One of the enduring legacies of the Windrush Generation — and one of Black Britain’s major success stories — is its churches. Britain’s Black community are people of faith and leaders of its churches are men and women of influence. It’s also a fact that many of Britain’s most educated, successful and wealthiest individuals have some aspect of Christianity in their backgrounds. With all this in mind, Keep The Faith has shone a spotlight on men of influence within the Black Christian community. Have a read and be inspired.
PASTOR MATTHEW ASHIMOLOWO
Senior Pastor, Kingsway International Christian Centre
Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo is a trailblazer, role model and key leader within Britain’s Black Christian community and beyond. He is Senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre, one of the largest churches in Western Europe. His name was etched in UK church history after opening the 4000-seater miracle centre in Hackney, east London in 1998. At the time it was the largest church to open in the UK in 100 years. Viewed as a visionary, Pastor Matthew launched the UK’s first church-owned television channel, KICC TV, and his television and radio ministry, Winning Ways, is received by a potential audience of several hundred million people in Europe, Africa, Asia, the USA and the Caribbean. He is an award-winning author, whose titles include What’s Wrong With Being Black? He currently presides over congregations across the UK, Africa and Canada.
DR ROBERT BECKFORD
Academic, author and TV presenter
A leading academic and lecturer, Dr Robert Beckford has taught at some of the UK’s leading educational establishments, including Birmingham University, Goldsmith College, and the University of Canterbury. He is currently Professor of Climate and Social Justice at the University of Winchester; Professor of Black Theology at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham; and Professor of Theology at VU (Vrije Universiteit), Amsterdam. He is also a prolific writer, who has published eight books, including Jesus is Dread: Black Theology and Black Culture in Britain; Dread and Pentecostal: A Political Theology for the Black Church in Britain; God and the Gangs: An Urban Toolkit for Those Who Won’t Be Bought Out, Sold Out or Scared Out; and his latest offering, Decolonising Gospel Music Through Praxis. Dr Beckford has also made 25 documentaries that have been broadcast on the BBC and Channel 4. Topics include God is Black, Who Wrote the Bible, Jamaican Bible Remixed and the most recent, After The Flood.
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CEO, Pentecostal Credit Union
Shane Bowes has been CEO of the Pentecostal Credit Union (PCU) since 2016. Founded by Rev Carmel Jones in 1980, the PCU is now regarded as one of the UK’s richest credit unions and has provided a financial haven for Black people to access a range of financial services including loans. Many church leaders used PCU’s loan services to help them buy their church buildings. The PCU has grown in wealth and profile since Shane was appointed CEO and it is now worth over £13million. The PCU also has a focus on encouraging younger members to join, as well as supporting and encouraging the economic development and empowerment of the Black community.
BISHOP DEXTER EDMUND
Presiding Bishop, Bethel Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic UK & Europe
In 2017 Bishop Dexter E Edmund was appointed Presiding Bishop of the Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic) UK & Europe, a historic denomination founded in 1955 by the late Bishop Sydney Dunn, a member of the Windrush Generation. Bishop Edmund is also Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Bethel’s international mother church at Gibson Road, Birmingham. Bishop Edmund is committed to honouring Bethel’s amazing legacy but is also keen to develop a new generation of leaders who will provide leadership in pulpits and the wider world. He currently presides over 30 churches.
BISHOP CLAION GRANDISON
Administrative Bishop, New Testament Church of God
Bishop Claion Grandison is Administrative Bishop of the New Testament Church of God (NTCG) — one of the UK’s historic Black Pentecostal denominations which was founded in 1953. Bishop Grandison is currently overseeing the 70thanniversary celebrations of the church due to take place in August 2023 in Wales and is the first NTCG Administrative Bishop to fully utilise social media. Since his appointment he has released his vision for the church as well as made several new appointments. Bishop Grandison has extensive experience in ministry: from 2000 to 2003 he served as regional NTCG Youth and Christian Education Director in the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Guadeloupe, and St Kitts & Nevis. Upon returning to the UK, he became pastor of NTCG Woolwich. During his time there he established several initiatives, including the Mentoring Leadership Programme (MLP), a homeless kitchen, and a hardship fund during COVID. Prior to his current appointment, Grandison served as Bishop of NTCG Croydon district.
