THE solitary letter
ather than wear it as a mark of shame, we keep the page to the left as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to address a seeming cultural preference for commenting by mouth rather than by the written word, as it remains the only piece of written feedback on our content we have received from a reader over the course of our ten-year existence. Admittedly, it came as no surprise that it was in response to a piece featured in the November 2008 edition of Outflow that presented a largely unenthusiastic take on the Obama election, given the divisive nature of that debate. Due to the undoubtedly historic nature of the event, the more indifferent of the editorial board consented to a pro-Obama approach in the October 2008 edition, with the agreement that we would provide a more balanced argument in the following edition. It was this ‘balanced argument’ our reader objected to, and we printed both her objection and our response in the January 2009 edition. Despite the slightly critical nature of its content, this correspondence retains a dear place in the team’s heart, though we’ve reprinted it partly to encourage other readers to help release it from its solitary confinement. Please send your comments and feedback on anything Outflow-related to email@example.com.
moments in church history Significant milestones during the publication’s ten years
From the moment that the royal visit was announced – I for one could hardly contain my ebullience - in the words of Pastor Agu these were truly ‘exciting times’.
BY GILLIAN KING WITH NATALIE CLUE “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you…Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” - Isaiah 60:1&3 (NIV)
ow awesome it is when scripture is fulfilled in your life! For the Jesus House family the scripture from the prophet Isaiah came to pass on Wednesday November 14th 2007 when TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited the church. This
here was such stunned disbelief in the air when Pastor Agu Irukwu announced to the volunteer work force that Their Royal Highnesses (TRH) The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were to visit Jesus House that Pastor had to remind them to applaud. This sentiment was echoed by Deacon A y o Adedoyin when he was asked how he felt when he first heard about the visit. “An element of disbelief quickly followed by the realisation that there will be a lot of work to be done!”
This was of course confirmed by the entourage that visited from Clarence House (the Prince’s official residence in London). Deacon Adedoyin met with His Royal Highness’ principal private secretary and personal assistant, two press officers, his security detail, two others from the Bishop of London’s office and the Lord Lieutenant of Barnet. The purpose of the meeting was to plan the itinerary.
All hands were on deck as everyone pulled out all the stops to make sure the excellence of God was evident on the day. “It was challenging because I wanted to give my best,” said Dapo Oyetunji, the church’s inhouse graphic designer, who worked on the welcome posters designed by Outflow’s very own ‘Lanre Iroche. They were so impressive that the Duchess made a request to take them home! Dapo certainly had his wish. “I wanted
The Prince was extremely interested in the work that the youth were doing on behalf of Jesus House. As Pastor Agu introduced us, he greeted us with a humble smile and a firm handshake. Representing the youth were Tope Chiedozie, Ebere Ikeogu, Ronke Adekambi, Token and myself.
by Hassan Sulaiman
e were both excited and intrigued about our pre-arranged meeting with the Prince. The encounter was certainly one to remember.
welcoming delegates converged on the lobby to witness the arrival was the swoosh of the timely arrival of TRH’s Bentley at the Jesus House entrance. The lobby, which had by this time been cleared of the metal detectors and airport-style luggage scanners that had been up from 8 o’clock that morning, was hushed and sparklingly bright, with sunshine streaming through the glass doors, as the much anticipated visit got under way.
Carpets were replaced, furniture reupholstered and offices renovated as the day drew close. Everything had to be just right.
Setting the scene…
reparation started very early on the morning of the visit as everyone who entered the building had to be vetted and the building ‘swept’ by special police officers, accompanied by sniffer dogs. Jesus House’s Fire Marshall, Amanda Richbell, was on hand to help the process go smoothly. She arrived at 6:30am to allow the police access to all the areas that needed to be searched before anyone was in the building. She worked with the police to ensure that fire alarms tested were and all the fire and emergency exits were clear. The police expressed how impressed they were with the level of professionalism and excellence and even sought out Amanda afterwards to say ‘thank you’. “I think we ministered to the police in the way we worked,” she said, adding that, “One of the female officers commented on the way my friend and I greeted each other with a hug and a kiss. I think the way we worked ministered to them.”
t was 10:25am exactly on Wednesday 14 November 2007 that Their Royal Highnesses arrived at Jesus House. Already seated in the worship centre were around 800 invited guests, but movement all over the building had ceased and the only sound as the press and the
Pastor Agu walked outside to receive the Prince and the Duchess and accompanied HRH as he greeted and chatted cheerfully with the civic line-up, while Pastors Shola and Funke Adeaga, head of Jesus House’s Member-Facing Departments, received the Duchess. The civic line-up was made
She was shown around by Alison Shakespeare, the manager of the nursery, and she spent considerable time chatting with the children and joining in their games. The children were comfortable in spite of the obvious press presence, including flash photography, and chatted away happily, seemingly oblivious to the presence of the august visitor. Afterwards, Alison expressed her delight at having the honour of showing the duchess around. “She was really interested in what the children were doing. She compared the children to her own granddaughter. She was very attentive to the children; she wanted to know their names and what they were doing. She got down [on her knees] to their level. It means she really cares.”
