launched satellite TV station, Flow TV.
BISHOP LLEWELLYN GRAHAM
Position: Chief Executive Officer, Nehemiah Housing Project
Reason for influence: Alongside his work pastoring Jubilee Christian Centre in Wolverhampton, this ordained Church of God of Prophecy bishop is CEO of Nehemiah United Churches Housing Association, one of the largest housing associations started by a Black Pentecostal church. He is also a member of the Institute of Directors, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners.
LORD MICHAEL HASTINGS
Position: Global Head of Citizenship and Diversity, KPMG
Reason for influence: Lord Michael Hastings is a man of influence in the areas of business, charity and the Media, and was appointed a life peer in 2005. He is Global Head of Citizenship and Diversity at KPMG, and previously worked at the BBC as Head of Public Affairs and was their first Head of Corporate Social Responsibility. He is a board member of UNICEF UK, and a trustee of Vodaphone Group Foundation. In January 2003, Lord Hastings was awarded a CBE in recognition of his services to crime reduction, including 15 years as Chairman of Crime Concern and 21 as a trustee. He is President of ZANE – a development aid agency focused on Zimbabwe.
PASTOR AGU IRUKWU
Position: Head of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, UK
Reason for influence: Former banker, Pastor Agu Irukwu oversees the Redeemed Christian Church of God’s 600-plus congregations across the UK, and is Senior Pastor of Jesus House, in Brent, north London. RCCG hosts Festival of Life (FoL), Britain’s largest prayer gathering, and attracts up to 40,000 people, including VIPs such as UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited this year’s FoL as part of his election campaign. Other high-profile attendees include the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 2012, Pastor Agu was voted London’s most influential person in a poll conducted by the Mayor of London’s Office and The Metro newspaper. Pastor Agu is at the forefront of RCCG’s efforts to be relevant in the communities in which they are based.
REV LES ISAAC, OBE
Position: CEO of the Ascension Trust and Co-Founder of Street Pastors
Reason for influence: Street Pastors is the largest charity to be started by Black Christians in the UK, and Rev Isaac is a co-founder of the initiative, launched in 2003 in response to the gun and knife crime that was then prevalent. The focus of the organisation has changed over the years, and now promotes community safety and has been embraced by churches across the denominational spectrum. There are now over 250 Street Pastor teams across the UK, and it is operational in a number of countries, including the US, Gibraltar, Australia, N Ireland, Jamaica and Antigua.
Position: Managing Director of EN Campaigns
Reason for influence: Samuel Kasumu is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author and political campaigner. Founded in 2013, EN Campaigns seeks to promote and encourage business enterprise in the UK and emerging markets overseas. Services provided include business financing and training. Samuel Kasumu, 27, is deemed a young man to watch. He was chosen as one of the UK’s top 25 young entrepreneurs by the New Entrepreneurs Foundation, and profiled by Operation Black Vote (OBV) as a leading entrepreneur and future political figure.
REV BAZIL MEADE
Position: Founder of London Community Gospel Choir
Reason for influence: There’s no doubting that Bazil Meade has played a major role in developing the UK gospel scene through his work with the London Community Gospel Choir, which he founded over 30 years ago. He is rightly called the ‘Godfather of UK Gospel’ for LCGC’s pioneering work which not only imprinted gospel music into the minds of the British public, but also provided platforms for singers to develop their craft and get work singing. The choir have also exported their sound abroad, and performed in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
Position: Station Director, Premier Gospel, Praise and Worship Artist, Presenter of International TV show, Turning Point
Reason for influence: He is one of the most well-known, Black British Christians across the world. He came to the fore firstly as a gospel presenter on Premier Radio. His next incarnation was as a best-selling UK gospel/praise and worship artist. He was head-hunted to present popular Christian magazine show, Turning Point, watched by millions of people across the globe. And he recently added Station Director of Premier Gospel, one of the UK’s most well-known gospel radio stations, to his list of achievements.
