20/11/2016 Songs of Praise


20/11/2016

Professor Robert Beckford explores the impact of Britain's first black churches on the nation's Christian culture and visits the UK's first known New Testament Church of God.


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Transcript


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This week on Songs Of Praise I'm in my home city of Birmingham,

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and as part of the BBC's "Black and British" season,

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I'll be discovering how one black Christian couple from the Midlands

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ended up launching a whole new Christian denomination.

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And we hear about the challenges they faced in the early days.

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When I arrived in this country, we were not welcome.

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Nevertheless, there was no place in me to have any hatred.

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We hear how a charity funded by Children In Need

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supported a bereaved family.

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I like St Giles. They help me.

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They helped my daddy as well.

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And it's Stir-up Sunday and I'm going to be stirring up

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a Christmas pudding with a star baker.

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Benjamina, you are Star Baker.

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This week we'll be enjoying hymns old and new from across the country.

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Leicester, Cheltenham, Southampton and here in Birmingham.

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And we'll be paying a special tribute to songwriter Leonard Cohen

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with the help of Alexandra Burke.

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# Hallelujah. #

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But it's in Leicester we start, with an uplifting Gospel hymn.

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Following the postwar invitation from the government,

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Caribbean families began to settle in Britain.

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Many, including the Lyseight family who arrived in 1951,

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found some of the white British congregations

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were less than welcoming.

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We discovered some were saying they had been to other places

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and they were not welcome.

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Nevertheless, this did not allow us to have any animosity

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against the folks.

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So there was no place in me to have any hatred

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because the Lord was leading us through all these situations.

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Rose's husband, Oliver, took matters into his own hands

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and in Wolverhampton he founded the UK branch

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of the American New Testament Church of God,

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inviting newly arrived families to join.

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He did the preaching and I did the singing.

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Between 1953 to 1956 the church grew.

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I mean, grew immensely.

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The congregation Oliver founded over 60 years ago

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is still thriving today and is known as Harvest Temple.

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It's one of a network of 130 churches across the country

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with over 30,000 members.

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How do you feel now about the fact that the denomination

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is all over the country?

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When I look back and see now the expansion,

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the growth of this organisation,

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I am really amazed and this allows me to know how great God is.

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When Oliver died in 2006, the funeral attracted huge crowds

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eager to celebrate the life of a man

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who had brought a new Christian denomination to the UK.

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When we arrived I just realised how important my husband was.

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It was so beautifully done.

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# You are my hope

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# Hope like no other. #

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What do you think Oliver would think about the growth

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and the development of the church?

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Oh.

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He would fall off his chair!

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We are blessed.

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And honestly speaking, I am enjoying it to the fullness of my life

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and I give God all the praise and all the glory.

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Friday was another spectacular night for BBC Children In Need

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and it's still not too late to play your part in the fundraising.

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But before I tell you how,

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let's meet a young family who received help.

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# I go before you always. #

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Father of three Mike Stanley was a successful singer-songwriter

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and appeared on Songs Of Praise.

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In December 2010 he was looking forward to spending Christmas

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with his wife and three young sons when suddenly he was taken ill.

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He was rushed into hospital. We didn't have any warning.

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There were no symptoms and we were told he had bowel cancer.

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I had three small boys at home.

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I needed to try and look after them

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but I needed to try and look after Mike in hospital as well.

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It just felt like everything had come crashing down around us.

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Mike was told his cancer was terminal and the family

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were referred to St Giles Hospice,

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who didn't just offer care for Mike.

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With the help of a grant from Children In Need,

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the hospice offers expert support and counselling to children

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and young people facing up to the loss of a loved one.

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Without St Giles' support I don't know where I'd be.

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They helped us all through Mike's illness.

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They helped us during the last few days of Mike's life.

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Mike passed away on the 6th of June 2013.

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It was so calm. It was really peaceful.

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Erm...

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Sorry.

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It was particularly difficult for Luke.

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-That's a massive heart.

-Who's in the middle?

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-Daddy.

-Who's that?

-Me.

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Leaving a notebook for Luke to record his feelings in,

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with a note from Dad at the front,

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was one of the suggestions from the hospice team.

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This is your very own book to write down your thoughts

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and do your own drawings and describe your own feelings.

