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Israel Oluwole Olofinjana
Pastor of Woolwich Central Baptist Church
I am the founding director of Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World and an ordained and accredited Baptist minister. I am currently the pastor of Woolwich Central Baptist Church, a multi-ethnic, multicultural inner city church in south east London having pastored Crofton Park Baptist Church (2007-2011) and Catford Community Church (2011-2013).
I am a Yoruba Nigerian coming from a Pentecostal background. Before Baptist ministry, I was actively involved in an African Pentecostal church in Nigeria for about ten years. During those years I was involved in three church plants, served as house group leader, Sunday school teacher, evangelism team and deliverance ministry.
Alongside my pastoral ministry I have engaged in teaching, research and publications in Pentecostal studies, contextual theology and mission studies, and in particular have developed and contributed towards a new emerging academic field focusing on African identity and mission in Britain, which I have termed African British Theology.
I am a member of the Global Connections Council and a visiting scholar and trustee of Redcliffe College. I previously served as a member of the Baptist Union Council. I am a Borough Dean in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and also a Baptist District Minister having oversight over about twelve Baptist Churches in Greenwich/Bexley.
BA Honours in Religious Studies
University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Carolina University of Theology (CUT)
- Roles and Responsibilities
I have taught and presented academic papers over the years and till present in numerous Bible Colleges, Universities and denominational and mission training agencies. These include Lambeth Palace (with the archbishop of Canterbury and senior national church leaders from African, Caribbean and Asian churches present), Regents Park College (Oxford University), Cambridge Centre for World Christianity (Westminster College, Cambridge), University of Cardiff, Winchester University, Spurgeon’s College, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Christ Redeemer Bible College, Birmingham Christian College, South London Christian College, Birkbeck University, London School of Economics, Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education (Birmingham), All Nations Christian College, Bristol Baptist College, International Mission Centre (IMC) of Baptist Missionary Society (BMS), London City Mission (LCM) and William Booth Training College.
I have taught courses in church history, intercultural mission, contextual theology and Pentecostal studies. I have also developed a course/module on World Christianity titled: World Christianity in Britain: History and Mission of African Christianity.
I am an ordained and accredited Baptist minister and have being in Baptist ministry for the last ten years. Within those ten years I have served as a Baptist Borough Dean twice, once in Lewisham and then in Greenwich. I was one of a strategic research team of six called the Ignite Team. Our main task was to review Baptist ministry for the 21st century and produce a written report with recommendations, which was presented and circulated within the Baptist Union. We looked at ministerial formation through three key questions: What sort of ministries we will need for the future? What support will these ministries need? Which of these should be done nationally, regionally and locally? The documented report is available online. I have also served on the Baptist Union council.
I am currently serving as one of the Baptist District Ministers in the London Boroughs of Greenwich and Bexley. The role involves having pastoral oversight over approximately 25 Baptist churches across these two boroughs, working alongside a second District Minister. I am part of the Baptist Union Nominations Team. This role involves discerning and networking to ensure the right people are nominated to serve the Baptist Union in various strategic voluntary capacities The role also seeks to ensure that our union becomes multi-ethnic and multicultural in its governance and structures, by selecting and appointing people from different ethnicities, cultures, genders, theological persuasions and class backgrounds.
I have served as a consultant to different Bible Colleges in regards to their teaching curriculum and content. This involves looking at what they are currently teaching and offering insights on what is missing in regards to relevant mission training for the 21st century. All Nations Christian College have sought my expertise in developing a new MA programme in Multicultural Church in Practice. BMS International Mission Centre (IMC) has consulted me in regards to mission training in the UK while African Inland Mission (AIM) have sought my advice in terms of their mission strategy in Africa. Serving in Mission (SIM) with London City Mission (LCM) have consulted me on multi-directional multi-ethnic mission in the UK with particular focus on London. The Evangelical Alliance have also sought my expert opinion on issues of diversity in the work place as it relates to staff appointments at all levels.
Others are Redcliffe College, who in recognition of my expertise in the area of Diaspora Missiology invited me to serve on their Board of Trustees. Society for the Study of Theology (SST), in trying to engage with World Christianity has also asked me to be on their Advisory Board. Roehampton University’s newly formed Centre for Pentecostalism and Community Engagement have also sought my involvement with the project. I have journeyed with Salvation Army for three months helping them to think critically about intercultural mission and how that should affect how they see and welcome migrants and also develop multi-ethnic leadership and churches.
