(Photo: Langham Partnership International)
Evangelical Christian leaders from around the world are mourning the death of evangelical figure John Stott, who died Wednesday at the age of 90.
Stott, known for shaping 20th century evangelicalism through his writing and preaching, died 3:15 p.m. in his retirement home at St. Barnabas College, located 30 miles away from London. He was surrounded by his longtime secretary Frances Whitehead and close friends who read Scriptures and listened to Handel's "Messiah" when he passed.
An Anglican theologian from the U.K., Stott was the chief architect of the 1974 Lausanne Covenant and the author of over 50 Christian books in which he took complex theology and explained it in a way lay people could understand. One of his most popular books was Basic Christianity (1958), which has been translated into more than 60 languages, according to Christian book publisher InterVarsity Press. He has also influenced millions of Christians through other well-known titles including Christ the Controversialist (1970), Issues Facing Christians Today (1984) and the one he always considered his best: The Cross of Christ (1986).
In 2005, Stott was featured in TIME magazine as one of the world's "100 Most Influential People."
Despite his wide influence on the evangelical faith, many fondly knew him as "Uncle John."
When news broke of his death, evangelical leaders immediately posted statements to mourn and honor Stott as a beloved mentor and one of the greatest evangelical thinkers of his time.
"The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen," famed U.S. evangelist Billy Graham said in a statement.
"I have lost one of my close personal friends and advisors. I look forward to seeing him again when I go to Heaven."
Graham helped organize the international meeting that unveiled the Lausanne Covenant, a historic document that served as a manifesto for Christian evangelism worldwide. When he heard of Stott's death from his assistant, Graham shed tears and was speechless, his grandson Tullian Tchividjian said via Twitter.
California megachurch pastor Rick Warren called Stott one of his "closest mentors."
"I flew to the UK recently just to pray for him &sit by his bed. What a giant!" the Saddleback Church pastor tweeted.
Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance, the largest global body of evangelicals, said he was personally impacted by Stott's teachings.
“Uncle John, was a great influence in my own theological development. His commitment to biblical orthodoxy, global mission and unity in the body of Christ were foundational in my own spiritual journey,” said Tunnicliffe in a statement.
Stott was the primary author of the Preamble to the 1951 constitution of the WEA, which today represents 600 million evangelicals in 128 countries. In the document, Stott provided a biblical framework and the three primary purposes for the existence of the WEA.
A major legacy that Stott left to the world church is the Langham Partnership International and its U.S. chapter John Stott Ministries. The organization trains preachers, funds doctoral education for evangelical thinkers and provides evangelical books to pastors around the world.
Chris Wright, international director of Langham Partnership International, issued a statement on the John Stott Memorial website celebrating the preacher's Christ-like character.
"Like Moses, he was one of the greatest leaders God has given to his people, and yet at the same time, one of the humblest men on the face of the earth. He was, for all of us who knew him, a walking embodiment of the simple beauty of Jesus, whom he loved above all else," wrote Wright.
Lausanne Movement executive chair S. Douglas Birdsall and international director Lindsay Brown said in a joint statement:
"We are saddened by his departure, but strengthened with the knowledge that his great confidence and his lifelong hope in Christ has now been made real to him, and his life’s work has been vindicated."
They noted that Stott's "greatest contribution was to articulate clearly and to defend robustly the evangelical faith which he always understood to be biblical faith, grounded in the New Testament."
The Langham Partnership International is welcoming those affected by the life and ministry of John Stott to post their comments in an online remembrance book on the John Stott Memorial website. Information on memorials and event commemorating the life of Stott will also be released on the site.