John Stott: A Blessed Remembrance

By Harry M. Covert

A year will have passed later this month marking the death of John R. W. Stott, the venerable rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London.

In every sense of the word, he was a true Man of God, top to bottom and devoted his entire personal and professional lives to Christian living, teaching, preaching and writing.

Rev. John R. W. Stott

The life he lived was not lost on Queen Elizabeth II.  In January 2006 “Uncle John”, as he was affectionately called, was knighted as a Commander of the British Empire.

In this era when the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church in the United States are in chaos, confusion and unbelief in traditional Christian teachings, John Stott was steadfast as an evangelical Anglican.

Perhaps those leading the British churches and TEC, should return to teachings already in place in the Book of Common Prayer and the Bible. Stott never stopped his evangelism, Bible teaching and convictions because of errant winds of change.

Some leaders acknowledged at his passing he would be recognized as the pope if evangelicals acknowledged such a title.

“He was a man of rare graciousness and deep personal kindness, a superb communicator and a sensitive and skilled counselor,” said Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

“I think he set an impeccable example for leaders of ministries of handing things over to other leaders. He imparted to many a love for the global church and imparted a passion for biblical fidelity and a love for the Savior,” said Benjamin Homan, president, John Stott Ministries and the Langham Partnership.

During years of visiting London my Sundays included regular visits to the famed St. Martin-in-the-Field Church, Trafalgar Square, St Margaret’s in Westminster Abbey and Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, London.

In 2003, my longtime friend Chip Watkins of Washington suggested we visit All Souls Church.  Chip and I walked to Langham Place, not far from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) headquarters and studios. Fortunately we were always there on Sunday mornings when John Stott preached his powerful, uplifting and evangelistic sermons.  The music was excellent, the seats filled and the parishioners friendly. We felt at home.

On the last Sunday of April in 2007 the Queen’s chaplain delivered his final sermon. It was evident his 88 years were catching up. He walked to the pulpit, started a message on Christian living, world missions and evangelism.  In a few minutes he experienced a fifteen-second “senior moment”. He regained his thoughts and proceeded to complete the message.

After morning services, Stott always greeted the people, looked them straight in the eyes and shook hands as if he had known them forever. Before heading toward the coffee reception downstairs, we stood in line to greet Dr. Stott one more time before his retirement.

He surprised us. “My dear Washington friends,” he said, eyes twinkling and a smile across his face. “I hope you can excuse my pause this morning?” There was no need for apology we agreed. We shook hands then received a warm hug from God’s man.

While he retired from pulpit ministry, he didn’t retire from writing and continued until the 3:15 PM July 27 death at the College of St Barnabas in Lingfield. He was surrounded by family and close friends. They were reading the Bible and listening to Handel’s Messiah. He died peacefully from age.

Thankfully the Reverend Dr. Stott’s writings and sermons are still available. (c) copyright 2012 Harry M. Covert

This article first appeared in and is used here with permission.

Harry Covert is editor at large of The Covert Letter. email