As the founding director of Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World which pioneers intercultural training of missionaries to Europe from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America, I am involved in developing relevant research and writing on World Christianities in Britain. The work of the centre facilitates conversations on multicultural churches and intercultural mission. Since its inception in 2013, we have organised six mission conferences around the UK and developed short term training for ministers on reverse mission. Average attendance at our conferences has been around 70 people. Themes and subject addressed include Growing Multi-ethnic churches, cross-cultural mission, Partnership in Mission, World Theologies and Mission and Migration www.cmmw.co.uk
I am also on the editorial board of Missio Africanus: Journal of African Missiology which pioneers research and writing in the area of African Christianity and Theology in Britain http://missioafricanus.org/missio-africanus-journal-of-african-missiology/
I was approached to assist the Open University in their research project Building on History: Religion in London which encourages different religious groupings in London to write and preserve their history. My role included writing a history of Black Majority Churches in London. More details about the project are available here: www.open.ac.uk/Arts/religion-in-london/resource-guides/black-majority-church.htm
I was a member of the panel of reference of Being Built Together, a joint research project organized by Roehampton University, Churches Together in South London and Southwark for Jesus. The research conducted investigates the history and practices of the New Black Majority Churches (NBMC) in the borough of Southwark. My role involved giving an expert opinion on Black Majority Churches.
- Research Interests
My research and writings have help developed and contributed towards a new emerging academic field, which I have termed African British Theology (See my latest edited book, African Voices: Towards African British Theologies, 2017). While this is similar and related to Black British Theologies developed by the likes of Roswith Gerloff, Robert Beckford and Anthony Reddie since the 1990s, it is also distinct focusing on African identity and mission in Britain. It is a contextual theology addressing existential realities of African migrants in Britain. It is also a Diaspora Missiology critically examining African mission in Britain.
As an African Practical Theologian, my research interests and area of specialisation include: Intercultural Mission (With a focus on the reverse mission of African churches in Europe); Church History (particularly African Pentecostal church history and History of Black Majority Churches); Contextual Theology, Biblical hermeneutics and Christian apologetics. For almost a decade I researched Nigerian Pentecostal history, resulting in my 2011 book 20 Pentecostal Pioneers in Nigeria. I also have a blog which I use in reflecting and writing research materials on various subjects such as Black Majority Churches, mission, African history and theology, multiculturalism, ecumenism, Baptist ministry and Pentecostalism. This has led to articles being commissioned by Ethics Daily.com (An American based online academic resource for Baptists) and other websites.
I have had various research students at undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral studies consult me on their research relating to African Christianity and mission in the diaspora. Students have come from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of Roehampton, Christ Redeemer Bible College, University of Birmingham, University of Greenwich, Canterbury Christ Church and Oak Hill Theological College. I have given constructive and critical feedback on PhD research proposals, dissertations and post graduate essays.
I am interested in supporting research students in the following areas: Diaspora Missiology; Contextual Theology; African Theology; African Pentecostalism; Black Majority Churches; Practical Theology; World Christianity; Missiology; African Christianity; Development of Multi-ethnic and Multicultural Churches.
I have presented some of my research work on various radio shows about multiculturalism, Black Majority Churches, reverse mission and Pentecostalism. These include Premier Christian Radio, BBC Radio Leicester, BBC Radio West Midlands, Together in Ministry radio, Colourful Radio, Trans World Radio (TWR), UCB and the Renewed Mind podcast. I have also featured on BBC Songs of Praise, giving an expert opinion on Black Pentecostal Churches in the UK. One of my published articles the History of Black Pentecostal Churches in Britain was also quoted in The Times Newspaper page 4 on the 28th March 2016. I have been consulted on a number of occasions by the BBC and Channel 4 on documentaries relating to Black Majority Churches and Reverse Mission. In recognition of my contribution to mission, I received an award for Persevering in Mission at the Ministers’ Appreciation Ball in 2016. This is an award for an outstanding person who has made significant contributions to the mission scene in the UK.
Partnership in Mission: A Black Majority Perspective on Mission and Church Unity, London, Instant Apostle, 2015.
20 Pentecostal Pioneers in Nigeria, Bloomington, Indiana, Xlibris, 2011.
Reverse in Ministry and Missions: Africans in the Dark Continent of Europe An Historical Study of African Churches in Europe , Milton Keynes, Author House, 2010.
Currently working as the editor on World Christianity in Europe: Diaspora Identity, Narratives and Missiology (2019).
Israel Olofinjana (ed), African Voices: Towards African British Theologies (Langham Global Library, 2017).
Steve Finamore and Israel Olofinjana (eds), Moving Stories: The Bible and Migration A Series of Bible Study Reflections (Published by the Baptist Union, 2017).
Joe Kapolyo, Faith Bowers and Israel Olofinjana (eds), Encountering London: London Baptists in the 21st Century, (London, Tyndale Press, 2015).
