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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)
PhD 2021 University of Roehampton
- 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.
- Unbroken: Healing for Your Brokenness
- The Love Remedy: The Cure for our Racially Divided World (LA, CA: Alliance Publishers, 2021
- Pentecostalism: Insight from Africa and the African Diaspora (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2018)
- With Lord Donkor, African Mission Maturing ((Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2018)
- The Islamic Dilemma, (Houston: High Bridge Books, 2016)
- Pentecostal Theology in Africa (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2013)
- African Christology: Jesus in Post-Missionary Africa (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2011)
- Global Renewal, Religious Pluralism, and The Great Commission. (Lexington, KY: Emeth Academic Press, 2011)
- The Reason Why We Sing: Introducing Black Pentecostal Spirituality (Cambridge: Grove Books, 1997).
- The 21st Century Christian Leader (Birmingham UK: Majestic Christian Press, 1998)
- Taking Control of Your Destiny (Majestic Press UK: Majestic Christian Press, 2000)
- Called to Serve (Accra: Step Publishers, 2007).
- Unleashing your Purpose (Global Empowerment Network Press, 2015)
Journal articles and chapters
- 'Ogbu Kalu and Africa's Christianity: A Tribute Essay' in Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies Vol. 32, Number 1 (2010), 107-120.
- 'Old Wine and New Wine Skins: West Indian and the New West African Pentecostal Churches in Britain and the Challenge of Renewal' in the Journal of Pentecostal Theology Vol. 19, Number 1 (2010), 143-154.
- Trans-denominational Mission, Black and White Christian Partnership Publication (1997), pp. 10-14
- Christ in Africa, Journal of Theology and Religion. Vol. 1:No.1 (2000), pp. 2-12.
- Towards an Oral Christology among African Indigenous Church in Ghana, Journal of Asian Missions, Vol. 6:2, (2004), pp. 245-264.
- Post-missionary African Indigenous Christology in Journal of African Christian Thought. Vol. 8, No. 1, (June 2005), pp. 321
- Towards a Functional Christology Among African Indigenous Churches in Ghana. Mission Studies: Journal of the International Association for Mission Studies, Vol. 22, No. 2 (2005), pp. 287- 318. Also published in Missionalia, Vol. 33, no.1, (April 2005), pp. 138-165.
- Christological Construction Among Ghanaian AICs, in Africa. Theological Journal. Vol. 28, No. 2 (2005), pp. 23-41.
- African Indigenous Churches in Ghana: Past, Present and Future. Journal of African Indigenous Church Theology. Vol.2:1 (2005), pp. 5-16.
- In Our Mother Tongue: Vernacular Hermeneutics within African Initiated Christianity in Ghana. Trinity Journal of Church and Theology, Vol. XV, no. 2 (July 2005), pp. 52-68.
- African Epistemology and the Christian Faith: Towards the Epistemic Use of Orality and Symbolism in African Christian Scholarship. Journal of African Christian Thought. Vol. 9. No. 1 (June 2006), pp.56-64.
- Christology in African Indigenous Churches in Ghana. Missionalia. Vol. 34 No. 2/3 (August /November 2006), pp. 285-309
- ‘Jesus of the Deep Forest: Ghanaian view of Jesus Christ as the Fearless One, the Earth-keeper, the Healer and Redeemer.’ Published on CMS website on Tuesday, September 18, 2007
- ‘Pan-Africanism and Pentecostalism in Africa: Strange Bedfellows or Perfect Partners? A Pentecostal Assist towards a Pan-African Political Theology.’ Black Theology. An International Journal, Volume 11, Number 2 / 2013
- “Spirit Filled Mission,” pp. 147 – 171. In Supernatural Missions, edited by Randy Clark (Mechanicsburg. PA: Global Awakening, 2012).
- “Old and New Wine Skin: West Indian and the New West Africa Pentecostal Churches in Britain and the Challenge of Renewal” in The Many faces of Global Pentecostalism, ed. Harold Hunter, 2013.
- “Nigeria Pentecostalism and Islam: Towards a Pentecostalized Vision of Interreligious Coexistence through Ubuntu Philosophy”, in Yong and Vinson Synan, eds Global Renewal Christianity (Lake Mary Florida: Charisma House, 2016), Chapter 19.
- “Charlottesville and White Supremacy”, in Christianity Today, September 2017
- “Shalom Justice”, in Fuller Magazine, September 2017 Issue.
- “Healing in African Christian Spirituality: A Holistic, Integrated and Multi-dimensional Approach”, in Fuller Magazine, July 2018 Issue.
- With Marcia Clarke,“Church Unity and the Spirit of Ubuntu: Insights from the Global South,” in Pentecostal Theology and Ecumenical Theology: Interpretations, Intersections, and Inspirations, Edited by Peter Hocken, Tony L. Richie, and Christopher A. Stephenson (Brill Academic Press, 2019).