Following the arrival of the ship Windrush to England with immigrants from the Caribbean Commonwealth in 1948, the door was now widely opened for other migrants desirous of a better life to do the same. In the 1950’s a significant number of Apostolic believers grasped the opportunity and migrated to the United Kingdom; bringing with them not only a strong sense of purpose, but also their faith in God. Their intention was to work in the UK for a short while and then to return home. At this time the host population was unreceptive to the new arrivals and made it difficult for them to worship according to their faith and in a style that was culturally relevant to them. However, their faith remained strong and a small number of believers; namely, Brother and Sister Lawrence and Sister Lesme Wilson were fellowshipping at the home of the late Deacon Gayle.
They were joined by Brother Richard Henry Wray who had arrived from Jamaica in 1955. Later, the group found rented accommodation at St. Peter’s Hall in Stonebridge, London. They had to thoroughly clean the hall and prepare lamps each time in preparation for worship, due to the fact that the hall was used to train dogs. Credit must indeed be given to Sister Ramsay and Sister Wilkins who were faithful in doing so. This assembly of saints were now pastored by the late Elder Robinson and affiliated to First United Church of Jesus Christ presided over by Bishop Sydney Alexander Dunn and under the regional auspices of Overseer Martin Simmonds at the time. The Church by now had generously pooled their financial resources and was able to purchase St. Peter’s Hall. They were also in a position to ensure that the church environment was now more suitable to them.
Brother Wray, who was formerly a member of the Beulah Apostolic Church in Greenhill, St Ann’s, Jamaica suggested using the same name to identify the church here. Following Godly discussion the Group deemed it to be an appropriate name for the Church.
The name ‘Beulah’ is derived from the Old Testament scriptures in the book of Isaiah and means “married” in Hebrew. It is used symbolically to refer to the land of Israel (Isaiah 62:4). This place name became common in English speaking countries after the Reformation of 1517 – 1648. In the Bible, Beulah is a name symbolic of the heavenly Zion.
So, the Beulah Church of God in Christ Jesus (Apostolic) was now established in the United Kingdom. The mission was and still is, to promote the Kingdom of God by preaching and teaching the word of God as was taught and revealed by the Holy Ghost, while embracing it as doctrine, creed, discipline and rules of conduct.
Beulah provided a place where individuals could worship collectively, gain spiritual strength, share their stories, learn and develop skills in an informal setting and be readied to serve the wider community. The spiritual fervour inherent within Beulah, tangibly
impacted, inspired and influenced many others to the Lord Jesus Christ. Beulah has birthed many sons and daughters, now located nationally and internationally.
During the time at Stonebridge, a vibrant Youth Department was established, with its first President being Minister Lanford Gregory. The young people were on fire for God and there was a genuine love and concern for each other. A Young People’s Choir was also started. It was directed by Sister Elfreda Clarke and later on Sister Ileen Mitchell. At the time, Minister Gregory was also the guitarist, with support from Brother Roy Cameron and Brother Danny Deidrick and later on by Brother Headley Dunkley. This anointed choir was invited to sing at many places in London, Luton and the Midlands from the early 1970’s onwards. It was a pleasure for them to serve. They were indeed very blessed.
The Church, now affiliated with Church of God in Christ (Apostolic) was privileged to host the International Youth Congress in 1972, with delegates arriving from the United States. Young people such as Sister Audrey Dunkley, Brother Tony Peart and Sister Jean Blackstock, from Beulah in later years travelled to Toronto, Canada and Sister Audrey Linton, Sister Ileen Mitchell and Sister Rosemary Powell to New York, USA for the same event another time.
By 1972, The Beulah Church had become a National Organisation with churches located in Lancashire, Bedfordshire, The Midlands and Greater London.
Also, a Bible Study curriculum developed by the late Bishop Coleman, from the USA was instituted during this time and taught by Bishop Anderson. All the students were so proud to receive their certificate on completion.
In 1975 the Women’s Auxiliary was instituted under instruction and guidance from the late Evangelist Catherine Williams from the international headquarters Church in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The content and focus of the Women’s Department was clearly addressed and understood prior to its implementation. In addition to the local meetings, yearly Women’s Councils or meeting was schedule for the Autumn. Each church was advised on having a local President and the late Mother Wilson had national responsibility. The baton was later passed on to Evangelist Ileen Mitchell in 1994. This auxiliary would now become known as Women On the Move Ministries, with its mission statement being; “to unleash the potential of women for action now and in the future.” This innovative ministry focuses heavily on developing women and inviting others to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The National Youth Department during this time was also developed with specific responsibility being provided by Minister Headley Brooks – now resident in New Jersey, USA; followed by Minister Danny Deidrick, Minister Headley Dunkley et al.
The Sunday School in the early days was supervised by Minister Richard Wray, followed by Elder Gordon and now by Elder Carl Sinclair.
