About Dr. Stephen Olford (1918-2004)
Stephen Olford was born in Zambia as the son of missionaries, Frederick and Bessie Olford. The Olfords had three sons, Stephen, Paul, and John. Paul Olford with his wife, Joy now resides in the south of England. Stephen was raised in Angola, where he committed his life to Christ and witnessed first-hand the transforming power of God and His Word.
He spent his college years in the United Kingdom and a crisis experience led to his full surrender to the Lord and his call into the ministry. After receiving ministry training, Olford was appointed an Army Scripture Reader during World War II, and he launched a Young Peoples Christian fellowship in Newport, South Wales. After the war, Stephen was involved in extensive evangelistic and preaching ministry throughout the U.K. and overseas.
In 1953, Dr. Olford's years of pastoral ministry began by serving the Duke Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Surrey England (1953-1959) and then the Calvary Baptist Church in New York City (1959-1973). He pioneered a Christian TV program, Encounter, in New York, and his Sunday morning services were broadcast around the world on radio. His weekly half-hour radio program, also called Encounter, aired in the United States and some overseas countries.
Dr. and Mrs. Olford, and their son David, moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1985 to develop a training program and Center to encourage and equip preachers and teachers of God's Word. Dr. Olford had already been involved in an extensive teaching, preaching, and writing ministry to help preachers, establishing the Institute for Biblical Preaching in 1980 and later in 1988 the Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching was dedicated to this end. These were both at the Stephen Olford Center at Union University's current location.
Stephen Olford was recognized nationally and internationally for his powerful exposition of Scripture, and his Christ-centered ministry. In recent years he has been viewed as a mentor and model to thousands of preachers, teachers, and pastors in the United States and around the world. He has also received numerous awards, honorary degrees and distinctions. As an ordained Baptist minister and a conservative evangelical by conviction, Dr. Olford ministered across many denominational, cultural, and racial lines. Besides his extensive preaching ministry, he authored numerous books, booklets, and preaching resources.
Dr. Olford's influence upon thousands of pastors and preachers cannot be measured. He has had a significant role in the lives of many, including his longtime friend, Dr. Billy Graham. He has been called "The Preacher's Preacher."
He was a beloved evangelist, pastor, teacher, preacher, leader, mentor, and friend. He was also a loving father, husband, grandfather and family man in every sense of the word. On August 29, 2004, Dr. Stephen Olford, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Olford Ministries International, passed into the presence of the Lord. His wife of 56 years, Heather, and their sons Jonathan and David and their wives Catherine and Ellen and their five grandchildren, Jeremy, Justin, Joshua, Lindsay and Stephanie, succeed him.