Celebration to mark centenary of Lord Soper

Tomorrow sees the centenary of the birth of one of the outstanding Christian preachers of the 20th century. Methodist minister, the Rev Dr Donald Soper, later to become Baron Soper of Kingsway, was born in Knoll Road, Kingsway, London, on 31 January 1903. The anniversary is being marked by a celebration this Sunday at the church where Donald Soper began his journey of faith - St John's Methodist Church, Wandsworth. During the special service, there will be a presentation of the life of Lord Soper - who was described by one newspaper upon his death in 1998 as "God's man in the street". The centenary celebration, scripted by Brian Frost, will take a look at Lord Soper's insight into the life and mission of the church in the world, including material from his renowned soapbox days at Hyde Park and Tower Hill. As well as extracts from his many writings and interviews, the congregation will sing some of Lord Soper's favourite hymns. Lord Soper was a popular public figure best known for his willingness to swap pulpit for soapbox. He was a public speaker at Tower Hill on Wednesdays for more than 60 years and at Speaker' Corner, Hyde Park, on Sundays for 40 years. He was for many years a columnist on the Tribune as well as a frequent broadcaster. An ardent pacifist (he was an early supporter of CND), he was created a Life Peer in 1965 and took his seat among the Labour benches in the House of Lords. A Cambridge University graduate, Donald Soper took on his first appointment as a Methodist minister in 1926 and was Superintendent Minister of the West London Methodist Minister for over four decades between 1936-78. He was President of the British Methodist Conference in 1953-4. He married Marie Dean who died in 1994 - the couple had four daughters and nine grandchildren. source: Methodist Media Office

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