A celebration of thanksgiving and honour was held at Jesus House, to mark the end of Steve Clifford’s tenure as general director of the Evangelical Alliance.

The event hosted by Yemi Adejedi, Rachael Heffer and Gav Calver, with tributes from across the nations, through the generations and by the diverse cultures in the Evangelical Alliance.

Throughout there was a consistent and resounding message of Steve’s commitment to ethnic unity. As people shared stories of his friendship and of his willingness to come alongside them, the heartfelt gratitude and appreciation echoed through them all. Current and former staff, along with members of the board, were all there too, to share in the thanksgiving. It was a fitting moment to cherish all that this faithful man has done to serve the Evangelical Alliance, the church in the UK and beyond. 

As Roger Sutton, director of Gather, spoke of Steve’s dedication to church unity across the UK, he said, The ministries, movements and activities of the church that have been made possible thanks to this spirit-sensitive, kingdom focused man who seeks to bless and serve the church.”

Rev Celia Apeagyei-Collins lead the gathering in prayer, interceding for our country, that this may be a United Kingdom. That we may been one. She prayed that what has been started by Steve, may God establish for all eternity. As we stood to pray and hold hands we declared, as one, that the earth should reflect this prophetic posture. That in this place at this time we are the answer to Jesus’s prayer, that we might one, so that the world might believe.

The event also launched Steve’s latest book, co-written with Yemi Adejedi, The [Im]possible Dream, which their explores journey to integration as two friends and as leaders. The book is designed for leaders and leadership teams wanting to develop their ethnic integration, and includes a wide range of voices from the One People Commission.

Pastor Agu Irukwu, who wrote the forward to the book said. As you read the book to come to see that the dream is not impossible. Indeed we have started and we have started well.” He went on to say to Steve, This book will outlive you. It will continue to shape the church for decades to come.”

As Steve passed a silver baton on to Gavin Calver, incoming CEO of the Evangelical Alliance, no one present was left in any doubt that Steve has been a good and faithful servant. That he has served the UK church with integrity and humility. That his legacy will have long lasting, endurance in the lives of individuals and in the Kingdom. 

Along with laughter and song, the event was filled with joy and grace, giving God all the glory for what has passed. But, as one chapter ends, expectations are high as to what is next for Steve and Ann. Ministry will look different, but the heart remains consistent. To love God and to love others. To make Jesus known.

Phil Knox, head of mission to young adults, performed his own spoken word, specially adapted for the occasion. A beautiful tribute for an honourable man:

Shoulders

To the shoulders broad we have clambered upon
The voices raw that have cheered us on
To the hardened hands that have battled and fought
This is a tribute to you Steve who have taught
Us, encouraged us, willed us to thrive
You’ve handed us the wheel when you’ve wanted to drive

To those who have listened to us when life has been poo
To those we have looked at and said, I want to be like you’
To the pastors and dream casters, intercessors and ancestors, game raisers and trail blazers, old agers and back stagers, up lifters and little gifters

For the quiet words and the little chats’
That would keep us from a backslide
And the many other times we’ve needed a kick up the backside
For the cups of tea, the looks in the eyes
For the cheers, the beers, the tears and the years of
Prayer and care and battle cries

Take a two pound coin and read it round the rim
Because its inscriptions, indentations sing a deeper hymn
Of the power of empowerment, the logic of alliance
We stand on the shoulders of giants

And now to those trailing in your wake
May their impact cause hell’s deepest caverns to shake
May others glide behind you, in your slipstream in their time
And may their shoulders be broad enough for others to climb