A SERVICE to celebrate the life and legacy of the Revd Dr John Stott was held at All Souls’, Langham Place, in central London, on Tuesday, the centenary of his birth. Dr Stott was the Rector of All Souls’ from 1950 to 1975, and an honorary curate until his death in 2011 (News, 22 July 2011; Obituary, 5 August 2011).
About 40 people, masked and socially distanced, attended the service, and more than 600 watched a livestream of the service, which is still available to watch online.
Canon Chris Sugden writes: “This was the first live service held in All Souls’ since March 2020, the first day of the tenure of Bishop Keith Sinclair as national director of the Church of England Evangelical Council, established by JRWS [Dr Stott], and chair of the trustees of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion, also established by JRWS in 1962. It was also the eve of the institution of the new Rector of All Souls’, the Revd Charlie Skrine, born in the year JRWS resigned as Rector.”
The international ministries director of the Langham Partnership, the Revd Dr Chris Wright, preached on Romans 1.1-7. “He noted that, in 1945, when JRWS began as curate at All Souls’, England was reeling from World War Two and Evangelicals were a small minority in the Church of England,” Canon Sugden writes. “Now 600 million people around the world call themselves Evangelical, most from the Global South.”
Dr Wright also “noted that there is little point in contending for doctrinal purity if ethical impurity is present in the church fellowship, including where Evangelical leaders had failed”.
The Latin American theologian Dr Ruth Padilla de Borst, in a video message from Costa Rica, “noted how the identity categories that people used served to divide humanity into opposing groups, and that JRWS exhibited humble and respectful unlikely friendship for people far outside his circle through crossing borders”, Canon Sugden writes.
Other speakers at the service, in person and online, included the co-founder of the Christian conservation charity ARocha, Peter Harris; the teaching director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka, Ajith Fernando; and the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Foley Beach.
Watch the service here