His Royal Highness has made a very good gesture by coming here on his birthday [when] He could have been anywhere. This is a new day and a new dawn for the black church.” - Pastor Jonathan
up of local representatives, including the Mayoress of Barnet, the Lord Lieutenant of Barnet, Martin Russell, and the Bishop of London. The royal couple had come to Jesus House on the suggestion of the Bishop of London, The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Richard John Carew Chartres, who went to university with the Prince and is Dean of HM Chapel Royals. The Bishop thought Jesus House was the perfect place for him to celebrate his 59th birthday. The Prince had become aware, through the Bishop, of the significant community work the Black Majority Churches were involved in all over the Capital and had come to see how the church leaders could collaborate with his Prince’s Trust to enhance the work being done for young people in the community. While the Prince met with the 16 church leaders, which included Pastor Agu, Joel Edwards (Director General of the Evangelical Alliance), Pastor Jonathan Oloyede of Glory House and Reverend Rose Anderson of Holy Trinity, Dalston and All Saints Haggerston in Hackney, as well
The Duchess then went on to meet the church office staff and some volunteers of the various community projects run by Jesus House. She met Abubakar Mohammed, who is an instructor at the Novo Centre, the drop-in centre for young people on the Graeme Park estate. When he was presented to her, she said to him, “You must be very busy.” “Yes, we keep them out of mischief,” he replied. She also met Ronke Adekanmbi, Hassan Sulaiman and Tope Chiedozie, who help run the ACES (African Caribbean Education) project founded by Donia Narh and sponsored by Jesus House which is a school and community project aimed at teaching children of Afro-Caribbean heritage about their culture with a view to raising their selfesteem and consequently, their academic achievements. The Duchess spent some time talking to the youth workers as this is an area of particular interest to TRH. “I think you are doing a fantastic job!” she told them at the end of the comparatively long discourse. Later Ronke, herself a beneficiary of a grant from the Prince’s Trust, said, “She was great! Cool, just very interested. She actually knows quite a bit about the youth, what they need and how it’s important for young people to be helped by young people.”
The Prince showed he had a great sense of humour when Pastor Agu introduced Tope as a musician. He asked Tope “What type of music do you [perform]?” When Tope replied “garage” he looked puzzled replying “What makes that different? Is it faster or slower?” When Tope replied “faster” the Prince laughed and enlightened us with a little dance to show us that he too could groove. Each one of us was asked about the projects we were running as a group, whether we were making an impact and whether or not we worked in schools. With all the answers to his questions being “yes”, he expressed how pleased he was to hear that we are helping to improve our community. He showed knowledge and awareness of the issues that young people are faced with in society today and reiterated the need for role models. His deep knowledge of the issues we are faced with was surprising, as young people would think that a prince would have better things to do than to worry about their issues. He offered the help of his fund to help us in whichever area it could prove useful. The encounter was certainly an experience I will not forget; his humility was perhaps the most intriguing part of his character. The Duchess of Cornwall was equally amazing. We held a conversation with her for almost 10 minutes. For someone from the royal family to speak to us for that length of time says an awful lot about her character and her willingness to take an interest in the youth. She laughed, joked and expressed her point of view on how we could make a positive impact on society. She opined that “it will take young people to help young people and not uptight adults who have no idea of the issues that [they] are faced with.”
The Duchess appeared to enjoy the visit
The preparation was extensive and thorough, and it seems
to give my best,” he added. “[To] do something really excellent that would stand out!”
as the Bishop of London, the Duchess spent the time with the children in Kidz First nursery.
And so the ball was set rolling for the v i s i t of the future Monarch to Jesus House for all nations.
10 minutes with Their Royal Highnesses
This is a historic day. A partnership has been exemplified in His Royal Highness coming to a Black majority Church.” - Reverend Joel Edwards
The first meeting was a ‘recce’ (a military term for reconnaissance), a walkthrough of the event, which was later fleshed out in partnership with all those present. Despite Pastor Agu and Jesus House’s Chief Operations Officer, Pastor Shola Adeaga, being away at the time, Deacon A d e d o y i n handled the meeting with a p l o m b , as Pastor Agu later testified.
impossible to imagine that Deaconess Sola Kujore, head of events and conferencing at Jesus House, and her team got any sleep at all in the runup to the visit. When asked what she enjoyed most about the preparations she said, “The adrenalin rush of dashing around to make sure TRH had everything they needed to make their visit as comfortable as possible.”
An Audience with Royalty T
momentous occasion served a dual purpose; to affirm the positive contribution of the Black Majority Church to the nation’s seemingly ailing spirituality and to join the Prince in celebrating his 59th birthday!
OUTFLOW 15 OUTFLOW DECEMBER OCTOBER2007 2007 15
ew events in the church’s history are comparable to the visit of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on Wednesday 14th November 2007, an event made doubly significant by the fact that the date marked Prince Charles’ 59th birthday and he chose to spend it morning on the Jesus House premises. The event was extensively covered in a Special Edition of the magazine, released the month after the couple’s visit. Also included in this edition were profiles of the African nations of Tanzania, South Africa and Kenya, all of which celebrate their independence in December, and a special oneoff Christmas Gazette highlighting ways to get involved in the church’s Christmas activities.