In the Roman Catholic Calendar All Souls Day (2 November) commemorates the souls of the faithful departed who are regarded as being in purgatory. This being so, we at All Souls are often asked why such a committed evangelical church as ours should have been thus named. The answer is not hard to find. We understand that the church founders were determined to build a church large enough to seat all the souls of the parish. Thus their resolve was not to commemorate all the souls of the dead, but rather to accommodate all the souls of the living.
The church was consecrated and opened to the public on 25 November 1824. So when the year 1974 dawned, we were anxious to mark the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the church. I was asked to preach on the nearest Sunday and to look into the future. With due apologies to Martin Luther King and his famous dream speech in Washington, D.C., I concluded my sermon with my own dream:
I have a dream of a church which is a biblical church which ...
John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."1