Christian Men of Influence 2024

The Black community is filled with numerous Christian men making a positive and transformative impact in all spheres of society. In this 2024 Keep The Faith Men of Influence list, we have featured individuals who are making waves in the Church and wider society with their work, faith or business. Have a read. Be inspired, motivated, and glad that these men are utilising their talents, fulfilling their purpose, and making their community proud.

SEGUN AKINWOLEOLA
Founder, The Gym Kitchen 

Segun Akinwoleola is one of a growing number of young Christians making a major mark in the business world, and in his case, it’s the world of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). Segun is one of a few Black entrepreneurs in FMCG with his own brand, The Gym Kitchen, which sells healthy ready meals, grains and lentils in major retail outlets, like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, Co-op, Amazon, and Ocado. The Food Gym was one of five Black businesses that recently won £100,000 worth of free advertising in a competition run by Lloyds Bank and Channel 4. In May 2024, The Gym Kitchen won an award at the Tesco Business Conference for innovation. Segun is a Christian with a first-class degree in Business Management, and is passionate about entrepreneurship and diversity within FMCG. He regularly offers support to the next generation of food founders.

Visit www.thegymkitchen.co.uk

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 – and provides leadership oversight to 16 UK congregations and 32 churches overseas. Pastor Matthew is responsible for launching the UK’s first church-owned television channel, KICC TV, and his radio/television ministry, Winning Ways, can be viewed by an 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?, and can be seen regularly on social media, leading prayer initiatives.

Visit www.kicc.org.uk

DR ROBERT BECKFORD
Academic, author and TV presenter

Dr Robert Beckford is a leading Black academic, theologian and writer. 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 Vrije Universiteit (VU), Amsterdam. He is constantly encouraging Black church leaders and lay members to study theology so as to increase their knowledge and understanding of Christianity. A prolific writer, Dr Beckford has published eight books. Titles include 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.

Follow him on Facebook

SHANE BOWES
CEO, Pentecostal Credit Union

Shane Bowes has been CEO of the Pentecostal Credit Union (PCU) since 2016. Founded by the late Rev Carmel Jones in 1980, the PCU is now regarded financially as one of the strongest credit unions in the UK, and provides a range of financial services including loans. Many church leaders have used PCU’s loan services to help them buy their church buildings. The PCU has grown in wealth and profile since Shane has been at the helm, and is now worth over £13million. The PCU is focused on increasing membership amongst young people, as well as supporting and encouraging the economic development and empowerment of the Black community and has specific initiatives for its membership in this regard.

Visit www.pcuuk.com

EFREM BUCKLE
Deputy CEO and Director of Training and Mentoring

Efrem Buckle serves as London City Mission’s Deputy CEO and Director of Training and Mentoring, and draws deeply on his 30-year experience working in urban gospel ministry on four continents. London City Mission (LCM) is a leading Christian charity that works alongside local churches in London to share the Gospel and equip believers to share a message of hope to those least likely to hear it. Efrem has worked at LCM for 10 years and started as a part-time training manager. For the past 20 years, he has served as church-planting pastor of ecclesia, the church he co-founded, based in Lewisham, south London. He still serves the church along with his wife of over 30 years. Efrem has studied at Oak Hill College; completed the Urban Ministry Program; and is the proprietor of Urban Mission School, the church-run, government-registered independent school he established in 2016.  

Visit www.lcm.org.uk.

BISHOP JOHN FRANCIS
Founder, Ruach City Church

For over four decades, Bishop John Francis has been a person of influence and impact within Britain’s Black Christian community. He came to wider public attention in the 1980s as director of the Inspirational Choir, who signed a record deal with CBS. Bishop Francis was an in-demand preacher before he started Ruach City Church (RCC) in Brixton in 1992. The church was renowned for being a church that grew quickly, attracting people of all backgrounds. RCC now has four branches. The Brixton branch is gearing up to move to a new venue in Streatham and the church has partnered with a housing association to build affordable housing in south London. Bishop Francis is regularly called on to be part of initiatives that call for engagement between the Church, its institutions and wider society.

