Rev Yemi Adedeji, director of the Alliance’s new One People Commission, is aiming to be “the bridge” that allows churches to cross the divides that often exist around ethnicity.
Yemi Adedeji is a very busy man, who is passionate about working at the intersection of where the worlds of charity, ministry, business, social justice, media and mission collide. Now, he has added director of the One People Commission to his roles as associate director for HOPE, global ambassador for Compassion UK and strategic advisor for many church leaders across the country.
Having been ordained as both an Anglican priest and a Pentecostal pastor, he is a great person to lead the Alliance’s new commission which aims to bring church leaders from across ethnicities together for unity and mission.
Q. What is the One People Commission?
The One People Commission is all about promoting unity through diversity. It’s an Alliance body made up of key national church leaders who really want to celebrate our diverse ethnicities, but also say that we need to come together as the UK Church.
Q. What attracted you to becoming a part of the Commission?
It was really when Steve Clifford came into relationship with a lot of the church leaders, encouraging us to get involved. I got excited then because this really is my passion. It’s the relationship that birthed the Commission.
Q. Why are you the man for the job?
I think God’s prepared me in terms of how he has skilled me to understand different cultures and types of church. As both an Anglican priest and a Pentecostal pastor, I understand these two worlds well. I’m able to say to Pentecostals, for example, that Anglicans aren’t un-Christian just because they are wearing robes. I feel I have a dualistic role within the context of mission. I don’t build a bridge. I am a bridge. I’ve also got great relationships with the church leaders who form the commission. I used to work for the Church Mission Society and travelled to places including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and South Korea. But my life changed in 2002 when I felt the Lord call me to be a missionary to the people of this country.
Q. Why do you think the Church is so divided around ethnicity?
The Church is naturally divided. But this divide is often caused by prejudice on both sides. It’s also caused by the inability of individuals to cross over from where they are to learn from others. We need to realise that we’re all going in the same direction.
Q. What are your hopes for the commission?
We really want to see the UK Church – in all its vibrant ethnic diversity – united as one. We want to see divides crossed and barriers broken down as we build relationships and form friendships. But we don’t just want to do this for unity’s sake. Unity is a great thing. But it needs to be unity for a purpose – to see our wonderful, diverse communities, transformed with the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s only when there’s a synergy and a partnership for purpose that everyone can actually do what they’re trying to do.