Stephen F. Olford

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Stephen F. Olford (1918–2004) was a 20th-century Christian leader.[1] Dr. Billy Graham called him "the man who most influenced my ministry."[2] He was a personal confidant of Graham. Olford was also a role model and friend to prominent pastors such as Charles Stanley and Adrian Rogers. He was a pioneer in Christian television programming with his show, Encounter, in New York. His Sunday morning sermons were also broadcast around the world on radio.[1] He was the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Olford Ministries International in Memphis, Tennessee which became The Stephen Olford Center at Union University. His authorized biography, Only One Life, was written by Dr. John Phillips.

Biography[edit]

Stephen Frederick Olford was born in Zambia as the son of Plymouth Brethren[3] Christian missionaries, Frederick and Bessie Olford. He was raised in Angola. He spent his college years in the United Kingdom. A crisis experience, involving a motocycle accident, led to his dramatic call into the ministry. After receiving ministry training, Olford was appointed an Army Scripture Reader during World War II. During the war, he often spoke with urgency to soldiers on matters of faith before they were deployed. He launched a Young Peoples Christian fellowship in Newport, South Wales. After the war, Olford was involved in extensive ministry throughout the U.K. and overseas.[1]

In 1953, Dr. Stephen F. 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).[1] Olford systematized his method of expository preaching and formed a curriculum used to train preachers at the Olford Institute for Biblical Preaching in Memphis, Tennessee. Pastors and scholars migrated to the institute for inspiration and instruction that often resulted in upgraded pulpit ministries.

He was married for 56 years to the former Heather Brown. They had two sons, Jonathan and David. Olford received the Doctor of Theology degree from Luther Rice Seminary, in Jacksonville, Florida and honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from Wheaton College, Houghton College and Richmond College.[2]

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