Celebration to mark the centenary of Donald Soper

The anniversary is being marked by a celebration this Sunday (2February) at the church where Donald Soper began his journey offaith - St John's Methodist Church, Wandsworth. During the specialservice, there will be a presentation of the life of Lord Soper -who was described by one newspaper upon his death in 1998 as "God'sman in the street".This week sees the centenary of the birth of oneof the outstanding Christian preachers of the 20th century.Methodist minister, the Rev Dr Donald Soper, later to become BaronSoper of Kingsway, was born in Knoll Road, Kingsway, London, on 31January 1903.

The centenary celebration, scripted by Brian Frost, takes a lookat Lord Soper's insight into the life and mission of the church inthe world, including material from his renowned soapbox days atHyde Park and Tower Hill. As well as extracts from his manywritings and interviews, the congregation sings some of LordSoper's favourite hymns.

Lord Soper was a popular public figure best known for hiswillingness to swap pulpit for soapbox. He was a public speaker atTower Hill, London, on Wednesdays for more than 60 years and atSpeakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London, on Sundays for 40 years.

He was for many years a columnist on the Tribune as well as afrequent broadcaster. An ardent pacifist (he was an early supporterof CND), he was created a Life Peer in 1965 and took his seat amongthe Labour benches in the House of Lords.

A Cambridge University graduate, Donald Soper took on his firstappointment as a Methodist minister in 1926 and was SuperintendentMinister of the West London Methodist Minister for over fourdecades between 1936-78. He was President of the British MethodistConference in 1953-4. He married Marie Dean who died in 1994 - thecouple had four daughters and nine grandchildren.