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Building on History: Religion in London is funded by The Open University and headed up by a core team from their Religious Studies Department, Professor John Wolffe, Dr John Maiden and Dr Gavin Moorhead. Alongside this research team there is a working group consisting of representatives with academic expertise from different faith groups in London.

Core team

Gavin Moorhead is the Research Associate for this project and a new member of the Department of Religious Studies at The Open University. His main research interests are identity, equality, diversity, social inclusion and community relations at the local level in the UK and across the EU. He has worked on related research projects for the British Council (for example, its UK-wide research project, Young Muslims and Youth Exchange Opportunities and the Open Society Institute (for example, its good practice guide, Living Together: Projects Promoting Inclusion in 11 EU Cities).

John Wolffe is Professor of Religious History at The Open University. He is the author of numerous articles and books in the field of religion and national identity. He was a member of the Commissioning Panel for the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society research programme in 2007 and 2008 and was academic consultant for the BBC series The History of Christianity. He leads the parallel AHRC-funded knowledge transfer project on the Church of England in London.

John Maiden is a member of the Department of Religious Studies at The Open University. His main interests are in British religion and society in the 19th and 20th century. In 2009 he published a monograph of his doctoral research National Religion and the Prayer Book Controversy, 1927-28.

Working group

Humayun Ansari is the Director of the Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies and Professor in the History department at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has conducted research into the history of Muslims in Britain and the West, ethnic studies, race relations and community cohesion, the employment and career opportunities of ethnic minorities, and racial discrimination and disadvantage in society. He is author of The Infidel Within: History of Muslims in Britain since 1800.

Fr Peter Harris is the Roman Catholic Dean in Tower Hamlets and is Chairman of the Westminster Diocese Historic Churches Committee, as well as being a member of the Bishops of England and Wales' Patrimony Committee.  He teaches Church History at Heythrop College, University of London and is parish priest of two East End Parishes.

R David Muir is former policy director at the Evangelical Alliance and founding director of Faith in Britain. He taught history and politics at London University, Communication & Education at the University of East London, and Caribbean and Black British political history at London Metropolitan University where he is currently a Visiting Fellow. David was a member of the Government’s Policy Action Team; he also served the Home Office’s Lawrence Steering Group (LSG) as chairman of the Police Race and Diversity Development  Board.

Ian Randall is Director of Research at Spurgeon's College, London. He has also lived and taught in Prague, Czech Republic. He has written a number of books about the history of Baptists and of wider evangelical movements in Britain and across Europe. He is a Baptist minister and is involved in hospital chaplaincy work.

Marcus Roberts is the founder and Director of JTrails, the ‘National Anglo-Jewish Heritage Trail’, which is part of the Spiro Ark organisation.  JTrails identifies, researches, conserves, interprets and promotes, the rich but often little recognised Jewish history and heritage of England, Wales and Scotland, through the creation of Jewish heritage trails, local cross-community out-reach projects, publications, exhibitions and displays and by working with museums, heritage sites and providers, schools, colleges and local authorities.  The project also employs historical field-work and archaeological surveys to uncover Jewish history and heritage.  Marcus Roberts is a council member of the Jewish Historical Society of England and publishes on Jewish heritage in academic books and journals as well as in the popular press and media.

Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein became the principal of London's Leo Baeck College on July 1, 2006. Previously he held prestigious positions at three American Universities: Harvard, Washihngton University in St Louis, and George Washington University in Washington D.C. Author of six books and more than 50 articles on various aspects of Jewish history literature, and thought, he is widely recognized as perhaps the pre-eminent authority on the history of Jewish preaching. Before leaving the United States, he was Vice President of the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Fr Nicholas Schofield is Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael, Uxbridge and Archivist of the Archdiocese of Westminster (one of the principal Catholic archives in the UK). A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has written a number of books, including William Lockhart: First Friuts of the Oxford Movement and (as co-author) The English Cardinals and The English Vicars Apostolic.

Jamil Sherif was a founding chair of the Muslim Council of Britain's Research & Documentation Committee (MCB ReDoc) and remains a member. During 1997-2000 he represented the MCB on the interfaith alliance campaigning and lobbying for the inclusion of the religion question in the 2001 Census. He is a special advisor to the MCB Secretary General and has a research interest in the history of Muslim social activism in Britain. ReDoc is keen to promote an archival culture within mosques and Islamic projects and welcomes this opportunity to work with the Religion in London project and its partners.

Colin Smith is the Superintendent Minister of the Barnet & Queensbury circuit in North London, where he works in an Anglican-Methodist partnership.  He previously was a superintendent in south-west London.  He trained as a barrister and has an MA in Christian Spirituality.  He is the British Secretary of the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies, an international conference of Methodist scholars.

Rev Phyllis Thompson is the Education Director for the New Testament Church of God in England and Wales. Prior to this role, she was the Deputy Director at the Development Education Association where she developed and facilitated training programmes for trainers in community, further and higher education in the UK and Europe. As an EQUIP certified trainer, empowering, equipping and encouraging leaders are central to her sense of purpose and current role within her denomination.


Royal Holloway
Arts and Humanities Research Council

In partnership between The Open University and Royal Holloway, funded by the AHRC.



Contact Us

If you would like to know more about the project or would like to get involved, please contact:

Dr Gavin Moorhead
The Department of Religious Studies
The Open University
1-11 Hawley Crescent
Camden Town

We welcome your comments and feedback.