Visit www.ruachcitychurch.org.uk

SHABAZZ GRAHAM
Creator of Qcast

Shabazz Graham is the creator, co-founder and CEO of Qcast, a virtual interview app and enterprise solution tool. The app encourages people to ask questions to elicit answers that will benefit other people on the app, and has been used at events hosted by churches, charities and businesses to facilitate discussion and connection. Qcast aims to encourage people to ask good questions in an environment where answers are solution-focused, particularly on subjects of major concerns to society. Such is its ingenuity, Shabazz has been approached by major corporations interested in purchasing it. Shabazz has had a long career in media. He has made documentaries for charities and corporates, and has worked for many leading organisations, including MTV, Channel 4, BBC, Channel 5, and advertising agencies. He has also been a radio news reviewer and guest commentator on multiple podcasts, speaking as a social advocate on controversial, topical questions.

Visit www.qcast.io

BISHOP CLAION GRANDISON
National Administrative Bishop, New Testament Church of God UK

Bishop Grandison presides over New Testament Church of God (NTCG) – a historic Pentecostal church denomination with 130 churches, 350 ministers and 11,000 members. He also oversees the denomination’s 82 cross-cultural churches. Bishop Grandison was appointed to the role in 2022, and over the last 18 months, NTCG has experienced a new energy as it implements Bishop Claion’s vision that they be a relevant, relational church that’s active in the community, and sharing the Gospel. Members are currently gearing up for their 2024 National Convention, which take place from 23-25 August at the International Conference Centre in Wales. Bishop Grandison is a graduate of Spurgeon’s College, where he gained a degree in theology, and is a guest lecturer in Pentecostal studies. In his spare time, Bishop Claion is an avid writer of poetry and aims to publish his first book later this year.

Visit www.ntcg.org.uk

REV LES ISAAC OBE
President, Ascension Trust

Rev Les Isaac is one of Britain’s most well-known and respected church leaders. He is the founder of the Ascension Trust (AT), an organisation committed to equipping the Church to share the Gospel in the modern world. Its most well-known initiative is Street Pastors. Although he is no longer at the helm of AT, Rev Isaac remains very active in the church world. He is an in-demand speaker and preacher in the UK and overseas, and along with his wife, Louise, regularly hosts Enrichment Days for married couples, and pre-marriage workshops for courting and engaged couples. Rev Isaac is also a changemaker. In 2022 his sermon about integrity in public life, delivered at the annual National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, inspired the then Health Secretary Sajid Javid to resign, which created a domino effect. Other senior politicians in the Tory Cabinet resigned and the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, stepped down, making way for Rishi Sunak to become leader of the Tory Party and Britain’s first Prime Minister of Indian origin.

Visit www.ascensiontrust.org.uk

BEJOY PAL
CEO, The Ascension Trust

Bejoy Pal is CEO of the Ascension Trust (AT), an organisation that serves as the governing body for eight church-led initiatives, including Street Pastors, School and College Pastors, The Synergy Network, 60/40 Youth Mission, and Overseas Mission. Bejoy has been part of the Ascension Trust for nine years and was appointed CEO in January 2022. A Street Pastor in Croydon and a School Pastor in Lambeth, Bejoy has been involved in youth work/ministry for many years, supporting missions and projects in Moldova and countries across East and West Africa; as well as connecting with the young people and community at Christchurch Purley, which has been his spiritual home for over 20 years. He desires to see a united church, visibly present in local communities, and bringing the transformational message of Jesus’ Gospel through peace, hope, faith and love.

