He was born on 14 October 1893 at Harlesden, London into a Methodist family. He was educated at Richmond College and obtained an MA from Manchester University in 1926. During World War I he became a chaplain to the Devonshire Regiment and from 1919 to 1922 served the English Methodist Church in Madras. After an outstanding ministry at Brunswick Chapel, Leeds (1925-36) he was tipped to be appointed to Wesley's Chapel, London, but this met with the disapproval of Dr. J. Scott Lidgett. Instead, though permitted to retain his status as a Methodist minister, he became minister of the City Temple, London, where he drew great crowds. When the building was destroyed by enemy action, he held the congregation together in the Anglican Church of St Sepulchre's until the new City Temple was built.
As a preacher he was known throughout the world, owing much to his impressive appearance and beautiful voice. He had a clarity of thought and expression which enabled him to convey truth in a way ordinary folk could understand. When he was iinvited in 1948 to give the Lyman Beecher Lectures on preaching at Yale University, he was the only Britsh Methodist apart from Donald Soper to do so. In addition to his London PhD, he received honorary doctorates from Edinburgh and two American universities, California and Puget Sound.
He was a prolific writer. His Psychology, Religion and Healing (1951), based on his doctoral thesis, reflected his pioneer work in that field and he established clinics for the treatment of nervous disorders, developing helpful partnerships with distinguished medical men. He became President of the Institute of Religion and Medicine in 1966. He gave the Peake Memorial Lecture of 1962, 'Salute to a Sufferer'. In The Christian Agnostic (1965) he expounded aspects of the liberal theology which informed his preaching. He was made a freeman of the City of London and was President of the Conference in 1955. In 1959 he was made a CBE . The Transforming Friendship (of Christ) - the title of one of his books (1928) - was at the heart of his ministry. He died at Bexhill on 3 January 1976.
,Weatherhead had style and a panache in preaching without becoming a mere pulpiteer. He cared for people, and his prayers in public worship had a winsome ;personal touch which made the worshipper feel that it was his prayer too. In later years, since his retirement, he had come to be ill at ease withtheoganised Church and was critical of traditional theology and of the church's leadership.'
' Weatherhead's way of doing theology did not find approval in sections of the Church which had moved to the right theologically and biiblically. He believed in pursuing the truth wherever it was to be found, in arts and science and literature and in the sacred books of other faiths … One aspect of his courage was his willingness to run the gauntlet of public ridicule by exploring ideas and areas which are widely regarded as cranky, such as spiritualism, reincarnation,out-of-the-body experiences, psychic healing and the like.'
Colin Morris in Methodist Recorder, 21 October 2016
Entry written by: KGG
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