More than 200 leaders, family and friends from across the churches gathered on 28 October 2020 to celebrate Bishop Joe Aldred’s retirement, paying tribute to his “tremendous contributions to the kingdom of God”.
With the celebrations forced online due to Covid 19 restrictions, video messages and live tributes were shared via zoom. Leaders representing many of CTE’s 50 national Member Churches expressed their deep appreciation for Joe’s 18 years at Churches Together, noting his significant role in “transforming the ecumenical landscape.”
Archbishop Doye Agama of the Apostolic Pastoral Congress described Joe as “the great ecumenical navigator, a great pioneer of ecumenism”, saying “Your legacy lives on in the broader, wider, deeper, much, much more diverse ecumenical scene that we enjoy today, much of which would not have happened without you and people like you.”
Representing Joe’s own church tradition, the Church of God of Prophecy, former National Overseer Bishop Wilton Powell noted: “He has grown from among us and now is a giant on the landscape of Christianity”.
Reflecting on how important respect is in the journey of churches working together, Bishop Powell added: “I reflect upon that work you have done in respect – for me respect is an essential ingredient at this crossroads, at this intersection of cultures and ideology. If we do not have respect, the whole idea of communicating across barriers falls flat.
“I do believe that respect will be a fundamental concept that will play a part in the development of ecumenism, and that …you Joe have been employed by God to place that fundamental infrastructure, that foundational thought.”
Joe’s many gifts were praised by CTE’s Pentecostal President, Pastor Agu Irukwu of Redeemed Christian Church of God in his tribute: “I’ve admired you, your intellect, your mind, your forthrightness – to borrow the title of your book, your ability to ‘think outside the box’ on most issues. Your fearlessness, your boldness. Your contribution to ecumenism, to the development and growth of the church, especially the black Pentecostal church, I feel that in the years to come we will appreciate it even more than we do now.”
Rev Nezlin Stirling of the New Testament Assembly also shared a heartfelt tribute to Joe, “the counsellor, mentor, coach, diplomat, preacher/teacher, author, educationalist and consultant”, praising his “stamina, integrity and capacity for flexibility”. Nezlin’s full tribute to Joe can be read at the bottom of this page.
Recalling Joe’s previous role as Director of the Centre for Black and White Christian Partnership, Archbishop Fidelia Onyuku-Opukiri (Council of African and Caribbean Churches UK) thanked God for Joe’s encouragement for black leaders to write their own books, saying “We are so encouraged by your encouragement. Then on to CTE, where you coordinated us, the Pentecostal churches… you helped us to be more recognised than we were before… we are very grateful for you.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and a CTE President, also shared his thanks for Joe, dating back to their time in Birmingham together. He commended “the way in which you helped us to understand especially the Pentecostal churches, the black Pentecostal churches, and their important presence in our country, with that vitality and commitment that you bring”, while also honouring Joe’s work over the last two decades in tackling racial injustice.
CTE’s General Secretary Rev Dr Paul Goodliff also shared his personal tribute to Joe in his role as CTE’s Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multi-cultural Relations, recognising his passion for ecumenism, for racial justice, and of course for the West Indies cricket team.
“You’re passionate about empowering Pentecostal and new churches to take their rightful place at the table of churches around this country. You’ve encouraged them to exercise the agency that, under God and by His spirit’s empowering, they have, and that will be a lasting testament and gift that you’ve brought to the ecumenical movement… It has transformed the ecumenical landscape in England.”
A selection of video tributes for Joe are available to view below…
A tribute from the Revd Nezlin Sterling, Former General & Company Secretary New Testament Assembly – England:
I am delighted to be afforded this opportunity to make a contribution on this special occasion to a formidable man of immeasurable stature.
I have known The Rt. Revd Dr. Joe Aldred in several capacities over two decades. Our working relationship dates back to the 1990s whilst serving at the Evangelical Alliance, the African & Caribbean Evangelical Alliance, Churches Together in England and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
Bishop Aldred’s stamina, integrity and capacity for flexibility is indisputable. His passion for the integration of the Black and Ethnic Majority Churches into the Ecumenical arena, without compromising doctrine and their status, is unquestionable, and was fought with fortitude and resolve. This he achieved by his ability to effectively communicate with church leaders of all persuasions. To the Baptist he was a Baptist, and wore the shirts of the Charismatic and Pentecostals among others. We owe much of our position and recognition in the public square to Bishop Joe, as he is affectionately known, who unselfishly spared no effort to represent us as well as ensure members of our community were represented on ecumenical a governmental committees as required. A good example being the creation of a CTE Pentecostal President.
Dr Aldred, the counsellor, mentor, coach, diplomat, preacher/teacher, author, educationalist, consultant among other portfolios, is deserving of much accolade. You quietly, unassumingly weaved your way into places hitherto accessed by people of colour, opened locked doors and invited us in. You are amazing, Thank you. You have served beyond the call of duty.
To say you will be greatly missed is an understatement, nevertheless Bishop Joe we wish you much success as you transition to another level of your career. Your God who has established and anointed you for such a time as this is gone ahead of you. Your latter days will be greater than the past. Given your tremendous zeal and capabilities, retirement may not be a part of your vocabulary, so we look forward to hear of the great exploits you will be engaged in in the next phase of your life.
Enjoy yourself with your dear wife Novelette. The God of all grace be with you and prosper you as he has done to this day.