In 1951 Oliver Augustus Lyseight immigrated to England from Jamaica. He was brought up in the Methodist tradition and first came into contact with the Church of God (known in Jamaica as ‘New Testament Church of God’) in 1935.
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 lived in Claremont, a small farming village in the parish of Hanover.
After his switch from Methodism to Pentecostalism, Rev Dr. Lyseight became a Sunday School teacher, then Superintendant and Parish Youth Director to nine churches. He subsequently became a pastor. From 1951 to 1953, Dr Lyseight preached among the immigrants in the West Midlands, UK. The first public service was held on 20th September 1953, at a rented hall of the Y.M.C.A in Stafford Street, Wolverhampton, consisting of seven members. In the early days, the church would meet in various places to worship such as school halls, clubs, Town Halls, Church Halls, front rooms of residential homes, and garages. In fact, anywhere one could congregate for worship.
Rev Dr. Lyseight was officially appointed the first National Overseer of the New Testament Church of God by Dr. Paul H. Walker, the Executive Secretary of World Missions in June 1955.
The Growth of the Church
As a result of the arrival of immigrants from the West Indies (many of whom were committed Pentecostal Christians) coming from NTCG churches, Dr. Paul H. Walker suggested that the name New Testament Church of God should be retained.
Dr. Lyseight served as National Overseer for twenty five years and during his tenure the Church was registered as a Charity and a Company Limited by guarantee which allows it to operate without paying Corporation Tax and Capital Gains Tax, saving the Church thousands of pounds over the years.
As an individual Dr. Lyseight was enthusiastic, deeply committed to preaching the gospel, and an encourager.
Evangelism was his heartbeat and he appointed both men and women into pastoral ministry so as to fulfil the Great Commission. His legacy will pervade for years to come, as men and women of this and future generations aspire to great heights within the Church of God.
Dr. Lyseight was a no-nonsense man; in 1962 he came to Crewe, in Cheshire, and was told the church could not find a place to worship. He asked a brother, “Where is the Town Hall?” Given the address, he sped off, and then returned to the home of the brother with the news, “You have a place to worship as of this Sunday, at the Town Hall”.
His legacy: At the time when Dr. Lyseight left office in 1978, there were 87 churches, 9 missions, 190 ministers, 4,909 members, 99 Sunday Schools, 83 YPE (Family Training Hours), 78 Ladies Willing Workers Bands (LWWB/WM) and a fixed assets value of £1,055.249.00.
The greatest honour Dr. Lyseight received was when his colleagues, under the leadership of Dr. S. E. Arnold, requested an honorary doctorate from Lee University for his life’s work and ministry. This was granted and conferred on him in Leicester, during the National Convention 21st July, 1985.
- The legal and charitable status of the Church in the UK was firmly established
- Under Dr. Lyseight’s administration: A number of Districts were established throughout the UK
- District Pastors were appointed
- A National Calendar was established with annual conventions, conferences & seminars
Today, the New Testament Church of God stands proud with over 107 branches, 12 missions and over 10,000 members with a further 20,000 adherents.
We salute Dr. Oliver Lyseight as a great man of God and indeed a great Black Briton!