Regular readers of R&R will know that I often post articles which relate to my work at West London Mission. We are part of the Methodist Church and run a wide range of social and community projects for people affected by homelessness, poverty and trauma.
Activism and controversy
One of the ‘big characters’ from WLM’s history is Rev Donald Soper (right) who was Superintendent Minister of WLM for 30 years. Soper was an inspirational and energetic Methodist. Even when he was over 90 years old, he still preached every week at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. He established many of the social projects which WLM runs today.
He was also no stranger to controversy. He was an ardent pacifist and was banned from broadcasting by the BBC during the Second World War. He later played a significant role in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and was Chairman of the homelessness campaigning group, Shelter. His activism led him to taking a place in the House of Lord’s in the 1960s.
Whenever I speak anywhere about WLM, many older people remember Soper well. People remember his public speaking, his social concern – and his fondness for an argument!
In many ways, I think the church leader who is most like Donald Soper today is the Rev. Steve Chalke.
Like Soper, Steve Chalke oversees a major operation in the charity Oasis. This charity, which Chalke founded, today runs a wide range of community services, including 49 schools and employs over 5000 staff. Alongside this, he has also remained a local church leader at the Oasis Church in Waterloo.
Like Soper, Chalke has been a significant spokesperson on issues of inclusion and social justice. He is a former UN Adviser on Human Trafficking and has written over 40 books many on social activism. I would say has been the most significant advocate for Christian social engagement in the UK in the last 20 years.
And like Soper, Chalke has generated controversy. His views, especially around gay relationships, the theology of inclusion and how we should read the Bible, have created huge debate within the Church.
WLM’s Annual Meeting
Finally, like Soper, Steve is also a highly engaging speaker. So I am really pleased to say that he is speaking at WLM’s Annual Celebration on Monday 2nd July 2018. The evening will include an update on WLM’s work over the past year.
The evening will start with refreshments at Hinde Street Methodist Church (near Bond Street) at 6.30pm. Presentations and talk will commence at 7.00pm and finish by 8.30pm.
The event is free and if you want to book a place then please go to our Eventbrite page