Partnership in mission
A Baptist minister's new book highlights the intercultural ecumenism emerging between Black Majority and historic Churches - and challenges Christians to rethink their understanding of mission in light of Britain’s fast-changing social landscape
The future of the UK church is multi-ethnic - and how Black Majority Churches partner in mission with the wider UK church is of chief importance.
That's the view of Baptist minister the Revd Israel Olofinjana, minister of Woolwich Central Baptist and a Nigerian with a Pentecostal background. Israel's latest book Partnership in Mission (Instant Apostle) explores how Black Majority Churches at national, regional and local level are working together in unity and partnership with non-African Christians in the historic and mainstream churches in Britain.
Written from a Black Majority Church perspective, its primary purpose is to look at the "intercultural ecumenism emerging between BMC and historic Churches."
He covers the history and diversity of BMC in London and their development from being migrant sanctuaries to undergoing a theological shift that is enabling them to engage in holistic mission. Readers are invited to jointly experience the riches of multicultural Christian expressions in faith and practice.
In so doing the book asks: 'What is the BMC? How heterogeneous is the movement? What opportunities are there for partnership with the wider church?’
'Church growth in the UK is argued by some commentators to be dominated by the myriad of black majority churches (BMC) which continue to spring up in this country,' stated a press release to accompany the book. 'These churches have played and continue to play a significant role in the history of the British church, encompassing a wide range of theologies, structures, missiologies, cultures and ethnicities.
'Yet many in the wider church are unfamiliar with BMC and while some might welcome the energy and creativity they bring others might equally take the view that they can be divisive.
'Therefore the question of unity and what impact BMC are having in the area of ecumenism, and how they will partner in mission with the wider UK church is of chief importance.
'This book challenges us to rethink our understanding of mission in light of Britain’s fast-changing social landscape. How can Black Majority Churches and other churches partner to effect structural and institutional change in our culturally and ethnically diverse society?'
Israel's previous books have included Turning the Tables on Mission, which documented the experiences of contemporary missionaries from the global south coming to the UK, and Reverse In Ministry And Missions, an historical study of African churches in Europe.
‘Israel’s latest offering goes the extra mile, beyond documentation,' said the Revd Dr Kate Coleman, founder of Next Leadership, and former President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, 'by proposing insightful and pragmatic ways that UK Christians can further express the prophetic nature of what must inevitably be increasingly creative and diverse expressions of mission and ministry in the unfolding history of the United Kingdom.'
The Revd Dr Stephen Holmes, Senior Lecturer in Theology, St Andrews University, added, 'The rise of the BMC, their spread and growth, life and vitality, is the great untold story of British Christianity in the last three decades, and is vital to understanding the current and future shape of the church.
'In this book, Rev Olofinjana proves himself again one of the most capable and lucid interpreters of the BMC scene. Here he turns to ecumenical relationships, particularly to the good things that have happened between BMC and historic churches over the years.’
Extract: Intercultural ecumenism between Black Majority Churches (BMCs) and British Baptists in London