The past two weeks have been very significant in the life of the Black Majority Churches. The 22nd of June marks the 65 years anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush at Tilbury in London which carried about 493 Carribean from West Indies. Majority were ex-servicemen who were returning to Britain to help build the mother country after the devastation of the Second Wolrd War. To remember and as well celebrate this occassion there was a Windrush service of Thanksgiving at Bloomsbury Baptist Church in London. The second event is the passing away of Dr Tayo Adeyemi on the 30th June after a prolonged illness. Dr Adeyemi is the founder and Senior Pastor of New Wine Church in Woolwich, south east London. I will like to at this stage give my condolences to the wife and 3 children of Dr Adeyemi and pray that God will grant them peace and grace at this difficult time. These events are very significant in the life of our black churches, one looks to the past to remember the struggles of black people and the pioneers of the black church while the other although sad, reflects on the success of Black Majority Churches. In essence one is about the past and the other is about the present and the future. They are significantly connected because the Windrush generation is the genesis of the Black Majority Churches which laid the foundation and paved the way for the success of African Churches that later developed in the 1990s.
Although the Windrush generation did not give birth to the first Black Majority Churches but it was that generation that accelerated the growth and progress of these churches. The first Black Majority Churches are Summner Road Chapel founded in Peckham south east London in 1906 by Rev Kwame Brem-Wilson. The second is African Churches Mission (ACM) founded by Daniel Ekarte in Liverpool in 1931. These are antecedents of Black Majority Churches as many of them did not start until 1948 when Empire Windrush arrived. The first of the Caribbean Pentecostal Churches was the Calvary Church of God in Christ which started in London in 1948. The church became affiliated with Church of God in Christ, USA in 1952. New Testament Church of God was founded in 1953 as well as Church of God of Prophecy. Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic was founded in 1955, Wesleyan Holiness Church which used to be called Pilgrims Holiness Church was founded in 1958, New Testament Assembly was founded in 1961 and many others. These churches provided home away from home for the many Caribbean who were rejected by the society as well as the church, although it must be cautioned that some churches accepted them into fellowship. The struggles, frustrations and pains that these churches went through later paid off as they soon grow in numbers to become large churches, church denominations, some set up mission agencies and ecumenical instruments to build relationships with the government and the wider Church in the UK. These churches provided and met the spiritual, economical and social concerns of Black and Ethnic Minority people. They also provided security, education and welfare needs of their people. These are needs that were not met elsewhere either by the wider Church or the government. At the service at Bloomsbury, Samuel King, the first black Mayor of Southwark and one of the people that came on Empire Windrush in 1948 shared his experiences about how life was very difficult in those days in terms of education, accommodation and finding jobs. You can watch a short video of the event here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D05nkyfqjgE&feature=youtu.be
The successes of the Windrush generation laid the foundation for the coming of the first set of African Churches in the 1960s. These were the African Initiated Churches (AICs). The 1980s and the 1990s saw the emergence and growth of African Neo-Pentecostal Churches. It is these types of churches that have grown to become mega churches in the major cities of Britain. One of these churches was certainly New Wine Church founded by Dr Tayo Adeyemi. Dr Adeyemi was born in Leeds, England to Nigerian parents in 1964. He left England at an early age for Nigeria were he had all his formal education graduating as a medical doctor. While studying at University he became a Christian and was actively involved in setting up a student Christian fellowship which became a movement all over Nigerian Universities. He was later involved and instrumental in setting up three chapters of the Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship (FGBMF).
Dr Adeyemi later came back to the UK to pursue a career in medicine. It was in the midst of this pursuit that he heard God’s call to full time ministry. His obedience led to the start of New Wine Church in 1993. New Wine Church since then has grown to become one of the mega churches in Britain having about 3, 000 members. Dr Tayo Adeyemi will be remembered as one of the dynamic church leaders and visionary in the 21st century . His ministry spanned beyond Britain as he ministered in several other countries including India, Malaysia, Kenya, Cote d’ Ivoire, Tanzania, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Holland and United Sates of America. May his soul rest in perfect peace. If you would like to give a tribute to Dr Adeyemi please follow this link http://www.newwine.co.uk/church/our-pastor