Bishop Esme Beswick is one of Britain’s longest serving Black female Pentecostal church leaders, and recently celebrated her 50th anniversary in ministry and leadership. The Jamaican-born minister attended special services held in her honour at the church she pastors – Nebaioth Prophetic Church in Stockwell, south London.
One of the few female bishops within Britain’s Black Pentecostal church, Bishop Beswick has made both an impact and history. In 2002, she became the first Black woman to serve as President of Churches Together in England, an ecumenical body which promotes unity amongst church denominations. The tenure ended in 2006.
Bishop Beswick was present in a ministerial capacity at services that celebrated key moments in British history, including a service celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee, and when the late Princess Diana launched a Drug and Alcohol Awareness project, set up by Bishop Beswick via the organisation she founded, the Joint Council of Churches for All Nations.
Bishop Beswick has four children and nine grandchildren. She puts her success down to her faith in God and the support she has received from her husband of 56 years, Herbert Beswick. She said: “I feel humbled yet excited that God has allowed me to achieve all that I have. Half a century of serving God is a long time, and I give God all the glory for everything.”
A pastor’s daughter, and the youngest and only girl amongst seven brothers, she became a Christian at 16, and was called to the ministry at a young age. In 1961, Bishop Beswick arrived in Britain and started nursing training. She recalled: “I got the shock of my life coming here, seeing the grey skies and experiencing the cold weather and the subtle racism.”
Despite the racism, Bishop Beswick believes her faith and upbringing inadvertently equipped her to serve as a Christian leader in an arena dominated by men. She shared: “I think because I grew up with boys, I wasn’t phased by what men might say. I was very resilient, and being in a family where I was told I could anything I wanted, made me confident.”
Bishop Beswick has no plans to give up work yet and, when asked what advice she would give women coming up behind her, she shared: “I would tell any woman called to the ministry: you have to have faith in God and yourself. And you mustn’t let anyone think you are not able to fulfil your role and calling.”
For more info, visit www.jccan.co.uk.