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"We need to get our hands dirty to show the love of God”

Owen Uriah

GOSPEL MUSIC veteran Owen Uriah is urging everyone to stop and think after just producing his eighth album that he has named Selah – a word that appears in the Psalms meaning ‘stop and listen’ or ‘pause for thought.’
For in today’s world, he feels this is something that too few of us do as we become too distracted and busy on the hamster wheel of life.

Since taking over as Senior Pastor of Perry Beeches Baptist Church in Perry Barr, Birmingham, in 2013, Uriah reveals that his church duties have meant he had to temporarily call time on his music ministry. Now, he proposes to combine both at his church which he hopes to extend to accommodate his growing congregation, while also focusing more on community work.

His vision is to ‘build’ his church both in terms of bricks and mortar, while also ‘building up’ the people within the church community.

Uriah, a former teacher, who has been a gospel artist for 30 years, said:

“I eased up on the music ministry to concentrate on full-time church ministry to establish the church, but now we have consolidated that over the past 12 months it’s enabled me to go back into these arenas.

“So now I’ve produced Selah, which means to ‘stop and think.’ We’re always in a rush these days – we’re always in a hurry to go somewhere, trying to get ‘there.’ When we ask where ‘there’ is, no-one seems to know. In fact many people say: ’Don’t even go there,’ so it can’t be a great place can it? I’m trying to get people to stop and think about life for a while. Stop and think about where they are.”

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Uriah, who has also worked as a prison mentor and wrote several self-help books, wrote all the songs himself. He said:

“I feel I’ve now established the church in the way I want to, so that gives me the time to reconnect with the community, hence wanting to develop another community building – we all have to be proactive. We have to build the church alongside building the community, so going back into music enables me to mix in that arena again, while also supporting charities that need help. I feel I’m revamping myself and combining music with the spoken ministry.

“Sometimes I feel the church forgets its purpose which is to reach out to the community with the love of God, so I want to get out that message through music. All the music I have ever done has always been God-centred anyway. There’s a lot of people out there who are hurting right now, who are broken hearted, going through so many things. It’s our job as a church to connect with them properly, so really I’m using every tool I have whether it’s teaching or singing to reach people.”

Uriah, who has also worked with Street Pastors, added:

“I’ve always seen the church as a hospital, a place for healing, for God to make them right. I’m a great believer in practical Christianity. It’s one thing to tell someone that God loves them, but first of all they want to see it. There’s a song that I wrote for one of my albums, which includes the words: ‘Prayers with many words are spoken to convince me you understand, but still you fail to realise that the miracle is in your hand.’ The point I’m making is it is one thing to say: ‘I’ll pray for you’ – that’s a good thing to do, but let’s be honest, sometimes if they’re hungry why don’t we just put our hand in our pocket and give them something to eat? And that’s what we’re missing sometimes – people just want some practical help. We need to get our hands dirty to show the love of God.”

PRACTICAL HELP: Two Street Pastors assisting a man in Cardiff

Father-of-five Uriah, who is also a grandfather, has a long history of community involvement and has spent time working with anti-gun and knife crime charities such as Families for Peace. He became involved in their work following the tragic murder of his nephew ten years ago. He said:

“I got involved in guns and gangs work because we all have a habit of getting involved in things that have hurt us, but we all need the compassion to be involved in anything, regardless of whether it’s hurt us or not.

“As a church we all need to be a bit more proactive than that – we have a duty. We’re here, we’re called, therefore my job, my life is to help others in the best way we can.”

Uriah says he was inspired to become a Christian back in the 1980s by the American evangelist Nicky Cruz, a former gang leader in New York, who came to speak at Birmingham Town Hall. He said:

“Deep down, I always knew there was a God; I went to listen to Nicky Cruz and they asked us if we would like to give our lives to the Lord. As I went to the front, the exit door was there and I had a sudden feeling of doubt – I wasn’t sure, so I went to open the door, but it wouldn’t open. I was banging and kicking this door and it wouldn’t open. Then this man appeared on the stairs, who I have never seen before or since, and he said to me: ‘What are you doing?’ I said that I was trying to get out, so he said: ‘Do you want to give your life to the Lord?’ and I said sheepishly: ‘Yes I suppose I do.’ I was quite emotional, so he prayed with me, led me to the Lord, then gently pushed the door and out I went. But from then on I started living my life differently.”

Owen Uriah can be contacted on 07773 771 685 or at

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