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Scandal church is denied money to repair building

Daily Post, UK
Jan. 9, 2006
Jessica Shaughnessy
icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday January 10, 2006

Controversial church is still being investigated. Jessica Shaughnessy reports

The Liverpool branch of a controversial church whose leader is being investigated over baby trafficking has been refused financial aid following the scandal.

Gilbert Deya Ministries‘ Merseyside base, the Christchurch in Kensington, is a listed building and is in a poor state of repair.

The leader of the church, Gilbert Deya and his wife, Mary, have been accused of stealing children from Kenya and bringing them back to the UK as “miracle babies”.

English Heritage have refused to give the Liverpool branch a grant because the church is still being investigated by Scotland Yard and the Charities Commission.

Lib Dem councillor for Kensington, Richard Marbrow, said: “I visited the building when Gilbert Deya Ministries first moved in.

“It was in an appalling state, and I would like the city council’s officer who deals with at-risk buildings to pay another visit to determine what the organisation has done to improve it. From the outside, you can see the roof is still not watertight and there is a tree growing from the spire.

“I have concerns about this organisation operating locally.”

Since the church was bought by Gilbert Deya Ministries more than five years ago, some work has been done in the interior.

A new meeting room and a set of stairs have been built, but the rest of the building remains a shell.

Jonathan Brown, of the Liverpool Civic Society, said the building must be saved before it deteriorated beyond repair.

He said: “I am not aware of exactly what goes on in the church, but I think the main priority is saving the building. It is a landmark and desperately needs work doing to it.”

Officers from English Heritage and Liverpool City Council are working with Pastor Gabriel, who preaches at the church, in a bid to improve it.

A spokesman for English Heritage said: “We received a grant application but we are not in a position to offer a grant, as the assets of the applicant have been frozen by the Charities Commission.

“However, we do remained concerned about the state of this Grade II-listed building, which is on Liverpool City Council’s Buildings ‘At Risk’ register.

“We are keeping the situation under review.”

Gilbert Deya Ministries is one of the UK’s fastestgrowing evangelical churches, and claims to have 34,000 members nationwide.

The church has been in the spotlight after reports that its founder and Archbishop Gilbert Deya and his British-born wife Mary Deya, 57, have been embroiled in a baby-trafficking probe in Kenya.

The 52-year-old Kenyan preacher claimed to have helped infertile women conceive “miracle babies”.

Mrs Deya has been charged in a Kenyan court with stealing two babies from a hospital in Nairobi and faces a trial.

Last year, Mr Deya was criticised by High Court judge Mr Justice Ryder, who was asked to determine a one-year-old boy’s future after hearing that DNA evidence meant the couple claiming to be his parents could not possibly be so.

He concluded the woman had never been pregnant and had not given birth to any of the three children allegedly born to her.

The Charity Commission has frozen the bank accounts of Mr Deya’s ministry, and the Metropolitan Police are conducting an ongoing inquiry into activities in the church.

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