REV DR JONATHAN OLOYEDE
Position: Founder/Convenor, National Day of Prayer and Worship
Reason for influence: Via the organisation, Global Day of Prayer, and now the National Day of Prayer, Rev Dr Jonathan Oloyede has been pushing forward with his God-given vision to bring Christians from across the denominational spectrum together to pray for the nation and to usher in revival. The vision was realised in 2006, when the first Global Day of Prayer was held at Westminster Chapel. The following year, it was held at West Ham Football Stadium. In 2012, it was held at Wembley Stadium. Rev Oloyede also co-pastors City Chapel, a growing multi-cultural church in Beckton, east London, alongside his wife, Abbiih.
Position: Radio Presenter and Founder of UGN Radio
Reason for influence: In the world of UK Gospel, Dave P is a force to be reckoned with. He became a man of influence during his 18 years presenting the gospel show on the former leading urban station, Choice FM. Dave P’s Sunday Morning Show was the one every gospel artist wanted to be on. The station closed down in 2013. Dave P now presents the Sunday morning show on Premier Gospel and runs UGN, an internet gospel station he started in 2013.
BISHOP WILTON POWELL, OBE
Position: National Overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy
Reason for influence: Not only is Bishop Wilton Powell head of a historic African-Caribbean Pentecostal church, he has been at the forefront of a number of key social projects initiated by the Church of God of Prophecy, including Excell3 and Nehemiah Housing Association. He received an OBE in recognition for his contribution to the community.
Position: Musician, worship leader, recording artist
Reason for influence: He is one of the most well-known musicians to come out of the UK’s Black Pentecostal church. He has led worship at events featuring some of the world’s most prominent ministers, including Morris Cerullo and Creflo Dollar. He is also an in-demand artist in his own right and, in recent years, has turned to equipping and empowering the next generation of worship leaders and musicians, via his Renewal Conferences, held across the UK. Noel made history earlier this year, when he became the first Black Briton to be signed to Integrity Music. His debut album for the label will be out in the autumn.
REV DAVID SHOSANYA
Position: Director of Missions, London Baptist Association
Reason for influence: Rev Shosanya is one of the most well-connected Black church leaders in the UK. In his role as Director of Missions for the London Baptist Association, he gives shape to the denomination’s Mission Outreach Policy. He also runs Paideia, an organisation that organises an annual May Ball for key British church leaders across the denominational, cultural and racial spectrum. Rev Shosanya is also a sought-after speaker and teacher. He co-founded Street Pastors, alongside Rev Les Isaac and Ian Crichlow, in 2003.
ARCHBISHOP JOHN SENTAMU
Position: Archbishop of York
Reason for influence: The Archbishop of York is the second most powerful leader within the Church of England, and the Rt Rev John Sentamu is the first Black man to be appointed to the role. Prior to this appointment in 2005, Rev Sentamu served as Bishop of Birmingham and had previously served as Bishop of Stepney. The Archbishop of York has spoken out on issues concerning young people, injustice and racism, and has contributed to the ground-breaking McPherson Report, the official inquiry into the police investigation of the death of Stephen Lawrence.
Position: Founder, Gangsline
Reason for influence: Sheldon is considered an expert on gang culture in Britain, and works alongside churches, government and statutory organisations to help deal with gangs. In 2009, he launched the first helpline for gangs called Gangsline, which provides a confidential service for members who want to leave gangs. It also provides support for the parents of gang members.
BISHOP DEREK WEBLEY
Position: National Secretary, New Testament Church of God
Reason for influence: Bishop Webley is one church leader, who has influence both within and outside the Church. He has held several key roles within the NTCG, including that of National Youth and Education Director, and National Evangelist. For many years, Bishop Webley served as leader of Handsworth NTCG, the denomination’s flagship church in Birmingham. He also made history in 2009, when he became the first independent member of the West Midlands Police Authority to be elected chair – and also the first African-Caribbean.
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