Established in 1977 by evangelist Pastor Edir Macedo, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) has grown rapidly internationally to become one of the largest churches with active faith-based communities in more than 180 countries.

The first church in Africa was established in Angola in 1992 and UCKG is now transforming the lives of people in more than 14 African countries including all provinces throughout South Africa. Cenacles of the Holy Spirit have been built in Johannesburg's CBD, Soweto, Durban and Cape Town. The leader of the evangelical work of UCKG in South Africa, Bishop Marcelo Pires, hosts the daily television programme, the Worker's Prayer on TV1 and Wake up in Faith on eTV, and has become a household name through this outreach initiative.

Pastors and volunteers minister to people at grass roots level through hands-on support, a round-the-clock counselling helpline (0861 33 0320), a child care centre, skills training programmes, a youth group as well as groups which distribute food, visit prisoners and assist with burials. The church has touched and changed countless lives through ambitious annual events, including night vigils in Africa's legendary FNB Stadium, marches against HIV/Aids, crusades of faith and pastoral care.

Pastors' wives formed Women in Action (WiA), an organisation which raises funds for charity and does extensive voluntary work. UCKG hosts an interactive website (www.universalark.co.za), a social networking site, www.universalarkcommnity.com) and publishes a weekly newspaper, the Universal News with a distribution of
170 000.