The National Church Leaders Forum – A Black Christian Voice

Keep The Faith Magazine has an outstanding history, and we want to build and grow its legacy. 

The National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) is an organisation committed to facilitating a Black Christian voice in the UK. After much prior discussion and planning, the organisation emerged out of a meeting of key church leaders and workers, community organisers and business leaders, which was held at Kingsway International Church Centre (KICC) in London on Tuesday 10th May 2011. 

Over the decade, NCLF has benefitted from financial and resource support from several churches and agencies, as well as the time and skills of several individuals, key among whom has been Juliet Fletcher, who served the organisation in both paid and volunteer capacities. Progress in connecting with and representing the authentic voice of the UK African and Caribbean churches has been slower than hoped.

In 2015, more than 200 UK African and Caribbean Church leaders were involved in the reflection, research, collation, publication and launch of the first ever Black Church Political Manifesto for Mobilisation. The publication coincided then with the General Election, and was widely commended by members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, as well as other political, religious, and civic organisations and individuals. Work has continued on the original manifesto with its nine sections: Church and Community; Criminal Justice; Health and Well-being; Political Mobilisation; Family; Youth and Education; Media, Music, Arts & Culture; International Aid and Development, and Economic Empowerment and Development. The latest iteration is available on the NCLF website.

Since the formation of NCLF in 2011, trustees and volunteers have committed themselves to being a national strategic instrument of the UK African and Caribbean churches through various means. In addition to a series of awareness-raising events – hosted and supported by NCLF – the publication of the Manifesto for Mobilisation in 2015 still stands as our most impactful piece of work to date, finding resonance in religious, academic and political spaces across the country. Over the past five years, we have partnered with various organisations, particularly the Pentecostal Credit Union, to convene workshops with Black Church leaders in Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, and London.

Particularly in 2020 and 2021, with the killing of George Floyd in the USA and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we represented a Black Christian voice in the press and media, in political and religious circles, responded to calls for evidence, and disseminated information via our website and social media platforms. Our focus has been on the pervasive nature of structural racism and the disproportionate affects of COVID-19 on our community. 

We continue to share in wider concerns of how these and other matters affect the whole of the UK society and the world. Trustees and volunteers of the NCLF work to support, advocate and amplify the voice of our churches in society. We hope you are aware of some of these, and may even have attended one of our recent online conferences on Education, or the Church after COVID. Our next event is being planned for the autumn, exploring Black over-representation in the Criminal Justice System, acknowledging the existing contribution of many African and Caribbean churches through prison outreach ministries, and chaplaincies supporting prisoners and their families. 

Our continued commitment to you remains unchanged. We are very aware that our national strategic, advocacy and representational role is complementary and supplementary to the work done by you and your national, regional, and local churches. Our aim is to help cohere and amplify what is being done, so that there is a clear national Black Church voice and presence in the religious, civic, and political national public sphere.

It is against this background that the opportunity to acquire Keep The Faith (KTF) magazine has been a blessing, and complements the work of the NCLF with stakeholders, further amplifying the voice of the Black Christian community in the UK. 

We believe that becoming owner and publisher of KTF – on behalf of the UK African and Caribbean churches – offers many great opportunities for the furtherance of the mission of the Church in this nation. We are in the midst of planning an NCLF and KTF church leadership reception at the next Christian Resources Exhibition, taking place 12-14 October 2021 at Sandown Park, Surrey, and will make an announcement soon. 

Recently, trustees, operating as a management team, have increased the tempo of our work by capitalising on additional volunteering from: Pastor Ade Omooba MBE, Chair; Dr. R David Muir, former Co-Chair; Dionne Gravesande, Company Secretary; Bishop Dr. Joe Aldred – especially since his retirement from Churches Together in England in 2020; Dr. Michel Sacramento, Treasurer; Pastor (Dr) Marcus Chilaka; Rev Celia Collins, and Rev Ron Nathan. 

Specialist volunteers continue to play a significant role in the work of NCLF: Dr Floyd Millen, politics and policing; Elsa Caleb, business development, and Rev Faith Maelys, communications. We are on the lookout for additional volunteers in other specialist fields of interest to the UK African and Caribbean communities, and so we welcome hearing from you. 

Should you have any queries, information, or anything to share with us for wider dissemination, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at info@nclf.org.uk  or through our webpage at www.nclf.org.uk or Twitter @NCLFNEWS

Written by: by Pastor Ade Omooba MBE

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