Building On History Project

Engaging with the past to inform the present: the Black Majority Church in London
Held on: Saturday 10th November 2012 1.30 – 4.30pm

Venue : The New Testament Church of God, Lichfield Road, Bow, London, E3 5AT

Many thanks to those of you who came along to the public seminar on Saturday 10th November;

Please find the evaluation form attached for those of you who did not have the chance to complete it on the day. Your feedback and views are very important to the Building On History Project and as Prof John Wolffe explained, we are seeking funding to develop, and collaborate with, projects that reflect your needs and interests.

As one in a series of events for faith groups in London, this seminar reflected on the practical ways in which historical insights into the Black Majority Church and its communities can inform self-understanding and reflections on our faith, contemporary life and associated debates.

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BBC News Reports on Black Church Quest

Black Church Congregation‘Black church leaders are launching a campaign which they say could inspire a million more black voters to go to the polls in the next general election…’

Read the full story from the BBC NEWS Website

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Anglican Church in Harare wins back properties

Anglican Church in Harare ZimbabweA few weeks ago a call for prayer was issued for the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe as the Supreme Court prepared to make judgement on whether to restore the properties that had been grabbed by a breakaway Bishop , back to the Church.

The prayers of Christians worldwide have been answered. The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has won a landmark judgement by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe restoring to the Anglican Dioscese of Harare , all the property it had lost in an unusual case of ‘church invasion’. Nolbert Kunonga in 2007 broke away from the Anglican Church to form his own splinter church and in the process grabbed building, schools and other property belonging to the Anglican church. At the height of the turmoil that followed, Anglican church members were hounded out of their churches sometimes physically harassed and terrorized by Kunonga and his supporters. They resorted to meeting for services under trees, in tents, or rented premises. However after years of legal action backed by prayer to recover the properties the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe ruled that the property should be restored back to the Anglican Church. Justice Omerjee AJA, who read the judgement, said:

“When one leaves a club one does not take its property with him or her. It has long been established as a salutary principle of law in this area of property ownership that when one or more people secede from an existing church, they have no right to claim church property even if those who remain members of the congregation are in the minority.”

The Council of Zimbabwe Christian Leaders UK that works with Diaspora faith leaders has long supported the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe during its darkest hour through prayer and encouragement. In August of 2008 a delegation led by the founding Chairman Rev Levy Moyo met with the then acting Anglican Archbishop of Harare Dr Sebastian Bakare at Heathrow in London where prayers and encouragement were offered for the Bishop and the church as attacks and intimidation were escalating. Again CZCLUK was there to support Bishop Bakare when he was given the Per Anger Award for Justice in Sweden in November of 2008. Representatives of CZCLUK have on several occasions visited the current bishop Gandiya in Harare to offer solidarity with the church.

In this celebratory moment as we reflect on the Lords goodness, we wish to repeat our cry:

But let justice roll down like waters,and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.(Amos 5:24)

Qobo Mayisa

there is only one world, so lets make it a better place

 

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The Search for West Midlands’ New Civic Leaders

Operation Black Vote

Operation Black Vote

Operation Black Vote (OBV) are delighted to launch a unique Civic Leadership Programme to nurture Wolverhampton and Birmingham’s future leaders. The aim of the project is to increase the representation of Black and minority ethnic individuals (BME) in all areas and all levels of civic and public life.

OBV will select 50 dynamic BME individuals aged 18 years upwards who live or work in Wolverhampton or Birmingham with a keen interest in positively contributing to their community. Through this project we aim to positively change people’s lives, civic institutions and their communities. Individuals will participate in a mixture of observation and training sessions across four broad categories of public life: politics, education, the criminal justice system and the voluntary and community sector.

OBV A history of supporting Civic leadership

OBV A history of supporting Civic leadership

The initiative will focus on giving participants firsthand knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of school governors, board members, trustees and other public life roles and an insight into the systems and procedures of public bodies. The aim is that upon completion, this leadership programme will equip and motivate participants to engage in public life.

