Irving Steggles 1945 – 2020
We are sad to report the death of Irving Steggles on 22 April, a Board member and former student of the Seminary.
Irving was a remarkable man, both in his outstanding gifts, and his extraordinary zeal and dedication to the cause of Christ.
Irving was saved at the age of fourteen in 1959. Graduating from Oxford University in Mathematics, he taught for many years at Monkton Combe School. He was Chairman of Mathematics in Education and Industry. Irving was called to Gospel ministry while a member at Widcombe Baptist Church, Bath, and trained at London Seminary. He was then called as pastor at Ladyfield Church in Chippenham. Throughout this time he maintained close links with South Africa, and was called to pastor in Durban in 2004. At the end of 2005 Constantia Park Baptist Church planted Birchleigh Baptist Church in Kempton Park, based on the 1689 London Baptist Confession. Irving was called to serve as pastor of this new work.
Irving was wholeheartedly committed to the cause of the Gospel in post-apartheid South Africa, and in particular to raising up a new generation of black leaders and preachers. Some of these men were sent to train at London Seminary, including Thapelo Mpai and Sihle Xulu. The quintessential white English gentleman, Irving might have appeared to be unsuited for such ministry, but he was greatly loved by his church family and valued for his commitment to the cause of the Gospel especially in the townships of South Africa. Birchleigh Baptist Church developed an extensive evangelistic and outreach ministry, including work in many schools, and a feeding scheme. A dozen young men from the church led ministries to bring true reformation to the townships where superficial and erroneous understanding of the Gospel prevailed. Through his friendship with Erroll Hulse, he was involved in the establishment of African Pastors’ Conferences in 2005, seeking to provide help to black pastors and preachers not least through good role models of preaching by black leaders. Following Erroll’s incapacity and death Irving became Director of this work, and led its extraordinary expansion with the multiplication of conferences throughout Southern Africa. He worked with Conrad Mbewe, and was on the Board of African Christian University. He also served on the board of Mukhanyo College, and Reformation Today Trust.
Irving was a great friend of London Seminary, and served on the Board until his death. He was Chairman of the Board for a little more than ten years until early 2015. He led the Board through the transition from Philip Eveson’s principalship to that of Robert Strivens, then and subsequently ably chairing Board meetings, flying in from South Africa conscientiously to fulfil that duty. His love for the Seminary and for the work of training men for pastoral ministry was evident in all his involvement with the work. Irving believed the pastorate to be a very high and demanding calling and that training for the work should therefore be rigorous and challenging. He loved to have the opportunity to preach to the students in morning worship and took great delight in meeting and conversing with the men in training at the Seminary during coffee breaks and over lunch. Irving’s enthusiasm, energy and, above all, his love for Christ and his church were infectious and will be greatly missed.
He was a good soldier of Jesus Christ; now he enters into his rest, and his reward. While we give thanks for Irving who accomplished so much in the cause of the Kingdom, he would want us to join him in giving all glory and praise to Christ alone.