Gospel music singer/songwriter, musician and producer
Samuel Nwachukwu, aka CalledOut Music, is a leading figure in UK Gospel. A member of RCCG, CalledOut Music has built a large fanbase on supporters whose love of his music has seen him gain a social media following of 26,100 people on twitter and 185,000 Instagram. He has also had over 13.6 million streams on Spotify, 4.3million streams on iTunes and over 15 million views on YouTube with his label HFP Music. His most popular song to date is My Prayer, which has had over 6.5million YouTube views. CalledOut Music has received numerous accolades, including Best Male Artist at the Premier Gospel Awards in 2019; Best Gospel Act at the MOBO Awards in 2020; and Male Artist of the Year at the 2021 AStepFwd Awards.
REV LES ISAAC OBE
President, Ascension Trust
Thirty years ago, Rev Les Isaac founded the Ascension Trust (AT), an organisation committed to equipping the Church to share the Gospel in the modern world. Since its formation, the AT has launched eight initiatives – its most well-known being Street Pastors, which was started in 2003. In his role as Founder of Ascension Trust, Rev Les has led missions across the UK and overseas; helped train and grow Street Pastors, which now has 250 teams throughout Britain; sat with government ministers; and been viewed as a spokesperson for the Christian community. In 2022, Rev Isaac’s sermon at the annual National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast — about integrity in public life — inspired the then Health Secretary, Sajid David, to resign, which led to the resignation of other senior politicians in the Tory Cabinet and the exit of the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
Host/compere, comedian and community leader
Anthony ‘Pass Da Mic’ King came to prominence in the Black Christian community as a host and sought-after comedian. However, he has become a man of influence and can be seen regularly on BBC and ITV local news bulletins due to his work addressing youth crime in the London Borough of Croydon. Anthony co-designed and now chairs MyEnds — a project funded by the Violence Reduction Unit and the Mayor of London — which seeks to reduce serious youth violence. Croydon was once dubbed the ‘Crime Capital of London’, but through the work of MyEnds, with the support of church and youth organisations in the area, there have been no teenage murders in 16 months in the borough. Anthony trains the Met Police on cultural awareness and mentors 50 young people weekly. He is also an ordained minister.
LEROY LOGAN MBE
Even though he is now retired from the Metropolitan Police, Leroy is often the first person the media calls whenever they need someone to comment about latest developments within the police force. During his time serving in the Met, Leroy was the founder of the Black Police Association and served as its chairman. In 2020, he released his autobiography, Closing Ranks: My Life as a Cop. Such was the impact of the book that award-winning film director, Steve McQueen, created Red, White and Blue, a drama programme based on Leroy’s decision to become a police officer. The drama was part of BBC 1’s groundbreaking TV anthology, Small Axe series. The book also won the 2021 Best Memoir/Biography category at the CRT Awards. Leroy also works with three charities: Voyage Youth, Spark2Life and T2A (Transition2Adulthood).
BAZIL MEADE MBE
Founder, The London Community Gospel Choir
The London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) is one of the most famous gospel choirs here in the UK. Founded in 1983 by Basil Meade and others, it has become a leading outfit and played a key role in establishing gospel music as a respected artform. Under his leadership LCGC has performed in theatres and music venues throughout the UK, as well as in Europe, Asia and Africa. The Choir recently performed in the Solomon Islands. Aside from being a touring choir, LCGC has also run workshops; performed alongside some of the most famous artists in the world; and served as a training ground for some of Britain’s premier singers and musicians, including Mark Beswick, Dave Daniel, Michelle John and many more.
PASTOR PETER NEMBHARD
Church leader, church planter, preacher and teacher
In the past decade Pastor Peter Nembhard, founder of ARC Global, has become a minister to watch. He first entered the consciousness of the wider church in 2008 when, following the stabbing of a teenager in his church, he focused his attention on reaching the youth. Latterly he is being recognised for his ability to reach Millennials and Gen Z; for the growth of ARC Forest Gate and an extensive church planting programme that has seen him lead the establishment of several ARC churches in London, Essex, Birmingham and Ireland; and a Bible school. In the process of planting churches Pastor Nembhard has raised up a new generation of young leaders, some of whom now lead ARC churches. Aside from his work as leader of ARC Global, Pastor Nembhard is an in-demand preacher and teacher.