Participants will also be encouraged to become community ambassadors, explaining and promoting the benefits of civic engagement and encouraging others to also become involved in community affairs.

Francine Fernandes, Assistant Director of Operation Black Vote said, “We are delighted to work in Birmingham and Wolverhampton address the under-representation of BME communities in key areas of civic society. I’m convinced that from this innovative leadership programme a new generation of civic leaders, school governors and community organisers will emerge. There is a wealth of untapped talent amongst BME communities and this programme will provide a platform to nurture this talent for the benefit of all communities.”

Cllr John Cotton, Birmingham Council Cabinet Member for Social Cohesion and Equalities said, “Birmingham is home to a vibrant and diverse array of people and communities.  We need to ensure that diversity is reflected at all levels of leadership within our city.   We have to ensure that we use all the talents within our city, if we want to meet the tremendous economic, social and political challenges we face in the future.”

Cllr Roger Lawrence, Leader of Wolverhampton Council said, “This project is important in Wolverhampton to get wider participation of people from all backgrounds in political & civic life. OBV provides another way to ensure all parts of all communities can have their say.”

Currently BME individuals are woefully represented in our public and civic institutions. Not only is this damaging to a healthy democracy, but the impacts of the lack of representation have detrimental consequences to the socioeconomic conditions which BME communities experience.

Please contact OBV on 020 8983 5426 for further information or to obtain an application form.

Web: www.obv.org.uk Email: civicleaders@obvorg.uk 

Notes to the editor:

  1. Operation Black Vote is a non-party political campaign.
  2. The term ‘Black’ is a political term. It refers to African, Asian, Caribbean and other ethnic minorities.
  3. The programme will be based in the West Midlands and comprise approximately 8-10 non-consecutive days over a six month period.
  4. Individuals will participate in a mixture of observation and training sessions across four areas of public life. Candidates may choose between 2-4 areas of public life from the following areas:
  5. Education: School Governors
  6. Criminal Justice System: Safer Neighbourhood Panels
  7. Politics: Councillor
  8. Voluntary Sector: Trustees
  9. OBV’s Civic Leadership Programme is free, with expenses covered for travel and lunches.
  10. The programme is funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Big Lottery Fund
  11. OBV has successfully run shadowing schemes for over 10 years covering a wide range of civic and political roles. Some graduates include political firsts such as Helen Grant MP, first woman of African Caribbean woman to become a Conservative MP and nearly 100 other graduates have become Magistrates, dispensing justice in cities across the country. The success of the programmes has resulted in twelve political accolades which include the Local Government Chronicle Award and the Channel 4 Political Award in 2008.
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Spot light on PCU

Spotlight logoNCLF forms questions with a brief profile from Shane Bowes,  new Chief Executive Officer of the Pentecostal Credit Union Ltd

When and Why was PCU formed?

The Pentecostal Credit Union (PCU) formally came into being in 1980.  It emerged out of the struggles that many black and minority ethnic people arriving in the UK had to contend with, in particular the barriers put up by financial institutions to lending and inclusion in the financial environment.  PCU provided a positive response to these financial difficulties.

What is a Credit Union?

A Credit union is a financial co-operative that offers its members loans out of savings made by the membership.  A Credit Union is formed by a group of people who share a common interest or ‘bond’.  Credit unions aim to encourage financial thrift – to encourage people to save and provide members with affordable sources of credit.  Many have emerged out of a desire to ensure that opportunities are made available to people on low incomes, or who have problems in saving or achieving a good credit history.  Credit unions are unique in that they follow a philosophy of self-help, members control, and economic democracy.

What is different about PCU and other Credit Unions in the UK?