Visit www.ascensiontrust.org.uk

REV DAVID SHOSANYA
Founder of PAIDEIA Training & Consultancy and The Ministers Appreciation Ball

Rev David Shosanya is a much-loved and respected church leader and speaker, who has experienced in a wide range of fields. He is currently CEO of Paideia Training & Consultancy, which provides leadership training for voluntary organisations, churches and corporations. He is also founder of the popular Ministers Appreciation Ball – an annual event that brings together church leaders to socialise with their peers. Rev Shosanya is an in-demand speaker, and regularly invited to speak at churches and secular events. He is a sought-after adviser by church leaders. A former columnist with Keep The Faith magazine, Rev Shosanya is a co-founder of Street Pastors, and was formerly a regional minister for the London Baptist Association.

Visit www.paideiatrainingandconsultancy.co.uk

LIMOBLAZE
Award-winning gospel artist

Limoblaze, born Samuel Onwubiko, is an award-winning Nigerian gospel artist, based in the UK, and signed to US-based label Reach Records. He is known for the song, ‘Jireh (My Provider) Afrobeat Remix’ ft. Happi and Lecrae. The song has had over 212,000 views on Instagram Reels. The song reached number 31 on Billboard’s US Afrobeat song chart, peaked at number 41 on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart, and number 15 on Billboard’s Gospel Song chart. Limoblaze has released six albums; the last one, Sunday in Lagos (2022), showcased the vibrant sounds of Nigeria’s largest city. Limoblaze won the 2024 MOBO Award for Best Gospel Act and was nominated for Dove Awards in categories for Best Rap/Hip-hop Song and Album of the Year. He was also nominated for Best Rap/Hip-Hop Song for Jireh (My Provider) at the Stellar Awards, and in 2023 was recognised as one of the TIDAL Rising Artists to Watch.

Visit www.limoblaze.com

TIM PEMBERTON
BBC Head of Religion & Ethics

Tim Pemberton is Head of Content for radio, online and social media in BBC Religion and Ethics. He oversees a team of producers and editors who make programmes for BBC Radio 4, Radio 3, Radio 2, the World Service and BBC Sounds. Titles include Thought For The Day (R4), Moral Maze (R4), Sunday (R4), and Sunday Worship. 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, where he worked for three years as a producer before moving to BBC Network Radio and Television. He has held a number of prominent roles at the BBC, including Managing Editor of BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Executive Editor of BBC Africa, BBC World Service.

Visit www.bbc.co.uk

MUYIWA OLAREWAJU OBE
Station Director, Premier Gospel; worship leader; presenter of Turning Point International

Muyiwa is a multi-talented, award-winning worship leader and media personality. He is one of the most successful worship leaders to come out of Britain’s African churches. He has released a total of seven albums and has performed throughout the UK, Europe and Africa. 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 14 years, Muyiwa has presented Turning Point International, a faith-based programme broadcast to 70 million people across Africa and Europe. He is presently developing www.haapu.tv (a web platform) along with two other partners, which will broadcast faith-based content. In 2020 Muyiwa received an OBE for services to music.

Visit www.premiergospel.org.uk

REV DR ISRAEL OLUWOLE OLOFINJANA (PhD)
Director, One People Commission, Evangelical Alliance; author

A Baptist minister, Nigerian-born Rev Dr Israel Oluwole Olofinjana is 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 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 a member of the Advisory Group on Race and Theology of the Society for the Study of Theology (SST). 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.

Visit www.eauk.org

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 the expression of their faith. Pastor Omooba is co-founder of the Christian Victory Group (CVG), which has helped churches in the UK and Africa establish over 100 social action projects. In recent years, Pastor Omooba has served as President of the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF), which is a Christian voice for Britain’s Black Church community, and helped oversee the publication of its second manifesto – the Black Church Political Mobilisation: Manifesto for Action – which calls on churches to engage in social action in a wide range of areas. Pastor Omooba received an MBE for voluntary services in 2019.

Visit www.christianconcern.com and www.nclf.org.uk

BISHOP TEDROY POWELL
Leader of Church of God of Prophecy, UK

Bishop Tedroy Powell is the leader of Church of God of Prophecy that was founded in the UK in 1953. Bishop Powell was appointed to the role in 2017 and presides over more than 40 churches across the UK. Prior to that, he served as pastor of House of Bread, a COGOP branch based in New Cross, southeast 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 was appointed as National Overseer for Belgium and theNetherlands and established four church plants in those countries. Bishop Powell also serves as a Pentecostal and Charismatic President of Churches Together in England.

