Tributes to pioneering Jamaican bishop who founded an international church movement

Three days of memorials are underway to remember a pioneering Jamaican Bishop who founded an international church movement in Birmingham, when he migrated to the UK in the 1950s.

Bishop Sydney Alexander Dunn founded the Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ in Handsworth in 1955. Over seven decades his form of the faith was taken up all over the world

Bishop Dunn set up a church to represent his Apostolic beliefs in 1955.

Bishop Dunn gave more than his youth, he gave his entire life to the church.

Since his death in July, it has been a time of reflection for the many who will miss him.

He was a man of great integrity, a man that was fully committed a man of faithfulness and a man that had a great vision that's Bishop Dunn

He was like a father a brother he's everything that we needed to make us what we are today.

– Elder Oscar McLean Bethal, United Church of Jesus Christ
  • Friends of Bishop Dunn pay their respects to him

Bishop Dunn arrived in Britain in 1954 from Jamaica as part of the Windrush Generation, with just £14 to his name.

He settled in Birmingham, getting a factory job in Aston. His fiancée soon joined him and the pair married.

However, no church represented their Apostolic beliefs, so Bishop Dunn up his own, at first in a house in Handsworth.

They set up in the dining room, living room, bedroom, wherever there was space.

They did not have the welcome to other churches and so they had to keep services at home.

– Marlyn McGreer, early parishioner
  • Hundreds turn out for Bishop Dunn's funeral procession

The congregation soon outgrew that space, and the first Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ opened its doors in Handsworth a few months later.

It would become the first of 42 more churches across the UK.

Over the decades Bishop Dunn's ministry extended as far asLiberia, Russia, America Canada and his homeland Jamaica.

Me and my mum were alone a lot because he travelled all over the world, not just building churches but also making relationships in other countries.

I shared him with a lot of people. I know he was a father to many but he was also my dad.

– Sherralyn Dunn Rosse, Bishop Dunn's daughter
Bishop Dunn came to the UK from Jamaica in 1955, choosing Birmingham as his home. Credit: Bethel United Church Apostolic

Bishop Dunn's biggest physical legacy is arguably the 2,500-seat Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich opened in 2001 - after 15 years in the planning.

It was one of the first BAME-owned venues of its kind in the country.

To think from a house when we started as a front room as a church to having 42 churches to then being in this magnificent building is really inspirational for us.

– Dorna Burke-Lewis, memorial organiser
Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich seats 2,500 people. Credit: ITV News Central

Bishop Dunn was an inspirer and a visionary for thousands across the world, whose legacy started in the Midlands.

Bishop Dunn will be remembered as a visionary for thousands across the world. Credit: Bethel United Church Apostolic