The common bond of PCU is membership or close affiliation with the Pentecostal Church movement in the UK.  Credit unions have been an integral part of Caribbean life for many years, and in the case of PCU allied to this is the growth of the black majority church in the UK.  Marrying the black Pentecostal Church movement and the concept of credit unions can therefore be seen as a powerful and positive influence for black communities across the UK.  The two entities – the Pentecostal church and the credit union movement – fit well together reflecting principles of fairness, helping ones neighbours, justice and working to make the world a better place to live in.  Credit unions are concerned with people helping people, with a motto of ‘not for profit, not for charity, but for service’.  These approaches reflect the teachings and values of the Pentecostal Church.  PCU has been seen as a vehicle for social and financial inclusion for black communities in the UK.

How would you summarise PCU’s success to date?

Over the past 32 years PCU – through imagination, determination, commitment and strong beliefs –  has grown to become one of the strongest and financially robust credit unions in the country.  It holds members deposits of over £8m and a loan book of £5.5million.

PCU is promoting membership and encourages individuals, businesses and churches who share the common bond to get in touch and find out how we can help to improve your lives.

Contact: Shane Bowes Chief Executive officer

The Pentecostal Credit Union Ltd

15 Oldridge Road

Balham

London SW12 8PL

Tel 0208 673 2542

Email rescuel@pcultd.plus.com

http://www.pcuuk.com

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Black Church Leaders respond to FSA Censure of Rev Carmel Jones and The Pentecostal Credit Union

Press Statement
16 November 2012

The National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) has expressed support for the Reverend Carmel Jones and The Pentecostal Credit Union (TPCU) after the Financial Services Authority (FSA) publically censured them for issuing loans worth £1.2 million under its members’ names but channeling the money to a Church Organisation.

Rev Carmel Jones receiving his MBE in 1990

Rev Jones founded TPCU from his home in 1979 and chaired it until recently; providing a valued service to disadvantaged communities.

The NCLF understands the rationale behind the FSA’s decision to censure Rev Jones for breaches of procedural protocol, but says when a phrase like ‘disgraceful behaviour’ is used in the current toxic economic climate; the impression may be given that here goes another greedy banker. This is far from the case with Rev Jones and the FSA report does not accuse him of benefiting personally from his actions.

The PCU began lending to churches before the FSA was established in 2002, at a time when black individuals and organisations experienced significant difficulty in accessing funding from high street banks. After joining the FSA, TPCU were warned that the practice of lending to corporate bodies must cease; however, because of his determination to assist Black Churches serving poor and disadvantaged communities, Rev Jones suggested ways that would allow TPCU to continue to do so.  When those were rejected by the FSA and TPCU continued to make such loans, this was clearly in breach of guidelines and Rev Jones has accepted responsibility for flouting FSA and TPCU protocols, which are there to protect the interests of members.

Pentecostal Credit Union 1980 – 2012. 32 years of service, particularly to the Black Church community

Bishop John Francis of Ruach Ministries says, ‘Rev Jones and the Pentecostal Credit Union have been an asset to our church because when our bank said ‘no’ it was the credit union that provided us with a loan to purchase our building. The banks were simply not lending to black churches. I am sorry that the creative ways by which Rev Jones was able to assist us and others has landed him in trouble with the Financial Services Authority. Rev Jones is a good man.’

The NCLF believes censuring Rev Jones is appropriate, but says the context of disadvantage and discrimination in which the breaches occurred should not be ignored. Access to mainstream funding continues to be a challenge for minority ethnic communities. TPCU has been a lifeline for several Black churches that have procured buildings over the past three decades; and the NCLF welcomes the change in FSA regulations since January 2012 that now allows corporate bodies to access loans from Credit Unions.

Rev Delroy Powell of the New Testament Assembly says, ‘I am deeply saddened to learn of the FSA’s action against Rev Jones and even more so by the skewed way that the press has portrayed him. I know first-hand of the three decades of relentless efforts and personal sacrifice that Rev Jones has given to servicing the needs of our people, including retired individuals, single parents and organisations, when no other help was there. I am pleased that now the FSA rules have been changed the PCU is no longer restricted and forced to use ‘creative’ ways to assist our community. Sadly this legacy has come at a personal cost to Rev Jones who many of us will hail as the champion behind one of the UK’s most successful financial co-operative.’

