100th Anniversary of the birth of Revd Dr Oliver Augustus Lyseight
Wednesday 11th December 2019
Oliver Augustus Lyseight was born on Thursday 11th December 1919 in the district of Claremont, Hanover parish, Jamaica and his birth was registered January 1920. This was common practice for many people born in those times, where their calendar age was different from their official age. This difference could be due to the fact that it took parents or guardians weeks or even months to register the child, because of travel difficulties; and in other cases, because of delinquency on their part. In some cases, some children were never registered, and so don’t know really know their date of birth.
John Lyseight, Oliver’s father died when Oliver was 5 years old. Following his death Oliver’s mother married, and so Oliver inherited a step-father and other brothers and sisters. He was the fourth child in a family with twelve children – but the first child for his mother. He was brought up in the Methodist tradition. He excelled in his school years and his favourite subjects were arithmetic, art, geography and science.
Oliver first came into contact with the Church of God (known in Jamaica as ‘New Testament Church of God’) in 1935. He did not formally join the Church until 1939. He began his ministry work in Jamaica in 1941. After working as a ‘War Food Administration Worker’ in the USA during World War 2, returned to continue his ministry in Jamaica. He became a Licensed Minister in 1946.
Dr. Lyseight first met his wife to be, Rose Goodison in March 1946, but the two only began courting the following year. They were married on 11th June 1947. The couple had seven children: Errol, Newton, Neville, Delrose, Ronald, Patricia and Sharon.
Oliver came to Britain in 1951 on board the ship ‘Britannica’, arriving at Liverpool Docks on 8th November 1951. He became one of the early African Caribbean members of a Wolverhampton church, when he began attending the Darlington Street Methodist Church in the town centre. At first he did not experience any problems attending a white church, but that was to change when a different minister took over the church. In a response to the racism he experienced Dr. Lyseight began a search to find a suitable place of worship after he met other immigrants who had also experienced racism. He discovered that a significant number were so put off by racist abuse that they declined attending any church altogether.
Dr Lyseight brought together a number of immigrants to start their own church. They first held prayer meetings in a member’s home in Faulkner Street. These meetings later moved to the local Y.M.C.A. in Stafford Street, WV1 1NA, where the first public service was held on Sunday 20th September 1953. The place had to be cleaned out and disinfected before every service, as it was used as a smoking room for social functions, however, it was a start. Those who attended that service were Dr Oliver. and Mother Rose Lyseight, Bishop Hermon D. and Mother Margaret L. Brown, Sister Chloe Salmon, Revd Gilbert Peddie and Brother Cyprian Dundas. The group was officially organised as a branch of the New Testament Church of God (NTCG) in June 1955 with 25 members.
As more migrants arrived in the region, the popularity of the New Testament church began to grow, along with its congregation. More branches opened in Birmingham, London and Walsall. The leaders of the church responded to this development and the State Board of the Church in the USA appointed Dr. Lyseight as the National Overseer in Britain.
Dr. Lyseight travelled the country on a Gospel preaching mission. He was accompanied by Rose, his wife, and the choir of singers she managed. During his time the infrastructure of the church developed in Britain. Church districts were set up around the country, to which were appointed District Pastors; and a national calendar was produced. He was in essence the first national spiritual leader for the Windrush Generation in England and Wales.
During Dr. Lyseight’s term in office:
- National administrative structures were put in place.
- The legal and charitable status of the Church was firmly established.
- Solicitors, accountants and auditors were appointed.
- District/local structures were established.
- Bible training institutes and regional branches were established.
- Numerous church buildings/manses were purchased.
- Missionaries were sent/supported in West Africa.
- Scores of ministers were trained, ordained and released into ministry at home and abroad.
- He was a Founding Father of the Afro West Indian United Council of Churches and a prominent voice in the work of Ecumenism in the wider church movement.
- By virtue of his work, the church is now firmly established in Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Ghana.
- He retired in 1978 after serving NTCG for 25 years as its National Overseer.
Dr. Lyseight has been honoured in numerous ways, including the conferment of a Doctorate of Theology in 1985 from Lee University, Cleveland, USA, being voted joint 2nd in the 100 Great Black Britons survey (2004) and since February 2008 through the continuing insight provided by The Oliver Lyseight Annual Lecture which address issues and challenges pertinent (but not exclusively so) to the Black Majority Church in the UK. In 2013 a series of the lectures were published in a book entitled Challenges of Black Pentecostal Leadership in the 21st Century (ISBN 978-0-281-07028-2).
Dr. Lyseight passed away after a long illness, at West Park Hospital in Wolverhampton on 28th February 2006, at the age of 86. He was buried at Danescourt Cemetery on 16th March 2006. The funeral service was held at the Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich. An estimated 2,000 people attended the funeral service.
On the 60th Anniversary of NTCG, Friday 20th September 2013, the first unveiling of a Blue Plaque in recognition of the service of a citizen from the local Black and minority ethnic communities in the City of Wolverhampton took place. There was a celebration service and Commemorative Blue Plaque unveiling ceremony for the late Rev. Dr. Oliver A. Lyseight who was a founding member and First Leader of the New Testament Church of God (England and Wales). Rev. Dr. Lyseight has been recognised by the Wolverhampton Civic & Historical Society for this award for his service to the New Testament Church of God and the Community at large, locally and nationally.
We salute Revd Dr Oliver Augustus Lyseight, a wonderful gift from God to humanity and a great servant leader.
Source and for further information about the history of NTCG visit