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New staff significantly expand black majority church expertise

Three significant new staff appointments at the University of Roehampton are expected to greatly enhance the University’s expertise with black majority churches, providing a richer education for students.

Posted: 5 November 2014

image for news story  New staff significantly expand black majority church expertise
Dr David Muir will be teaching professional practice on Ministerial Theology courses

Dr R David Muir has joined the department as a permanent lecturer in professional practice, focussing on Pentecostal history and spirituality, political theology, ministry formation and systematic theology. He is joined by Dr Joe Aldred, a bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy who is an honorary research fellow, and Dr Babatunde Adedibu, a senior figure in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, who is a visiting lecturer and also an honorary research fellow.

Ministerial Theology at Roehampton is believed to be the largest UK university provider of theological education for students from African and Caribbean majority churches.

In total six academics are actively researching issues related to black majority churches and more than 120 students from these churches are currently studying at Roehampton, alongside students from many other denominations.

The department’s most high profile research currently focuses on how new black majority churches, historic churches, and planning authorities can work together to address the shortage of suitable places of worship.

Professor Trevor Dean, Head of the University’s Department of Humanities, said: “There has been an explosion in the number of black majority churches, in London especially, in the last few years, and we’re seeing considerable demand for teaching as a result. Congregations are growing every year and thanks to David, Bishop Joe and Babatunde, plus our existing team, we are well placed to provide our students with the latest thinking from knowledgeable experts, who will help to form the next generation of ministers and academics.

“All three have extensive research experience as well as having ministered to their congregations, which gives them first-hand experience to draw on. Experts who have been ‘in the field’ bring real depth to their teaching, which benefits students hugely.”

Other research carried out by academics at the University has found there are more than 240 new black majority churches in the London Borough of Southwark, probably the largest concentration of African churches in the world outside of Africa. The research also highlighted evidence of significant numbers in other London Boroughs, with over 200 documented in Newham.

The news comes shortly after the Church of England’s Bishop of Kingston-upon-Thames, Dr Richard Cheetham, was named as a professorial fellow at the University’s Whitelands College. Bishop Richard will also contribute to Ministerial Theology teaching.

The University of Roehampton offers various qualifications from foundation to master’s level in Christian Ministry, Christian Theology and Religious Studies. Three of the university’s four founding colleges were established by Christian groups. Southlands College was founded by Methodists in the 1870s, Digby Stuart College by Roman Catholics also in the 1870s, and Whitelands by Anglicans in 1841.

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