BeLiFS Becoming Literate in Faith Setting

Faith Settings

Introduction to the Faith: Pentecost-UK


The historical background of the Church of Pentecost-UK


1. Description of Faith Beliefs, about the Faith itself

‘Pentecostalism’ is a new form of Christianity in Ghana that allows worshippers to express themselves externally and, consequently, feel liberated internally. Unlike the established Churches that were introduced from Western Europe, such as the Church of England, this form of Christianity offers an acceptable identity of a faith that can embrace Ghanaian cultures by responding to the needs of Ghanaians appropriately. (See Amanor


The Church of Pentecost-UK (COP-UK) is a Ghanaian Pentecostal Church in east London that draws together Ghanaian communities from across London and beyond. The faith itself advocates speaking directly to God and speaking in tongues. Members also use medicines prescribed by the medical profession. Church members meet to form sub-groups to support each other in times of need. For example, there is a women’s group that visits the mother of a newly-born baby/babies with basic essentials, as gifts, in addition to providing daily help until the mother can cope. These women meet on a weekly basis and pray for other members of the Church in need of support in many areas. Weekly activities at the COP-UK include midweek services and:



10:30 – 13:00 & 18:30-20:30 Pentecost International Worship Centre (PIWC) 14:00 – 17:00 Akan Service (These include a PIWC Sunday school and an Akan Sunday school)



11:00 -13:00 Akan session Prayer clinic



19:00 – 21:00 Intercessionary Prayer Tower meetings



11:00 – 13:00 – English session Prayer surgery



19:00 – 21:00 – Healing & Miracle Night


2. Faith Group and Community in the Country

According to Dr. Yanney (retired Elder of the London Clapham South branch), the Church of Pentecost in the UK started in 1989 as Elim Church of Pentecost (ELICOP) in Finsbury Park, London, N4. [The Head Office of the Church of Pentecost in Ghana started in 1930 as the Apostolic Church.] In 1993, UK meetings were held in Ilford, Essex. The name Elim was removed in May 2008 when ELICOP became COP (Church of Pentecost). The COP moved into the present building in 2002 at: 746 Green Lane Dagenham Essex RM8 1YX.


Whilst many members of the Ghanaian community within the Church of Pentecost-UK moved to London to join their spouse, some left in the early 1980s to escape persecution by the military government in Ghana. On arrival, they joined the Church of Pentecost-UK in order to speak and listen to Ghanaian languages on a daily basis. For example, from 2002 to 2011, every Sunday, some worshippers travelled to Goodmayes, Dagenham, Essex, from south London in a bus, driven by an Elder of the church. These worshippers now travel to a new branch in Peckham, south-east London. Others travel from different parts of London and beyond to worship on Sundays at the times below:


1.The Pentecostal International Worship Centre (PIWC) 10:30 to 13:00 and 18:30-20:30 2.The Akan Service 14:00-17:00


Linguistic landscape

English is used in the PIWC because the congregation consists of members from different cultures outside Ghana. [On International Day, the same phrase or sentence is spoken by a member of each culture represented in the Church.] These cultures include other African languages as well as languages from Asia, the Americas and Europe. Some members from the non-Ghanaian cultures are married to Ghanaians, although there are many members who joined the Church through friendships in school and at work. The Akan Service uses Twi for preaching and singing but not for teaching in Sunday school. Sunday school is divided into 2-6 years, 7-9 years and 9-11 years. There is also a Youth Group from 12-17 years. The local community is made up of English ethnicity as well as people of African, Caribbean, Southeast Asian and Polish descent.


3. Faith Group in the Area

The Church of Pentecost-UK (COP-UK) is the Head Office of the Church of Pentecost in the UK and it is located in the London Borough of Redbridge at:


746 Green Lane Dagenham Essex RM8 1YX Tel: 020 8590 5823 Fax: 02085905851


The Church of Pentecost-UK is a huge building with many rooms. It has retained the structure of the building which was first, a cinema and then a bingo hall. The large stage usually holds a multitude of male officials and some female singers. There is no sign of the cross or any Christian emblem inside the Church.


The global Head Office of the Church of Pentecost in Labadi, Accra, Ghana, oversees the running of the UK branches and, until 2009, appointed paid officers, such as pastors and missionaries. However due to changes in immigration policies, paid officers are now appointed in the UK.


Church hierarchy

Internationally, an Apostle is the highest position in the Church of Pentecost, followed by a Prophet, a Pastor and an Elder. The Current Chairman is Apostle Opoku Onyina. Every female adult member is addressed as ‘Sister’ and every adult male as ‘Brother’. However, Deacons, Deaconesses and Youth Leaders can be appointed by the UK Head Office in Dagenham.


The role of men

The men deliver the actual service. Only a pastor or a higher officer can baptise a member of the Church. Only pastors and above are paid a salary: all other serving people, such as Deacons/Deconesses are not remunerated. The youth is seen as potential leaders and receive training from adults.


The role of women

The rule is that women are not allowed to become pastors although they can lead prayers and play supporting roles, such as preparing the room and taking care of the men and children. The women make sure that everything runs smoothly and the start the service with singing and dancing. Women do the cooking for special events.


The BeLiFS project

The venue in Dagenham was suggested to the director of BeLiFS by a worshipper from another branch of the Church of Pentecost in west London. Of the four children who were selected from the Sunday school, two live in Ilford, one in Dagenham and another in Barking. The children are the daughter of the Deacon attached to Sunday school, the daughter of the teacher of 9-11 year olds, the son of a Chorus Leader and the daughter of a member of the congregation who approached me to tell me that she was learning to read the Twi Bible.


Oral text

The faith teacher (auntie) of the 2-6 year olds calls for attention by saying, Sunday school and the children respond with no talking. These young children are taught oral texts including action songs, using ‘call and response’ formula in Twi. This is explained to the children so that they understand what they are singing. General teaching is done in English because many children speak English at home, although they understand Twi and/or other indigenous Ghanaian languages.



Faith leaders and faith teachers emphasise the danger of getting into trouble, for example, gang culture. To counteract these, faith leaders and faith teachers organise activities, such as playing instruments in gospel music and table tennis, for the children and the youth in the evenings during the week and on Saturdays. A lot of unspoken problems such as expectation of boys from this community are addressed in Sunday school, Sunday service and workshops.


The Church community

The COP-UK is predominantly Ghanaian and Twi is the major language of communication during the Akan service from 14:00-17:00 on Sundays. [The Akan culture is made up of Twi and Fante speakers.] All the teachers of the 2-6 and 7-9 year olds are Twi-speaking. Ga, the language of the capital, Accra, is spoken by a section of the congregation and they all understand Twi: the teacher of the 9-11 year olds is Ga. Other Ghanaian and other African languages, as well as English and other non-English languages, can be heard across the reception hall before and after church during socialisation. Many children and the youth understand Ghanaian languages but mainly speak English.