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I needed help with explaining things to the boys

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and they were really, really helpful.

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They gave me a lot of support in what to say.

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Activities to do with them to help explain it more.

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Mike did a memory box for each of us.

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He had things in there that Luke can now look at and remember his daddy.

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What was the song that he sang?

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Remember he wrote it for you, called My Child.

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# My child You are a gift from God. #

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My worry was that the support would end and it didn't.

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In fact, it grew even stronger.

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They offered a counsellor for me

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and the boys have got a counsellor who they just love.

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What does that remind you of with Daddy?

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-He liked to go to the beach.

-He liked to go to the beach.

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I like St Giles. They helped me and they helped my daddy as well.

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So for Luke, I will continue to be as good a mum and dad that I can be.

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"Luke's memories of Daddy," and I've got a guitar and piano

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because he liked those instruments.

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With the help of St Giles, they've given me

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the courage and strength to know that I can still be

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a good mum and bring up my three boys as best I can.

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If you want to help children like Luke,

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you can find out how to donate at...

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Staying with that theme of Children In Need,

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you can still help us raise funds because the winning designs

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of our Christmas card competition are now on sale.

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All the details are on our website...

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And of course, proceeds go to Children In Need.

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Our next performance is a tribute to Leonard Cohen,

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who died last week, and whose most famous song, Hallelujah,

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was inspired by a story from the Bible.

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Alexandra Burke sang it for us at the Songs Of Praise Big Sing.

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# I heard there was a secret chord

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# That David played and it pleased the Lord

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# But you don't really care for music, do you?

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# Well, it goes like this - the fourth, the fifth

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# The minor fall and the major lift

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# The baffled king composing Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Your faith was strong but you needed proof

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# You saw her bathing on the roof

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# Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya

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# She tied you to her kitchen chair

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# She broke your throne and she cut your hair

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# And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Maybe there's a God above

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# But all I've ever learned from love

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# Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya

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# And it's not a cry that you hear at night

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# It's not somebody who's seen the light

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# It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

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# Oh-oh-oh

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Oh-oh-oh

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah. #

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Thank you. CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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I know we've mentioned Christmas already,

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and it's still five weeks away,

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but the church calendar experts amongst you

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might know why today is a good day

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for Kate Bottley to do a spot of baking.

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It's Stir-up Sunday.

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These two are linked, and I've enlisted the help of a Star Baker

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to help me with my Christmas pudding.

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-Hello!

-Hi!

-THEY LAUGH

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-Shall we do this?

-Come on in.

-Thanks, Benjamina.

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I have a nice job, I get to award Star Baker,

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and Paul and Mary have decided Benjamina, you are Star Baker.

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Benjamina, I am so excited.

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I can't tell you what a massive Bake Off fan I am.

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-Was it everything you hoped it would be?

-It was crazy.

-Yeah?

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You don't know what to expect.

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I mean, it was intense at times, don't get me wrong.

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It was really stressful, really exhausting.

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But it was such an amazing opportunity.

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Breathe.

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It'll be all right.

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In the middle of all that nerves,

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in the middle of all that high-adrenaline stuff,

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what about your faith? How did that help?

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It really helped me to just keep calm.

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You're in the middle of it, it's not going right, you're like,

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-"Oh, my gosh!"

-Yeah.

-But that's when you can just say, "Lord, help me."

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-People were praying for you like crazy?

-Oh, gosh.

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-Church family were on it.

-Fantastic.

-So, you know, all the prayer.

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-So today is Stir-up Sunday.

-Yeah.

-What are we making today?

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-We are making a Christmas pudding.

-Course we are!

-Christmas pudding.

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-So we're going to start with our dry ingredients.

-OK.

-Yeah?

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So we've got some flour and we've got some suet and our breadcrumbs...

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-Can I start doing this?

-Oh, mix, mix away.

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-KATE GASPS

-I can't believe I'm baking

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with someone from Bake Off!

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There's a special prayer in The Book Of Common Prayer

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which we say on this Sunday, that starts with the phrase...

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..and, in Victorian times, this prayer became...

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The traditional Sunday when you heard this prayer in church,

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you'd go straight from church, straight home

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and make your Christmas pudding.

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Thank you.

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I definitely just didn't lick my finger.

