Roberts, Dr Harold
1896-1982; e.m. 1919

Methodist statesman, born at Ashley, Cheshire on 20 September 1896 and brought up in Welsh Methodism in Manchester. He was educated at the University College of North Wales, Bangor and Wesley House, Cambridge. A friend of Donald O. Soper, Leslie D. Weatherhead and William E. Sangster, all of whom consulted him, he was considered a better preacher than any of them, but a less effective writer. As minister at Wesley Memorial Church, Oxford 1929-1934, the 'LD' (Learned Doctor) had an immense influence over a mixed group of undergraduates, including Harold Loukes, A.Raymond George, Rupert E. and Margaret *Davies. At the Methodist Church Congress in 1931 he spoke on 'The Life of Prayer'.

He became tutor in theology, first at Headingley College (1934-1940), then at Richmond College (1940-1968, with a wartime interlude in the Ipswich Circuit) where he was Principal from 1955. Through his report on The Mission and Message of Methodism (1946) he had much influence on the post-war Church. In 1951 he visited Australia as the Cato Lecturer. As Methodist Chairman of the Anglican-Methodist Conversations he was responsible both for the scheme devised and for defending and commending it to his fellow Methodists. He was President of the 1957 Conference and President of the World Methodist Council 1951-1956, helping to set up a new mechanism for linking World Methodism more closely, moderating some of the American ideas and ensuring a place for Third World participation. During his visit to Lake Junaluska for the 1956 World Methodist Conference he was made an honorary member of the Cherokee Indian tribe. He was Chairman of the Governors of both Westminster and Southlands Colleges during the post-war period of growth and change. He encouraged women and the younger generation (e.g. Pauline M. Webb) to speak in Conference. After his marriage in 1972 to Myra Johnson, he lived in Tunbridge Wells, where he died on 4 October 1982.

  • Times, 7 Oct 1982
  • Conference Handbook, 1957
  • Methodist Recorder, 11 July 1957; 21 Oct. 1982
  • The Old Chariot, 1968
  • John H. Lenton, Harold Roberts (Peterborough, 1995)