A tribute to Rev'd Dr. Mike Ovey
The Rev'd Dr. Michael Ovey gave up a weekend to be the keynote speaker at our LCF National Conference only last November. It has come as a shock and deep sadness to learn of his sudden death at the age of 58 just a few days ago.
Mike studied law at Oxford and whilst there encountered the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship. At the conference he made it plain that God used the LCF in his life whilst he was a student in an important way. He had to navigate the challenges of the strongly positivist approach to law at Oxford and was helped by the LCF which centred on a biblical approach - ever since he had been grateful for this input. He is best known as an academic theologian but as he shared when speaking at the launch of the LCF publication "Good News for the Public Square" on 5th June 2014: "…the legal education casts a long shadow…" He went on to explain that his first lecture as a law student was prefaced by the words "you are lawyers and you will never be the same again". That, he observed, was true.
After completing a BCL at Balliol, Oxford, Mike went on to work in the Civil Service as a parliamentary draftsman. His talks to the LCF over many years contained various humorous references to his time in this role where his prodigious intellect and attention to detail was undoubtedly put to good use. When introduced at LCF events as a former lawyer on more than one occasion he clarified with the assembled audience that he had been called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn and had not been disbarred, therefore they were not to think there was anything untoward in the description of him as a "former lawyer". He was for us always a "fellow lawyer".
Over the years he contributed a vast amount of Christian wisdom and learning to many lawyers at various events. My first encounter with Mike through the LCF was when he spoke at an evangelistic dinner at the Savoy Hotel in May 2006 when true to form, he gave a witty and powerful gospel-focused address. Others remember a superb talk on keeping our conscience clear in 2008 which, alongside other talks, can still be listened to on the LCF website. More recently, he contributed to the lecture series "Good News for the Public Square" on the subject of "Public Authority" ; this lecture was subsequently weaved (with his consent) by Timothy Laurence into an invaluable resource providing a biblical framework for Christian Engagement in this area.
At our National Conference in November, Mike continued to bring great insight and challenge for our members under the title "Luke for Lawyers". These three talks are available on the LCF website and are characteristically full of meat for Christian Lawyers seeking to serve the Lord in the profession.
This is not the place to pay tribute to Mike's remarkable life beyond his connection with the law save to say that he was used by God to have an impact on many students who have passed through Oakhill Theological College and are now faithfully preaching God's word in churches, prisons and other places across the country. For this we are immensely grateful.
It seems fitting, though, to conclude with Thesis One of the Barmen Declaration. Mike cited this at the beginning of his first talk to us at the LCF conference, and it sums up the truth which Mike knew and aspired to, and which he worked to communicate to others:
"Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in holy scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death."
Our thoughts and prayers are with staff and students at Oakhill and, above all, with his wife and family.
Ian Miller, LCF trustee and former Chairman. 12th January 2017