Black Church leaders and Ofcom discuss broadcasting standards in relation to miraculous signs and wonders ministries (Press Statement 24th April 2013)

 

Leaders of Britain’s Black churches met recently with standards executives from Ofcom, the broadcasting standards watchdog, in a landmark meeting.  The meeting was called by Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs (MECA) of Churches at Together in England (CTE) in light of recent concerns that Pentecostal ministries in miraculous signs and wonders could be endangering lives.    

In a wide ranging discussion Ofcom explained its legal remit to regulate UK-based TV and radio broadcasters in a manner that protects the public from harm, or offence, while not interfering with legitimate rights to freedom of religious expression.  The Ofcom executives heard from black church leaders who support their work; and others who questioned the need for such a body.  Some wanted to know if Ofcom is trying to suppress religious expression particularly among BME faith communities.    

‘The presentation from Ofcom was informative and indeed an eye opener. It is in the interest of our churches, as we grow exponentially, to ensure that we operate within the law of the land with sensitivity whilst not compromising our (biblical) belief in divine healing’, said Rev Nezlin Sterling, Director of Studies at the New Testament Assembly.  

Church leaders sought assurance that Ofcom does not have an agenda to undermine the Christian faith, particularly black Christian faith, through its codes of practice. Ofcom’s executives made clear their largely complaints-led role is to ensure broadcasters stay within the guidelines set out in their charter to protect the public from harm and exploitation.    

Commenting on the meeting, Dr Michel Sacramento, President of Pastorale Francophone UK said, ‘Far from hindering our mission for broadcasting the message of the Gospel, the Ofcom regulations may help spur evangelical broadcasters into developing more imaginative ways of communicating the Gospel to a cosmopolitan audience, taking into consideration the peculiarities of the environment in which it is articulated.  The challenges we now face may turn into blessings as we grow stronger in effectiveness and scope’.    

Church leaders in their concluding discussions agreed that whilst freedom of religious expression is a right, claims about miraculous healings must not be made lightly or without corroboration.  Listeners to this type of broadcast should be encouraged to seek medical advice before making any change to their treatment regimes.  Ofcom and Black Church Leaders agreed to continue to dialogue.  

End Notes:

  • Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs (MECA) is an arm of Churches Together in England (CTE) that works closely with members and non-members of the national ecumenical instrument towards a Church in which Black and other Minority Ethnic (BME) Christian communities play their full part in the proclamation of the Christian Gospel.
  • Contact: Bishop Dr Joe Aldred 07775 632288 or email joe.aldred@cte.org.uk
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About israelolofinjana

Rev Israel Oluwole Olofinjana is an ordained and accredited Baptist minister and has pastored Crofton Park Baptist Church (2007-2011) and Catford Community Church (2011-2013). He is currently the pastor of Woolwich Central Baptist Church, a multicultural church in south east London. He is Nigerian coming from a Pentecostal background. He holds a BA (Hons) in Religious Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and MTh from Carolina University of Theology (CUT). Israel is the editor of “Turning the Tables on Mission: Stories of Christians from the Global South in the UK” and author of “Reverse in Ministry and Missions: Africans in the Dark Continent of Europe” and “20 Pentecostal Pioneers in Nigeria” He has spoken in a number of conferences regarding reverse mission and Black Majority Churches (BMCs) and has also contributed to academic journals and Christian magazines on the subject of Black Majority Churches (BMC) in Britain. He is currently co-opted as a member of the Baptist Union Council. Israel is also one of the Directors of Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World an initiative design to train and equip pastors and missionaries from the South. He is a member of the Global Connections council. When he is not preaching or writing he is playing with Lego! He is happily married to Lucy who works as an administrator and research co-ordinator for the Evangelical Alliance. She is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), earning a BA in Social Anthropology and International Development. Lucy loves baking and watching movies!
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