Gospel artists and other Christians recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours List

Muyiwa picked an OBE(Photo: Facebook/Muyiwa)

Gospel singer Muyiwa Olarewaju and Christian PR consultant Marcia Dixon were among the Christians to be included in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Muyiwa is an award-winning gospel artist who heads up the Premier Gospel radio station.  He was awarded an OBE for services to music.

He told Premier: "It was a shock to my system and coming to terms with the fact that I'm the first Gospel artist ever to be awarded an OBE, first Christian artist of African descent to awarded an OBE is special, it means a great deal."

Other British gospel artists on the list this year are Lurine Cato (MBE), Kingdom Choir director Karen Gibson (MBE) and John Fisher (BEM). 

Marcia Dixon has been a fixture of Christian PR for over a decade, running her own company MD Public Relations, which specialises in communications for the black community and BME organisations. 

Marcia Dixon

"Good is good," she said of the honour. 

Historian Dr Colin Podmore received an MBE for services to the Church of England.  He served as the director of Anglo-Catholic group Forward in Faith from April 2013 until February this year. 

Other Christians were recognised for their services to the community during Covid-19, including Rev Canon Paul Hoey, of Eglinton, Londonderry, and Rev Matthew James Price in Gorleston, Norfolk. 

Canon Hoey initiated the Eglinton Churches Together response to the crisis, bringing together church members and the local community in supporting locals who were self-isolating or feeling vulnerable.

He coordinated volunteers in collecting and delivering shopping to their neighbours, picking up medicines and other urgent supplies, and posting mail.

As part of the respose, the local Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland churches nominated 'contact persons' who stayed in touch by telephone with anyone who was feeling lonely or anxious.

"I am humbled and, indeed, astonished to have been awarded an MBE for services to the Eglinton community," he said.

"I have served as Rector of Faughanvale for five years now and during that time have seen the community coming together as one to overcome challenges that would defeat many others.

"I hope the award will be seen as a shared honour by the many who have worked with me for the good of the local community, especially my colleagues in ministry, Rev Lindsay Blair and Father Noel McDermott; the staff and helpers at Eglinton Community Centre; and the many volunteers who have given so selflessly of their time and energy to ensure that shielding and vulnerable people have been supported during the pandemic.

"Most of all, it is a tribute to the resilience and generosity of the people of Eglinton.

"On a personal note, I am honoured and moved to be following in the footsteps of my late mother who received the same award many years ago."

Canon Paul Hoey was recognised for his services to the community during Covid-19

Congratulating Canon Hoey on his award, the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, said it was "richly deserved" and "a great tribute to the positive impact that he has had during his five years as Rector of Faughanvale".

"I hope this award will serve as an encouragement to Paul and his colleagues of other denominations who have jointly modelled compassionate and practical faith in their communities," the bishop said.

"I hope that it will also encourage the villagers of Eglinton and Greysteel, who have responded with remarkable resilience and generosity to the challenges of flood and pandemic, in recent years, setting an inspirational example to us all." 

Since the start of the pandemic, Rev Price has worked in partnership with other local organisations to coordinate a group of over 100 local volunteers delivering, driving, collecting, phoning, praying, donating, door-knocking, cooking, cleaning, organising, packing and doing desk work such as databases and references.

He said he was "blown away" by the award. 

Rev Matthew Price sorting through food donations to deliver to local people in need during the pandemic.

"As the pandemic unfolded, we simply tried to live out Jesus' command to love our neighbour which is at the heart of both the Christian faith and my calling as a parish vicar.  I never expected any sort of recognition, but it is lovely that our efforts have been recognised," he said.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher, said he was "truly delighted" that Rev Price's contribution had been recognised.

"Whilst his modesty as a parish priest will not want any appreciation, Matthew has been a bearer of the light of Jesus Christ during the pandemic and gone the extra mile to care for vulnerable people. Together with the people of Gorleston, I send him my warmest congratulations," he said.