FSA Logo

Since January 2012 FSA rules have changed to allow corporate access to loans from Credit Unions

Rev Ade Omooba of Christian Victory Group adds, ‘Rev Jones and the PCU provide a service that is relevant, essential, and practical to the community. We stand by him even while recognising the need to adhere to governing protocols.’

The NCLF understands the FSA code of practice has members’ interests at heart, but recognises also that Rev Jones has above all sought to address the needs of the poor and disadvantaged through TPCU since 1979. It is this commitment to providing help and assistance that the NCLF feels is a fitting legacy that should drive the public narrative concerning Rev Carmel Jones and the Pentecostal Credit Union.

Ends…

Notes:
sThe National Church Leaders Forum – A Black Christian Voice speaks on behalf of the Black Church Movement in the UK
s See ‘FSA publicly censures London credit union’ http://www.fsa.gov.uk/library/communication/pr/2012/100.shtml
See FSA Final Notice: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/static/pubs/final/reverend-jones.pdf

See TPCU Press response to public censure

See Rev Carmel Jones Press response to public censure

Contact NCLF Steering Group: 07775 632288 or 07530 780110
Web: https://nationalchurchleadersforum.wordpress.com

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Black Church Political Manifesto Gets Underway!

NCLF Steering Group members began a fact finding tour across the country in a bid to help write a Black Church manifesto in the run-up to the General Election scheduled for 2015.

Their first meeting, held at Operation Black Vote’s offices in Bethnal Green, London, sought to have a conversation with Black activists, NGO’s and campaigners. Amongst those who attended were Superintendent Leroy Logon, anti-gang campaigner Sheldon Thomas, head of BARAC Lee Jasper, NCLF Steering Group members Celia Apeagyei-Collins, Ade Omooba, and David Muir.

Chairing the meeting Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, also of Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs, Churches Together in England stated:

This all came about during a church leaders meeting in which participants wanted the Black-led churches to engage in a nationwide voter registration campaign, and to formulate a Black church manifesto. We know that there are many spiritual, socio-economic and political issues facing our communities, and we want to show leadership both with knowledge and a great sense of purpose.

Echoing the sense of purpose theme, Celia Apeagyei-Collins stated: This is our ‘Kairos’ moment! She was referring to the South African Black church document published in 1985. A theological document that galvanized the Black churches into political action by using scripture as a tool to mobilize resistance to the apartheid regime. She concluded: ‘A generation of Black church goers, and wider community, will not forgive us if we do not seize this moment.’

Sheldon Thomas urged the Church leadership to ‘listen’ to those youths who were deeply cynical of both politicians and the church leadership. After four hours of discussion and debate, the gathering left the OBV offices much better informed, united towards a common cause, with spirits raised that this indeed could be our ‘Kairos’ moment.

The next Focus Group meeting of academics and theologians will be at the Queens Foundation, Edgbaston, Birmingham 2-6pm on 8 October 2012.


The next series of Focus Group meeting dates re Black Church and Political Mobilisation are:

Black Church Political Manifesto Discussion with Academics
Monday 8 October 2012, 2-6PM, Queens Foundation, Temporary Lecture Room, Somerset Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2QH

Voter Registration Seminar with Black Church Leaders (Birmingham)
Saturday 13 October 2012, 7-9PM, New Testament Church of God Brookfield (The Rock), New Spring Street, Hockley, Birmingham, B18 7LG

Voter Registration Focus Service
Sunday 14 October 2012, 10.30AM-1PM, New Testament Church of God Brookfield (The Rock), New Spring Street, Hockley, Birmingham, B18 7LG

Black Church Political Manifesto Discussion with Church Leaders
Monday 12 November 2012, 2-6PM, Leadership Training Centre, N T C G, 1-3 Horseshoe Street, Northampton NN1 1TB
of academics and theologians will be at the Queens Foundation, Edgbaston, Birmingham 2-6pm on 8 October 2012.

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