Funeral of Jesus Army founder to be screened

So many people are expected to turn out for the funeral service, at the former Deco Theatre in Abington Square, that the main hall is expected to be full and organisers are preparing for an overflow audience.

A thanksgiving service for the founder of the evangelical Jesus Army church, Noel Stanton, will be relayed via a video link through the group's headquarters in Northampton.

Mr Stanton, aged 82, died on Wednesday after suffering from an undisclosed illness. He had already handed the leadership of the church to his successor Mick Haines.

Jesus Army spokesman John Campbell said Mr Stanton had already set out several details for his own memorial.

He said: "He has chosen the specific music he wanted us to use, and it was his wish for the memorial to be held at the Jesus Centre.

"That was important to him because it was part of his philosophy that the church should be at the centre of everything, and should be open to its members seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

"We are expecting a very large number of people at the Thanksgiving service, so several extra rooms are also being prepared. The service will be shown via a video link because we are expecting that there will be an overflow."

The Jesus Fellowship Church was founded in Bugbrooke in 1969 after Mr Stanton became pastor at the village Baptist church, and spread across Northamptonshire and the country. There are currently about 3,500 members in 24 congregations across the UK.

It began after Mr Stanton and his congregation members shared an"intoxicating and exhilarating" religious experience, and has courted controversy since its members began living together in communities in 1975.

Mr Stanton was unmarried and lived within the church community. Following the Thanksgiving service, he will be interred at the Jesus Fellowship graveyard near Pattishall.

The service at the Jesus Centre will take place on Saturday, May 30, starting at 1pm.