Visit www.cogop.org.uk

BISHOP MIKE ROYAL
General Secretary, Churches Together in England (CTE)

Mike Royal is General Secretary of Churches Together in England (CTE) 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 helps churches develop and run community initiatives, and is a founding trustee and former National Director of Transforming Lives for Good (TLG), a charity that works with children and young 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.

Visit www.cte.org.uk

NOEL ROBINSON
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. Noel is committed to training worship leaders and musicians. For several years, he hosted The Kingdom Worship Movement (KWM) events, held in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester, which comprised of workshops and live worship sessions. Aside from leading worship at ministry events throughout the UK and across the world, Noel is the main presenter on Vox Collective, a Christian music series broadcast on God TV. He is currently working on a new album, scheduled for release later this year, and will be hosting a worship retreat in July.

Visit www.noelrobinson.com

AMANI SIMPSON
CEO of Aviard Inspires, youth coach, filmmaker and campaigner

Amani Simpson is a young man committed to creating positive pathways for the next generation. He is also a filmmaker, and his debut short film AMANI has been viewed over 4 million times. As CEO of AVIARD Inspires, Amani has produced impactful youth initiatives alongside The Mayor of London, Goldman Sachs and former 2x Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. He’s won numerous awards including the Governor-General’s Diaspora Achievement Award for Excellence from his mother country, Jamaica, for his work supporting young people with their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit www.amanisimpson.com and www.aviard.co.uk

COLIN TOMLIN
Co-Founder, Pitch Black magazine

Along with his wife, Judy, Colin co-publishes Pitch Black magazine, which celebrates and challenges the UK’s Black business and professional communities to be their very best.
Pitch Black magazine started after the murder of George Floyd, and the first copy was issued during Black History Month 2021. Pitch Black is committed to featuring stories about Britain’s leading business people, and people who have graced its front cover include Lincoln ‘Len’ Dyke, Dudley Dryden and Tony Wade, founders of Dyke & Dryden; Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE; Lord Dr Michael Hastings; and Ken and Mary Okoroafor. Colin, the son of a pioneering leader of the New Testament Church of God UK, currently lives in Norfolk. He serves as a Generous Giving Adviser for the Diocese of Norwich, advising over 500 parishes to be more generous and become self-sustaining.
Visit www.pitchblack.online

Visit https://pitchblack.systeme.io/

PASTOR MIKE WHITE
Senior Pastor, The Tab, Lewisham

Mike White is Senior Pastor at The Tab, currently one of the fastest-growing Black Pentecostal churches in London and runs several community initiatives under its Restoration Empowerment and Community (R.E.A.C.H) initiative. Pastor Mike has a passion for ‘the local church and leadership’ and has served as a consultant to several local churches and national church organisations in the UK by providing guidance and training on Contemporary Leadership and Transitional Leadership. A highly regarded preacher and speaker, thousands watch The Tab services live on social media, and 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 featured as 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.

Visit www.thetab.org.uk

SIMON WRIGHT
Managing Director, The Honey Group

Simon Wright is a founding director of Honey Legal, a national estate planning firm.

From a standing start in 2010, Honey Legal today has over 74,500 clients, and the value of protection given was over £21 billion at the end of 2023. During the COVID-19 crisis, Honey Legal played a key supporting role, giving away free wills to over 3,000 NHS and front-line key workers. On average, Honey Legal clients donate over of £12 million to charities each year.

He played a vital role in transforming the company into a regulated entity, and has over 22 years of experience in the financial services sector. A committed Christian, Simon is passionate about supporting his local community. In 2018, he took up running as a hobby, and within 18 months had raced in three international marathons. H has used his passion for running to raise thousands of pounds to support various child-focused and community charities, as well as helping to fund local food banks.

Visit www.honeylegal.co.uk

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