Israel Olofinjana (ed), Turning the Tables on Mission: Stories of Christians from the Global South in the UK, London, Instant Apostle, 2013
'Public Leadership and African Churches in the United Kingdom' in R. Drew Smith, Stephanie C. Boddie, Ronald E. Peters (eds), Ministry Beyond the Walls: Urban Contexts and Considerations (Louisville, Kentucky, Westminister John Knox Press, 2018).
'Migration and the Mission of God' in Steve Finamore and Israel Olofinjana (eds), Moving Stories: The Bible and Migration, (Published by the Baptist Union, 2017).
'Reverse Mission: Mission Contributions of Africans within the London Baptist Association (LBA)' in Faith Bowers, Joe Kapolyo and Israel Olofinjana (eds) Encountering London: London Baptist in the 21st Century, (London Tyndale Press, 2015), 203-213.
'Historical Development of Black Pentecostal Churches in Britain' in Faith Bowers, Joe Kapolyo and Israel Olofinjana (eds) Encountering London: London Baptist in the 21st Century, (London Tyndale Press, 2015), pp. 136-145.
'The Significance of Multicultural Churches in Britain: A Case study of Crofton Park Baptist Church' in R Drew Smith, William Ackah and Anthony G Reddie (eds) Churches, Blackness and Contested Multiculturalism, (New York, NY, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 75-86.
'Nigerian Pentecostals in Britain: Towards Prosperity or Consumerism?' In Afe Adogame (eds), The Public Face of African New Religious Movements in Diaspora, (Surrey, England, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2014), pp. 233-253.
'Biography of the Rev Dr Mojola Agbebi' in Gale Richards, Text and Stories: Prophets for their Time and ours, (Oxford, Centre for Baptist History and Heritage Studies Occasional Papers, Volume 9, Regents Park College, 2014), pp.14-20.
‘The Impact of Black Majority Churches in Britain’, The Bible in Transmission: Challenging Church Growth, Change and Diversity, Bible Society Journal, Spring 2018, pp. 11-13.
‘Historical Development of Black Pentecostal Churches in Britain: A Case Study of Apostolic Pastoral Congress (APC)’, Missio Africanus Journal: Journal of African Missiology, Vol 1, Issue 2 2059-173X, January 2016. http://missioafricanus.org/missio-africanus-journal-of-african-missiology/
‘Celebrating the Life of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther’, Missio Africanus Journal: Journal of African Missiology, Vol 1, Issue 1 2059-173X, April 2015. http://missioafricanus.org/missio-africanus-journal-of-african-missiology/
'Reverse Missions: The Emergence of African Churches in Europe’ in Kunle Dada (ed), Orita: Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies, published by the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, XLV/1&2, June and December 2013, pp. 133-154.
‘Baptiscostal Congregations’, Baptist Ministers’ Journal, Volume 318, April 2013, pp. 27-28.
‘Why the KJV is so popular among Black Christians’, Baptist Ministers’ Journal, Volume 3011, July 2011, pp. 9-11.
‘Mission in Reverse’, Baptist Ministers Journal, Volume 307, July 2010, pp. 11-16.
Recent Online Contributions
‘The Big Picture: Don’t forget to Partner with the Global South’, Arab World Ministries Link Magazine, May 2018, pp. 5-7.
‘Shift in World Christianity’, World Anglican.com, https://www.worldanglican.com/... 23rd March 2018.
‘African Theology and the Supernatural Worldview’, Catalyst, (Baptist Missionary Society publication) Issue 1 2018, pp.8-9.
‘Tithing: How should we do it?’, Idea, The Magazine of the Evangelical Alliance, Nov/Dec 2017, p. 14.
‘Communities of Hope’, Friday Night Theology (Evangelical Alliance), http://www.eauk.org/culture/friday-night-theology/communities-of-hope.cfm 23rd June 2017.
‘Reverse Missiology: An Introduction’, Global Connections Blog, http://www.gc-connect.org.uk/reverse-missiology-an-introduction/ 16th June 2017.
‘A need for multi-ethnic churches in a post Brexit-Britain’, Baptist Together: The magazine of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Summer 2017, p. 34.
‘A Dummies Guide to Reverse Mission’, Great Commission website of the Evangelical Alliance, https://greatcommission.co.uk/a-dummies-guide-to-reverse-mission 26th April 2017.
‘Multi-ethnic Churches: A Gospel Imperative in a Post Brexit British Society’, Global Connections Blog, http://www.gc-connect.org.uk/multi-ethnic-churches-a-gospel-imperative-in-a-post-brexit-british-society/ 27th February 2017.
‘Multi-ethnic Churches: A Gospel Imperative in a Post Brexit World’, Baptist Times, http://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/488806/Multi_ethnic_Churches.aspx 23rd January 2017.