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18 October 2011

Celebrating Black History

Celebrating Black History

Promoting black history, cultural heritage and raising awareness of the contribution of the black community to society, hundreds of individuals and churches have been celebrating with many recognised for their work in their local areas.

Last week, acknowledged for his community role, Pastor Agu Irukwu, leader of Jesus House Church in London, was nominated for The Mayor of London's most inspirational black people award.

Open until 24th October, nominations have also included other church leaders Rev Nezlin Stirling and Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, speakers chaplain Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Rt Rev Wilfred Wood who were also featured in The Metro's Top Black Heroes. The award nominations cover business, politics, media and the arts covering the last 200 years of black historical achievements. Pastor Agu's church work includes responsible citizen and leaders programmes as well as care for the elderly, young people and vulnerable people in the local area.

General director of the Evangelical Alliance Steve Clifford said of the nomination: "It is so encouraging that some of our key church leaders are recognised in this competition. These are men and women who not only lead churches, but are leaders in their communities. They are an inspiration to men, women and children and this is a great opportunity to support them and celebrate their achievement." 

In the Guardian's dedicated site to Black History Month, both Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are noted as key figures on the black history timeline. Pastor Nims Obumge who led on much of the church peace work following the summer's riots, writes on about the inspiration that his pastor father gave him for his organisation The Peace Alliance:

"He gave me every desire to emulate him, and his life was later to influence my work in The Peace Alliance and my passion to see people from all walks of life succeed despite the odds. Our family prayed together every morning and night. More than anything else my father instilled in us a strong belief that we gain our identity from who we are rather than from other people's assumptions of us."

Birmingham Mail online is carrying a feature on Birmingham's first black minister. Reverend Peter Stanford has been recognised for his work of 120 years on in the city through a blue plaque being unveiled this week. His life is a remarkable story of being born as a slave, kidnapped by native Indians and then going on to be the first black Baptist minister in Birmingham. Rev Stanford was involved in many philanthropic causes in the city. 

Rev Paul Walker, minister at Highgate church in Birmingham, who discovered Stanford's story said: "When I heard about him my first reaction was amazement, followed by disbelief," said Mr Walker. He has teamed up with the city's library to showcase the reverend's life.

And as part of a special edition on the summer riots and focus on Black History Month (BHM) itself, prime minister David Cameron has contributed in Christian magazine Keep the Faith,  writing about the role that faith leaders have to play in guiding people in communities. "I believe faith leaders have a key role to play in instilling this greater sense of right and wrong, he writes "and it is up to us to help in this mission to build a fairer, stronger and more responsible society." 

In Manchester, Bishop Doye Agama from The Apostolic Pastoral Association, will be hosting a delegation of black leaders as part of Black History Month visiting churches in Manchester and London and meeting both the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the Lord Mayor of Manchester. The delegation will also be part of a joint service of ordination and licensing by Black Churches at Manchester Cathedral with Bishop of Manchester Nigel McCulloch.

This week in Reading on Thursday 20th October, Our Lady and St Anne, in South View Avenue, Caversham will be hosting talks on climate change that ties into the month.