John Stott died in his retirement home at St. Barnabas College at 3.15pm on Wednesday 27th July. He was surrounded by family and a number of good friends including his Secretary, Frances Whitehead. They were reading the Scriptures and listening to Handel's Messiah when he peacefully went to be with his Lord and Saviour.
Tribute from Hugh Palmer, Rector, All Souls Church :
John Stott was a very remarkable Christian leader with an international reputation but his church home was here at All Souls for nearly all his life, so his death will be felt by us at a very personal level. John came to the church as a child and I can well remember him telling our family of his first visits to the Rectory as a member of the Sunday School. He was to spend more than 50 years as Curate, Rector and then Rector Emeritus in a remarkable ministry here. In every sense he was one of the church family so his death leaves us with a real sense of loss as well as the confidence that he is with his Lord and ours.
As Rector for many years, John’s ministry extended well beyond the bounds of All Souls and his leadership was valued and experienced not just in London but nationally and internationally. His preaching drew many to Christ and kept many on track in their Christian thinking and living. His books did the same for millions more and equipped pastors and laypeople to become bible teachers themselves on every continent. Many is the time I and countless others have been more than grateful for the insights of his commentaries or the clarity of thought with which he tackled some thorny issue in a book that forced us and helped us to engage Christianly with the real world.
|John Stott was the first preacher I heard as a newly converted student. Six day old ears weren’t able to get full value then out of what they were hearing! What a start they had been given though in listening to the bible taught and explained. To find myself standing 30 years later in the pulpit John had served for so long was a humbling experience. His graciousness, wisdom and friendship to me and the whole family were very striking. No one could have asked for a more supportive former Rector in their congregation.
Obviously many will have their own personal memories of “Uncle John” from his incisive mind to his patient kindness, from his inclusive welcome to his faithful championing of the truth but a fitting reminder for many who sat under his ministry here will be this humble prayer which began so many of his sermons: “We pray that … Your written word of Scripture may now and always be our rule, Your Holy Spirit our Teacher and Your greater glory our supreme concern, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Photo of the Four Rectors – left to right : John Stott, Michael Baughen, Richard Bewes and Hugh Palmer
Tribute from Richard Bewes, Rector, All Souls Church, 1983-2004 :
John Stott was, under God, my ‘insurance policy’ against anything going wrong. I had known him ever since I was thirteen years of age, when he drove me to the Scripture Union houseparty at which I made my teenage decision for Christ. Ever since, I thought of him as always ‘there’, to befriend, guide and inspire. Later, at Cambridge University, I would see John as a celebrated speaker at Christian Union events…. and he always recognised me by name. Later still, as a new vicar, I felt able to write to him for advice, especially in the face of pastoral problems or new fads in church life.
When I became Rector of All Souls, we would pray together every week. He would treat me as his ‘boss’, but then he was my ‘bishop.’ Because my own study tended towards untidiness, we would usually meet in his tiny two-room flat, for there was an iron discipline about everything that he did. One year we were both speakers at the Keswick Convention. At the hotel where we were staying, I asked the staff member responsible for cleaning our rooms what she thought of the Convention. “Well,” she replied, “I go down to the Convention, and I hear people praising one speaker and then another. But I judge these men not by their speeches but by their bedrooms!”
“On that basis,” I hazarded, “Who is the outstanding speaker at Keswick this year?”
“Oh,” she said, “There’s no doubt at all about it. It’s John Stott!”
Many honours were heaped upon my next-door neighbour of twenty-one years, but he wore them very lightly. There were no prestigious photographs on display in his flat, and on the couple of occasions when the flat was burgled, nothing was taken – for in reality there was nothing to steal. Leaving London for an overseas trip, his indomitable secretary Frances Whitehead - beloved at All Souls and around the world - would drive him to the airport in a little dark blue second hand car. Once overseas, he would be given an enthusiastic welcome; there would be photographs, speeches, celebratory meals, gifts and even garlands. Then he would fly back, and at the airport there would be Frances once again, waiting to take John home in the little blue car.
John Stott has been around for pretty much all of my life. Yes, he was a sort of insurance policy for me across several decades. Even to the end of my twenty-two years at All Souls, I would think, Nothing can go wrong; John Stott is here.
His works will follow him into all eternity.
Tribute from Michael Baughen, Vicar and then Rector of All Souls 1970-1982 :
John Stott, one of the greatest Christian leaders of the 20th Century, has gone home to his beloved Lord …. and what a homecoming that will have been!
Vast numbers of us, all over the world, from the African village to the American penthouse feel we have lost a father, a brother, a counsellor, a friend, a model, a teacher, a strategist, though deeply thankful we have had the privilege of knowing this holy man of God, this faithful servant of Christ. Yet all of us who have been part of the All Souls family, past and present, feel the loss the most deeply. From his early days of ministry here, into his immensely effective Rectorship, on into his emeritus status, taking a back seat, but never failing to be present in the church and at the fortnightly prayer gathering, whenever he was back in London… he was “family” and family loss is the deepest of all.
How or why he dared to ask someone like me to take over from him at All Souls I do not know. My pedigree did not fit the normal requirements! Yet that was John. He dared to act when he saw a new way for church and ministry, thus in his pioneering of lay leadership training in the church, in starting Eclectics to galvanise young ministers with the Word of God and in his strategic thinking to benefit pastors all over the world with free books, with training particularly in preaching, in the provision for outstanding leaders to take doctorates…this was John. So, when I came, he encouraged, indeed wanted, me to develop new ideas and ways of “doing church”. He gave 100% support and was never disloyal, only the most trustworthy of friends, an invaluable colleague and counsellor. So he was able to rejoice in the progress of the church, as he did with Richard Bewes later and then Hugh Palmer. John did not have pride for himself but he did for the cross of Christ and for the advance of evangelisation in the local scene and across the world. His passion was Christ and the cross of Christ and his legacy in his wonderful writings which have fed and continue to feed so many will influence generations to come.
What a man, what a Minister… our praise and thanks to God abound at this time for such a faithful servant of Christ.
Photo of John Stott at his Institution and Induction at All Souls Langham Place on Tuesday September 26th 1950.
For fuller reminders of John Stott’s life and ministry and further tributes from others around the world you may like to visit www.johnstottmemorial.org