MUYIWA OLAREWAJU OBE
Station Director of Premier Gospel, worship leade and presenter of Turning Point International
Muyiwa is one of the most successful worship leaders to come out of Britain’s African Church and has performed throughout the UK, Europe and Africa. Muyiwa has released a total of seven albums and in 2009 he became the first international artist to appear on BET’s Celebration of Gospel programme. Aside from being an artist, Muyiwa is also Director of Premier Gospel, Britain’s leading gospel music station and home to the Premier Gospel Awards. For the past 13 years Muyiwa has presented Turning Point International, a faith-based programme broadcast to 70 million people across Africa and Europe. In 2020 Muyiwa received an OBE for services to music.
REV DR ISRAEL OLUWOLE OLOFINJANA PhD
Director of One People Commission, Evangelical Alliance and author
This Nigerian Baptist minister is currently leader of the One People Commission, an arm of the Evangelical Alliance that celebrates diversity, promotes unity, and connects with Britain’s ethnic churches. Rev Dr Olofinjana is also the founding director of the Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World; an Honorary Research Fellow at the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham; and is on the Advisory Group on Race and Theology of the Society for the Study of Theology (SST). He is a consultant to Lausanne Europe, advising them on matters related to diaspora ministries in Europe. He is on the Christian Aid Working Group of Black-Majority Church leaders, exploring the intersection of climate justice and racial justice, and a member of Tearfund’s Theology Committee. Israel lectures at Christ Theological College on themes related to World Christianity.
PASTOR ADE OMOOBA MBE
Church leader, social entrepreneur and public campaigner
Pastor Omooba has played a pivotal role in the Church for over 35 years. He is co-founder of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, organisations that defend Christians against unjust laws that seek to curtail expressing their faith. Pastor Omooba co-founded the Christian Victory Group (CVG), and for the past 30+ years has helped churches across the UK and Africa to establish over 100 social action projects. In recent years Pastor Omooba has served as President of the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) which aims to provide a Christian voice for Britain’s Black Church community. The NCLF is gearing up for the publication of its second manifesto, which will call churches to engage in social action in a wide range of areas. Pastor Omooba received an MBE for voluntary services.
Visit www.christianconcern.com and www.nclf.org.uk
Head of BBC Religion & Ethics for BBC Audio
Tim Pemberton serves as Head of BBC Religion & Ethics. Prior to this he led the BBC Africa team as Executive Editor for BBC World Service, and was also formerly Managing Editor for several different BBC England local radio stations. Tim is the son of the late Superintendent Desmond Pemberton, who was head of the Wesleyan Holiness Church UK for many years. He joined the BBC in 1989 as a production trainee, and moved on to BBC Radio Wales and worked there for three years as a producer before moving to BBC Network Radio and Television. Tim specialised in Religion and Ethics, working across a range of programmes as director, producer and senior producer. These included Sunday, Good Morning Sunday and Pause For Thought for Terry Wogan on Radio 2; a sports series for BBC 5Live; and the Heaven & Earth Show and Songs of Praise for BBC One.
BISHOP TEDROY POWELL
Leader of Church of God of Prophecy, UK
Bishop Tedroy Powell is the leader of Church of God of Prophecy, which was founded in the UK in 1953. Bishop Powell was appointed to the role in 2017 and presides over 40+ churches across the UK. Prior to that he served as pastor of House of Bread, a COGOP branch based in New Cross, south-east London. During his time at House of Bread, he started Hillview Community Services, a community enterprise which provides educational support to its community. In 2004 he served as National Overseer for Belgium and the Netherlands and established four church plants in those countries. Bishop Powell also serves as a Pentecostal and Charismatic President of Churches Together in England.
BISHOP MIKE ROYAL
General Secretary, Churches Together in England (CTE)
Mike Royal currently serves as General Secretary of Churches Together in England (CT), which brings together over 50 church streams to work together in unity. Bishop Royal is the former Co-CEO of Cinnamon Network, a charity which provides support and helps churches develop and run community initiatives, and a founding trustee and former National Director of Transforming Lives for Good (TLG), a charity that works with children and youth people at risk of exclusion from school. Mike has an academic background in urban planning and Black theology. He also has over 14 years’ experience as a mental health chaplain with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust. Mike has been in ordained pastoral ministry since 1993 and was consecrated as a Pentecostal Bishop in 2016.
