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About  Stephen Olford

Stephen Olford

Stephen Olford was born in Zambia in 1918 to missionary parents, Fredrick and Bessie Olford. He was raised in Angola, where he committed his life to Christ and witnessed first-hand the transforming power of God and His Word.

Following a life-threatening motorcycle accident in the UK, Stephen surrendered to the Lord’s calling him into ministry. He was ordained as a Baptist minister and earned his doctorate in theology from Luther Rice Seminary. After marrying Heather Brown in Northern Ireland,  in 1948, Stephen went on to pastor Duke Street Baptist Church in London and Calvary Baptist Church in New York City.

In 1970 Olford launched Encounter Ministries. His focus was international outreach through his weekly radio show, TV, pastor’s institutes, and Bible conferences. He also wrote numerous books.

Under Encounter Ministries Olford founded the Stephen Olford Institute for Biblical Preaching in 1980 to promote biblical preaching and practical training for pastors, evangelists and lay leaders. In 1988 the Stephen Olford Center in Memphis was opened as a retreat center for pastors to come learn expository preaching under Stephen and his son, Dr. David Olford. Stephen defined his mission as “Equipping and challenging pastors and lay leaders to pass on the passion of the gospel to the world.” To that end, institutes, workshops, internships, and continuing education credits were all offered on campus.

After his passing in 2004, Heather Olford felt burdened to preserve her husband’s voluminous instructional preaching materials for the next generation of preachers. Ministry Outreach Foundation’s president and CEO, Dr. Richard Hamlet, an Olford Center alumnus, was pleased to partner with the Olford family by overseeing the Stephen Olford Ministry Legacy (SOML) project.