Moore College gives thanks to God for the life and ministry of Dr Mike Ovey, Principal of Oak Hill College, who died suddenly on 7 January at the age of 58. Dr Ovey taught at Moore for three years (1995-98) before returning to the UK to join the Oak Hill faculty. He was appointed Principal in 2007.
Dr Ovey has been author or contributor to numerous books, has contributed regularly to the journal Themelios, as well as producing many scholarly and popular articles for other journals. He has been the clearest and strongest voice in contemporary English evangelical theology. His contribution to the GAFCON movement, speaking at both of the major conferences so far and serving as a founding member of its Theological Commission. (pictured: courtesy Oak Hill College London website)
It is, however, as a theological educator that he has made a contribution that will be most sorely missed on the English scene. He has enabled Oak Hill College to become the leading theological College in the UK, with the highest academic standards, the best possible practical training, and an unambiguously reformed, evangelical and Protestant theology. He refused to surrender any of these in the face of ongoing pressure from authorities within the Church of England with a liberal agenda. As a result, the graduates of the College are the best prepared of any in Britain for gospel ministry in a very challenging environment.
The Principal of Moore College, Dr Mark Thompson, a close personal friend of Dr Ovey, spoke of his own deep sadness at Dr Ovey's death and the great blow this is to the cause of the gospel in Britain and around the world. "Mike's courage and clarity and theological acuity were extraordinary. His determination, insight and grace under pressure - sometimes astonishing pressure - gave hope to many suffering at the hands of those who should have been caring for them. He was a wonderful gift of God to us."
Together with his wife Heather, Dr Ovey has encouraged and nurtured many Christian men and women, at Oak Hill, at Moore, and in the churches where they have served over the years. We rejoice at all the Lord accomplished through him and through them both as a couple. We are comforted in the knowledge that Mike now enjoys the presence of the Lord he served so faithfully. We look forward to standing with him before Christ's throne on the last day. That day cannot come soon enough. In the meantime, we commit ourselves to pray for those who feel his loss most keenly, his family: Heather, Charlie, Harry and Ana.
'Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.' (Psalm 116:15)
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has offered this comment on the loss of Dr Ovey:
"Dr Mike Ovey was a gifted student of God's word whose ability to convey the truths of Holy Scripture and their contemporary application was outstanding. Mike's scholarly analysis of current trends in philosophy and theology was astute and penetrating, always with a view to strengthening the Christian's understanding of the nature of God's kingdom and his sovereign rule over our lives. A gracious and godly leader, Mike's presence and counsel will be sorely missed not only at Oak Hill College, where he served as Principal for a decade, but throughout England and the world. We in Sydney have lost a true friend whose frequent trips to our city will be sadly missed."
Former Archbishop of Sydney and Moore College Principal, Dr Peter Jensen, said:
"Mike Ovey belonged to us all. He spent several years with us in the 1990s on the faculty of the College and made a deep impression as a godly man, and a lively and effective teacher. During the years that followed both at Moore and Oak Hill, he developed into a first class theological thinker and leader. His contribution to the cause of Christ, not least in the fellowship of GAFCON, was profound. He showed judgement based on learning, humility like his Saviour and a courage born of faith."
Former Oak Hill College Principal, Dr David Peterson, commented on Dr Ovey's contribution to Oak Hill College:
"Mike Ovey played a significant part in the transformation of Oak Hill during my time as Principal. Most importantly, he took the lead in reconstructing the Doctrine courses and persuading students about the importance of Systematic Theology. Mike was much appreciated as a preacher in Chapel, where he showed how to bring theology and exegesis together in the exposition of Scripture. He uniquely combined a wisdom about ministry in the Church of England with an appreciation of his experiences in Sydney, especially at Moore College."
Rev Simon Manchester, Rector, St Thomas' North Sydney, has given his thoughts:
"Mike and Heather were in my 'Read, Mark, Learn' group (at St Helen's Bishopsgate) in the early 1980s and they and their family were at St. Thomas' North Sydney for four years in the late 1990s. We regard them as treasured friends."
"Mike has been a giant in biblical training, a gift in theological communication, a servant in Christian relationships and an example in personal godliness. We will hugely miss his stimulus, kindness and wit ... for a while."