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THEY LAUGH

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So tell me about your church family.

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-Oh, they are amazing.

-They must love you.

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-SHE LAUGHS

-I love them!

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And do you bake for church?

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Um, a little bit, little bit, yeah.

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Between you and me, we're unstoppable.

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Your baking, my theology - we've got this, we've got this.

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Amazing. Great team.

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There's a massive thing missing, though,

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and it's that huge bowl of dried fruit.

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-Dried fruit, which has been soaking in orange liqueur all night.

-Has it?

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-All night.

-Let me just try one of those raisins.

-So, yeah, I hope so.

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'Tradition says that members of the family

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'would stir the pudding mixture from east to west

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'to remember the wise men that visited Jesus.

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'So Benjamina's called in her sister and her mum.'

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Well, I've always wanted to do this.

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Here's one you made earlier!

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THEY LAUGH

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-Benjamina, that looks absolutely beautiful.

-Oh, thank you.

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It's so gorgeous.

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I've got MY spoon.

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THEY LAUGH

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-Do you want to grab one and all dig in?

-There we go.

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And it's not too late for you to have a go

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at making your own Christmas putting.

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If you go to the Songs Of Praise website,

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you can find Benjamina's recipe there.

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But now...

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the proof of the pudding's in the eating.

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-So let's dig in.

-Let's dig in.

-Dig in.

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Oh, it's really nice.

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-Mmm!

-Really good.

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We heard earlier how the first black British church

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got off the ground in Wolverhampton.

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Well, the story comes bang up-to-date here

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at Birmingham City Church.

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# At the mention of your greatness

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# In your name I will bow down... #

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Birmingham City Church started in the 1920s

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with a predominantly white congregation.

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Now it's home to members representing 60 nationalities.

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We would say that our type of worship is active worship.

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It's done sincerely, it's done thoughtfully,

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but actually it is exuberant.

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So there's lots of actions and it seems outward in our service,

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but it comes from a deep inner conviction that,

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if we're going to live this, let's live it from a sincere heart.

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We're here to honour him first.

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Mark first found faith through the black church denomination

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we heard about earlier, the New Testament Church of God.

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They put foundations in my life.

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They gave me a framework of how to minister,

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they gave me a framework of how to welcome.

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Anyway, it's great to have you here.

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And I think that's carried through all my ministry, in that, now,

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we feel like we should welcome everybody to our church,

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no matter what race, creed they are.

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Over 50 years ago, that same welcome was extended to the Storrod family,

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the first black family to join.

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I can genuinely say we weren't categorised by our colour,

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we were just loved.

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And that love was colourless. It was just love.

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And that same love has threaded its way through

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to this generation and my generation, too.

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The diversity that we have here

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was something that the church envisaged back then.

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They said they wanted this church to be a multicultural church,

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a church where everyone can come and it embraces all things.

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I think we're really mirroring that now.

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So what does it feel like to be part of the church that is so diverse?

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Oh, it's awesome.

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It's family, and that's what God wants us to be, a family.

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Cos he is our heavenly Father,

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and he wants us to be a family and to love one another.

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It's not a formula, it has to be a desire for unity,

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a desire for all things God and that's what you see here.

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And it works and it's awesome. So all are welcome.

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Let's sing together - Lord, You Are Good.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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It's almost time to go.

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Next week, Connie Fisher marks the start of the season of Advent

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with a life-changing story of giving and receiving.

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We'll hear how one man donated a kidney

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to save the life of someone at his church.

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And there's a brand-new Christmas song from Matt Redman.

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# How far... #

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This week, we've heard of growing churches and changed lives,

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and that's the theme of our final song.

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It was recorded in Southampton Central Hall.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Professor Robert Beckford explores the impact of Britain's first black churches on the nation's Christian culture and visits the UK's first known New Testament Church of God.

Music:

What a Wonderful Change from St James the Greater, Leicester Nearer My God to Thee from Hackney Empire, London Be Still for the Presence of the Lord from All Saints Church, Cheltenham How Great Is Our God (The Splendour of the King) from the Salvation Army, Sale Hallelujah by Alexandra Burke Lord, You Are Good from Birmingham City Church, Birmingham Build Your Kingdom Here from New Community Church, Southampton.


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