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New era dawns for Handsworth church

NEW POST: Bishop Deverton Douglas

THE SYMBOLIC handing over of keys has heralded a new era at one of Birmingham’s biggest black-led churches as Bishop Deverton Douglas took up his new post at the New Testament Church of God in Handsworth.

Hundreds came to witness his installation service organised by the church’s George Street family who gave a warm welcome to Bishop Douglas, along with his wife Paulette and his four children.

And there was also a large contingent from the Bishop’s former church in Deptford, who travelled from south London to wish their former pastor well on the next stage of his life’s journey.

He told the congregation that he was only too well aware that he had “big shoes to fill” by replacing Handsworth’s outgoing Bishop Dr Derek Webley, who left at the end of last year to take up a national post within the New Testament Church of God (NTCG).

BANQUET

“When someone said to me that I had big shoes to fill at Bishop Webley’s farewell banquet in December, I said - well I will just have to put two of mine into one of his shoes,” said Bishop Douglas.

“Derek is both a personal friend and a mentor and it’s with a mixture of pride and humility that I will walk in his footsteps. Everything we do here will be a celebration of his era because he has given us a good foundation to build on.”

Bishop Douglas is the fifth minister to be installed in the Handsworth church’s 62-year history and his vows of service were led by Bishop Donald Bolt, along with Handsworth’s moderator Bishop Ruben King.

In their statements of affirmation, church officials urged Bishop Douglas to “take the community by storm” while Bishop Lloyd Henry said Handsworth would benefit from his wife Paulette’s “untapped potential.”


UNTAPPED POTENTIAL: The Bishop’s wife, Paulette

In an emotional response, Paulette admitted that she “can cry for England, so you better get used to it Handsworth.”

She said she was overwhelmed by the warm welcome, adding: “I am an open book and I come here to love and serve you and to do my best. People say I am strong, but there’s also a fragility to me, so I ask for your prayers.”

Paying tribute to his wife, Bishop Douglas called her “refined, beautiful and considerate – a gem.” He added: “I do not look across borders because there is no greener grass than in my own house.”

MISSION

And he thanked the “extra milers” at Handsworth for going to such lengths to welcome him in his new “vision and mission” to serve the community.

He said: “I am not here just to be your pastor, but to ensure that the entire congregation receives pastoral care and spiritual leadership.

“Young and old; rich and poor; those who can make it to church and those who cannot. I am here to pastor them.”
Born in Jamaica, the last of 16 children, Bishop Douglas came to the UK in 1988 and has held several ministerial positions within NTCG.

He spent four years at Rochester NTCG in Kent before moving to Charlton in south east London. It was here that he became a full-time minister having worked previously for Ford Motor Company as a software engineer.

His third pastorate in Deptford 11 years ago was challenging as the community endured several tragic incidents as a result of gun crime and gun shots were often heard in the neighbourhood surrounding the church.

However, the Bishop and church members helped to foster better relations within the local community and spearheaded a £1.3 million facelift for the Deptford church in 2009.

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