The first National Sunday School Choir was established by Sister Paulette Allen in the early 90s. This proved to be a fertile training ground for cultivating the young talent in the church. Sister Paulette Thomas along with Sister Barbara Mitchell, Sister Hyacinth Francis and Sister Marlene Hall, spent numerous Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings with the young children and teenagers honing their singing talents. It was during these practice sessions where classics such as ‘Make Way For Love’, ‘Jesus Is Always Looking Out For Me’ and ‘Great Is The Lord’ – which is now affectionately referred to as their anthem and theme song – were first played on cassette tape. This outlet also provided the opportunity for the young people to expand on their creative skills. This was particularly evident when they sang ‘Move On Up The Mountain’ whilst waving their home-made cardboard swords and shields wrapped in aluminium foil for extra effect. The National Sunday School Choir grew to be so large, at one Youth Congress when they were marching into the church; the line had to come to a halt leaving some children outside for a few brief moments. Their instantly recognisable uniform consisting of light blue shirts and blouses with grey skirts and trousers has since become a classic fashion statement. The red cummerbund, red bow tie and red beret are now iconic clothing items in the history of Beulah Apostolic Church.
Over the years, The Brotherhood Department Presidents’ have included Deacon Dunkley, Minister Stephen Sinclair and Elder Sydney Dawkins et al.
The Church building at Stonebridge was lost to fire in 1977. This was a sad time for all; but on inspection, a Bible that was left in the church remained intact. This provided much reassurance for the saints. The members were temporarily accommodated at St Michael’s Church in Wembley for approximately six months until the Evangelical Church on Church Road which was opened in 1896 and closed in 1978 was duly purchased by The Beulah Apostolic Church. The official opening of the Church was a great time of celebration and I clearly remember the then Brother Dunkley and I taking the lead on the song “LOVE OPENED DOORS FOR ME”, this offering from the Young People’s Choir on the night was sung with such gusto, in gratitude to God for his love and faithfulness towards his people.
In April 1994; at the Youth Congress, hosted in High Leigh Conference Centre, there was such a tangible presence of the Lord as the young people ministered with the power of the Holy Spirit, the then Presiding Prelate of the Organisation; Bishop Rufus George Anderson, at his address, declared from the scripture in Luke 2:29-32, which states; “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel”. At the time we did not know it, but following his passing a few weeks later, on the 25th May 1994, it became evident that he was saying goodbye and was assured that the gospel would be left in safe hands.
As part of this historical synopsis, it is imperative to include our founders and patriarchs of The Beulah Apostolic Church, both nationally and internationally. We salute the following:
PASTOR RICHARD HENRY WRAY
As a young man, he accepted Jesus as his Saviour at Greenhill, St Anns, Jamaica.
He arrived in England in 1955 and became one of the founding members in establishing the Beulah Apostolic Church, which began as a small group in North West London.
He served under the pastorate of the late Pastor Robinson from 1956 – 1966.
He married Sister Ilve Sedony Linton in 1957 and their union produced two handsome sons, Rudolph Denningwell and John.
He served as Assistant Pastor to Bishop Anderson, who was the Pastor of the Beulah Church from 1966 – 1994.
He was the National Treasurer for over forty years.
He also served as a member of the Governing Board and an ex-officio trustee since 1994. He was consecrated Pastor of Beulah Church (Willesden) in 1994 after the passing of Bishop Anderson, whom he had served faithfully until his death.
Pastor Wray served in numerous roles over the years; including that of organist, National Choir Director, Sunday School Superintendent and was a supporter of numerous initiatives including Diabetes UK.
BISHOP RANDOLPH CARR
The relationship between Beulah Apostolic Church and Church of God in Christ (Apostolic) was initiated by the late Deacon Gayle. The headquarter church, located in Baltimore; USA was pastored by Bishop Randolph Carr, who was born in Nevis, West Indies and located to the USA in 1912. He became baptized in the name of Jesus in the same year. He served Beulah well and attended Convocations in England. He transitioned this life in 1970. Pastoral and Leadership responsibilities of the entire Organisation (an international cohort) was then assigned to the then Chairman of the Board.
BISHOP WILLIAM SAMUEL BARNES Sr
Bishop William S. Barnes, who was Assistant Pastor to Bishop Carr and Chairman of the Board, now became Presiding Bishop of the National Organisation – a position in which he served for seventeen years, until he went to sleep in Jesus in 1987. Places are named in his memory, including a library, an education facility, a street in his hometown and the William Samuel Barnes Sr. Apostolic Faith Church, founded by his daughter, the late Overseer and Pastor Geraldine James.
BISHOP RUFUS GEORGE ANDERSON [1927 – 1994]
1946 Baptised in the name of Jesus and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.
1957 Married Marie Hunt on the 20th November. Their union yielded six children.
1961 Emigrated from Jamaica to London, England.
1965 – 1994 Pastor of the Beulah church, Stonebridge and later Willesden.
1970 – 1994 Presiding Bishop of the Beulah Apostolic Churches in the United Kingdom.
Bishop Anderson was also a missionary to the United States of America, Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria and throughout the United Kingdom. He was renowned as an anointed preacher and teacher of the Apostolic doctrine. He also served as a Marriage Officer and officiated at ordination services for workers in Ministries, both here and in the USA.
On the departure of Bishop Anderson from this life, total responsibility of this great organisation became the remit of Bishop Lanford Gregory, a position in which he presently serves, with support from pastors, ministers and other ministry personnel.
Again, the local church in Willesden was temporarily accommodated at St Michael’s Church, but Beulah continues to build on the legacy of faith and is destined to succeed. Today; she has entered another phase in her promising future, the rebuilding of a Worship Centre to better serve the people of God and the wider community.