Worship leader, musician, songwriter and producer
Noel Robinson is an award-winning songwriter, recording artist and pioneer of the UK gospel music and worship scene. He came to the fore as a young lead guitarist playing for groups like the Inspirational Choir, and was a resident musician on legendary gospel music show, People Get Ready. Noel has played on BBC’s Songs of Praise and has released six albums, including ‘Outrageous Love’ in 2015. He is the author of popular church anthems, ‘Rain’ and ‘You Give Me Life’ and his latest Integrity music release, ‘I Surrender’. Noel is committed to training worship leaders and musicians and hosted The Kingdom Worship Movement events in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester. Aside from leading worship at ministry events throughout the UK and across the world, Noel is the main presenter on the UK’s only live music Christian series, Vox Collective, and continues to impact the worship community around the globe.
MARVIN SANGUINETTI PhD
Theologian, lecturer and pastor
If you use social media and follow Marvin Sanguinetti, you’ll know he uses the platform to share insights and initiate debates around theological issues. Marvin is a Christian
theologian with over 36 years’ experience, working with three major denominations within the Pentecostal (Apostolic) faith tradition. For the past 24 years he has provided theological and Christian education to undergraduate and postgraduate students. He currently lectures at Newman University and is also an academic consultant. He is also a pastor, and since 2001 Marvin has led a small but vibrant fellowship of believers at New Life Apostolic Ministries International (London) — a small vibrant church.
THE RT REV WOYIN KAROWEI DORGU
Bishop of Woolwich
The Rt Rev Dr Karowei Dorgu made history in 2017 when he became the first Nigerian appointed to the role of Bishop of Woolwich in the Diocese of Southwark, in the Church of England (CoE). Bishop Karowei is a leader of leaders, providing spiritual oversight for 89 parishes in the Woolwich Episcopal Area in the Diocese of Southwark, which covers the London boroughs of Southwark, Lewisham and Royal Greenwich, and parts of Bexley, Bromley and Lambeth. Bishop Karowei is also a member of the CoE General Synod and is Chair of Churches Together in South London. Prior to becoming a church leader, Bishop Karowei worked as medical doctor. He came to the UK in 1987; started studying theology (BA Hons) at London Bible College (now LST) in 1990; and was ordained as a deacon in 1995. The following year he was ordained as a priest. Prior to his bishopric, Bishop Karowei was Vicar of St John the Evangelist in Holloway and was made a prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral in 2016.
PASTOR MIKE WHITE
Senior Pastor, The Tab, Lewisham
In his role as Senior Pastor of The Tab Church London, Pastor Mike White has become a figure of inspiration to many. The Tab is currently one of the fastest growing Black-led churches in London and runs a number of community initiatives under its Restoration Empowerment and Community (R.E.A.C.H) initiative. Pastor Mike serves as a member of the board of Borough Deans, offering consultation and advice to the Mayor and to other council leaders on social and religious issues. A highly regarded preacher and speaker, thousands watch The Tab services live on social media. Pastor Mike is regularly invited to speak at churches and conferences throughout the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, the USA and the Caribbean. He has also been regularly featured as both a speaker and host on TBN UK; Premier Gospel Radio UK; and the Word Network USA. A graduate in theology, Pastor Mike serves as a guest lecturer and Governor for Spurgeon’s Theological Seminary College, London.
SUPERINTENDENT DAVID WHYTE
Leader of Wesleyan Holiness Church UK
David Whyte is the current District Superintendent of the Wesleyan Holiness Church (WHC), a denomination started in the UK by members of the Windrush Generation. Superintendent Whyte was appointed to the role in 2022 and has been given the task of setting a new vision and mission with defined strategic objectives for the Wesleyan Church in the UK. Together with the leadership team, he also aims to ensure that the denomination pushes forward with its mission to share the Gospel within modern Britain. Prior to taking up his current role Superintendent Whyte served as WHC’s Youth Director. He also spent ten years in teaching, fulfilling roles such as Head of Faculty and Head of Year in secondary schools.