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10 January 2017

Tributes for Oak Hill Bible College principal Mike Ovey

The principal of Oak Hill Bible College, the Rev Dr Mike Ovey, suddenly died this weekend at the age of 58. 

The college spoke of their shock at the news, and asked for prayers for the family. 

In a statement, they said: "As the Oak Hill community comes to terms with the loss of our dear brother and leader, we cling on to the promise: 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.' It reminds us that for Mike, death is not an end but a glorious beginning.

"Please hold in your thoughts and prayers Mike's wife Heather and their three children Charlie, Harry, and Ana."

The general director of the Evangelical Alliance, Steve Clifford, wrote to Oak Hill to express "sadness and commitment to prayer" for the college as it faces this loss. 

Steve said: "I only got to meet up with Mike in recent years, but it was great to get to know him and indeed to regard him as a friend. I look back with fond memories on our various encounters and indeed with respect for all that I saw Mike and the team were achieving through your work at the college."

Mike trained for Church of England ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, after working in the civil service for a number of years. 

He was ordained in 1991, and was a curate at All Saints, Crowborough for four years. He later moved to Australia to teach at a theological college.

Returning to the UK, Mike completed a PhD at King's College and became a research fellow at Oak Hill. 

In 2007, Mike took over from Professor David Peterson as principal of Oak Hill and also published his first major book, Pierced for our Transgressions, with Andrew Sach and Steve Jeffery.Mike was well respected among academics and theologians. He was looking forward to taking a sabbatical this year.

The date of Mike's funeral is not yet known. 

Principal of St John's, Nottingham and chair of the Evangelical Alliance's theology advisory group (TAG), the Rev Dr David Hilborn, said: "I was shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Mike Ovey. He brought great lucidity and incisiveness to his theological work, and his wisdom and insight were always welcome in the community of theological college principals. 

"He led Oak Hill with conviction and a pastoral heart through a time of considerable change in ministerial  education. He exemplified evangelical faith and modelled Christian discipleship. 

"He will be greatly missed, and I and all of us at St John's, Nottingham will be praying for Heather, the family and the Oak Hill community at this difficult time, even as we give thanks that Mike will now know more deeply and richly the blessings of eternal life."

When the news broke on Sunday, many took to social media to express their sadness at the sudden loss. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, led the comments, writing on Twitter: "So sad to hear of the death of Mike Ovey of Oak Hill College. Please pray for family & friends and for the College. Great loss to Church."