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Bishop Dr Joe Aldred to retire
Well-known midlands-based Bishop Dr Joe Aldred is to retire on 31 October. After some years of pastoral and oversight ministry with the Church of God of Prophecy in South Yorkshire, Joe and his family moved back to Birmingham in 1996. He spent six years at the Centre for Black and White Christian Partnership, and the last eighteen years as Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multicultural Relations at Churches Together in England. Over the 24 years Joe has ministered from a base in Birmingham, his daughters have grown up, grandchildren have arrived, and his wife Novelette has established herself as a counsellor, psychotherapist and, more recently, an NHS Chaplain.
The image at the centre of Joe’s intercultural ecumenism can be found in Revelation 7:9. In heaven, with the risen Christ centre stage, there is a great multitude that nobody could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language. As Joe puts it, the ‘realised eschatology’ implied in the Lord’s prayer is the outworking of that heavenly picture here on earth. We are all represented there! No one is begging ‘please include me.’ No one is saying, ‘your type isn’t welcome here’. This has been my assumptive approach over the years, encouraging, enabling, empowering ‘the least of these’ to take their place at God’s table, no human permission needed.’
Asked about his favourite memory from his time with Churches Together in England, Joe replies, ‘If I had to choose just one, it would be the installing among the CTE Presidents of a Pentecostal President (Eric Brown) back in 2013. It marked a kind of coming-of-age in the ecumenical journey for Pentecostal and Charismatic churches in England. However there have been lots of other highlights for me – getting the CTE Pentecostal Forum up and running in 2014, working on reports on social disorder and human trafficking, helping to memorialise the contribution of African and Caribbean Servicemen in World War One and getting the chance to edit and publish books such as ‘The Black Church in the 21st Century’ and ‘Pentecostals and Charismatics in Britain.’
Revd Dr David Cornick, CTE’s General Secretary from 2008 to 2018, writes, ‘Joe Aldred is an exceptional man. He has spent his working life defying logic – I still don’t quite understand how he can fit at least twice as much work into a day as normal mortals! However, to work alongside him for the ten years that I was General Secretary of CTE was a rare privilege. I first met Joe when I attended a meeting he was involved with at the Centre for Black and White Christian Partnership, of which he was the Director from 1996 – 2002. His reputation as a theologian, thinker and leader was considerable, and it had gone from strength to strength by the time that I arrived in Tavistock Square in 2008. Here was a man who was an acknowledged expert on the black-led churches and on black theology, a man who moved easily amongst Radio 2 DJs, government ministers, diplomats and church leaders.’