As a member of the Evangelical Alliance Council, it was wonderful to be at the commissioning of Gav Calver as the new CEO.
I didn't tweet about the moment because I wanted to reflect more than a tweet would allow. There is a need to look back with thanks and gratitude as well as celebrate what is to come.
I've been a personal member for almost thirty years, so I've seen various leaders come and go. But as a council member, I have only known and served with Steve Clifford.
My personal reflection of Steve is that he is a delightful man who is kind and gentle. This shy introvert has appreciated how he can make each individual feel as though they are the only person in the room, causing them to feel valuable as a person and a friend.
It was he who sat beside me the first time I was asked to speak as a guest at a council meeting, having recognised I was terrified. He didn't introduce himself as the director, he just said "Hi I'm Steve, can I get you a drink?" and just sat, unrushed, while I settled.
As the general director of the Evangelical Alliance, I have seen the same gentleness and care at work in him. Even in the painful and difficult decisions, he has been kind, honourable and a man of God. His wisdom has been obvious and every word he has spoken in the public arena has been measured and weighed. This gravitas has been a reassurance to many.
He leaves his role well, with a job well done.
As Gavin now picks up his role as CEO of the Evangelical Alliance, we need to be careful not to compare. This is not the passing of a mantle from the older to the younger as in the story of Elijah and Elisha. Steve has laid down his mantle – but it was his. Gavin is picking up a new mantle with a fresh and different calling.
During the commissioning the quote from the story of Esther was used: "For such a time as this." I believe Gavin in the right man in the right time to pick up this role.
Please indulge me a moment to reminisce! As a fifty something, I have had the privilege of seeing Gav's first steps in ministry and to cheer him on from the sidelines. I've seen him grow in spiritual stature and wisdom and his enthusiasm never seems to dim! I am delighted to now serve alongside him.
It has been commented on that he is the third Calver to serve in this way. He commended his mum during his commissioning for being firstly the daughter of an EA director, then the wife of a director, and now the mother of the CEO.
I gained much from his dad's ministry in my late teens (including the phrase "Evan-gelli – grin" which I have subsequently stolen!). But Gavin is not his grandfather, he is not his dad, he is his own man but first and foremost God's man.
Some have said he was a 'safe' choice. My first reaction to that is: get to know him, safe is not a word I would use and I say that in a good way. To quote C.S. Lewis completely out of context: Mr Beaver in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe refers to Aslan as "not safe", but "He is good". We know that Aslan represents God in this story, and as a man of God, Gav reflects God's character. He will therefore not be the safe choice and I don't want him to be 'safe'. I need him to be 'good' and reflect God in all he does.
As a final comment, I had no doubt in the choice of Gavin to lead the Evangelical Alliance, but one thing during his commissioning grounded that conviction. His daughter and the way she looked at him. When a daughter can look at her dad with such pure love and trust, there is a measure of the man.