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What’s Up with This Old Desk? “Uncle John’s” (John Stott) Connections to Trinity


The library recently received several items from John Stott’s personal study: his desk, bookshelf, and chair. These items are currently being displayed adjacent to the John and Susan Woodbridge Reading Room in Rolfing Library.

A bunch of us seminary students were geeking out (see here and here). It’s pretty neat. I mean, we just received a crate from England containing a bunch of John Stott’s personal belongings! Michael Cromartie once said, “If evangelicals elected popes, they would have chosen Stott.” Well, if that’s true, than I guess that means that if evangelicals had relics, this desk would be one of them!

But maybe you’re wondering, why? Why did we receive these materials? What’s so special about Trinity? How did we manage to make a successful bid to receive these things?

I was not previously aware of this; but apparently John Stott had some significant connections with Trinity, some connections that made Trinity a natural place to display these items.

So, in order to learn more about these connections and share them with you, I visited our very own Dr. Greg Scharf, a student, mentoree, and friend of Stott, who he (among others) affectionately refers to as “uncle John.”


John Stott offered Bible expositions six times at InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Missions Conference. During this time many Trinity students had contact with Stott and his preaching.

In addition, Stott frequently visited Trinity, preaching numerous times in chapel.

And for one term, the Fall semester of 1972, Stott even taught preaching courses at TEDS.

A claim to fame–TEDS was the first American school to award Stott with an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) degree (1971). And because Dr. Stott did his undergraduate studies at Trinity College of Cambridge University, Scharf noted that Stott would jokingly refer to his educational experience as “Trinity” from first to last.

In 1974, Stott founded what became the Langham Partnership International (formerly known in the U.S. as John Stott Ministries) which seeks “to see churches in the Majority World equipped for mission and growing to maturity in Christ through the ministry of pastors and leaders who believe, teach and live by the Word of God.” Among other things, this organization grants scholarships for Majority World students to receive theological education. Many such students have attended TEDS, furthering Stott’s ties with the institution.

Dr. Scharf himself is a significant connecting point between Stott and Trinity. When Stott came and taught preaching courses in ’72, Scharf was actually one of his students. Later Scharf would accept an internship under Stott at All Souls and even join the church staff for two years. During this time, Scharf was mentored by Stott. And finally, Scharf was on the board of the Langham Partnership for a time and has written for their publishing house.

Thus, when Dr. Scharf made a bid, Stott’s connections with Trinity as well as Dr. Scharf in particular made Trinity a natural recipient for these items from Stott’s study.

A great thanks to Dr. Scharf for helping me with this project, entertaining my inquiries, fact checking my article, and being willing to answer any questions I had.