NSW mourns Sir Marcus Loane

Posted on April 15, 2009 
Filed under News

Sir Marcus LoanePress Release from the NSW Council of Churches

“He was a wonderful Bible teacher who expounded the Scriptures and made them clear to us.” – Deaconess Margaret Rodgers.

The NSW Council of Churches extends its condolences to the family of the Most Reverend Marcus Lawrence Loane KBE, former Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, who died on Monday in Sydney, aged 97.

Ordained in 1935, Sir Marcus was the first Australian-born Archbishop of Sydney, serving from 1966 to 1982, and was Primate of Australia from 1978 to 1982. He was vice-principal of Moore Theological College from 1939 to 1953, and Principal from 1954 to 1959. He served as Chaplain to the Australian Imperial Forces in New Guinea from 1942 to 1944. 

“Sir Marcus was a remarkable leader who served both church and nation,” the Honorary President of the NSW Council of Churches, Archbishop Peter Jensen, said. “In national life he offered leadership which transcended politics.  In particular he spoke up for the poor and helped spark the Henderson Inquiry of the early 1970s. But he will be remembered most as one of the key architects of post-war Anglicanism in Sydney.”

A formal and reserved man of simple tastes and possessing a fine sense of humour, Sir Marcus was perhaps best known for his engaging preaching and prolific writing. He wrote 27 books on subjects ranging from theology and biblical studies to evangelical biography.

Deaconess Margaret Rodgers, the President of the NSW Council of Churches, remembers Sir Marcus as a great Christian scholar. “He was a wonderful Bible teacher who expounded the Scriptures and made them clear to us. When I was a student at Moore Theological College, he was still teaching New Testament, and his lectures were not only scholarly but very moving spiritual experiences,” she said.

“Sir Marcus also encouraged greater fellowship among the Heads of Churches in NSW, and it was he who encouraged and invited Dr Billy Graham to come to Australia for his 1979 Crusade, on the 20th anniversary of his 1959 Crusade, fifty years ago this month, which proved to be a watershed moment in the spiritual life of this state,” Deaconess Rodgers said.

NSW Council of Churches Public Affairs Director Rod Benson said he knew Sir Marcus principally from the strength of his published works, especially his New Testament studies and evangelical biography. “It was for good reason that he was hailed as the ‘rock’ of the church in Sydney and throughout Australia. Sir Marcus was an exemplar of the core convictions of the NSW Council of Churches, faithful to the gospel and engaged in the world, and he will be greatly missed.”

In the foreword to Bishop John Reid’s 2005 biography of Sir Marcus, Roderick West writes, “Only the Lord knows how many lives this man has refreshed and invigorated. Profoundly respected and loved internationally and throughout his homeland, he has sustained a personal ministry to countless numbers … Everything he was and did has been ad maiorem Dei gloriam [for the greater glory of God].”

At a dinner on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Dr Stuart Barton Babbage, a longtime friend, proposed a toast to Sir Marcus, describing him in an acrostic as “magisterial, archiepiscopal, reformed, conservative, uncompromising, and single-minded.” In reply, Sir Marcus quoted eighteenth-century evangelical Anglican Charles Simeon’s words, “I seem to be so near the goal, that I cannot but run with all my might.”

Seventeen years later, Sir Marcus has reached the goal, a good and faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the gospel which saved him and which he proclaimed with joy.

Sir Marcus is survived by his wife Patricia, four children, 17 grandchildren, and 27 great-grandchildren.

– from the NSW Council of Churches. (Photo: Ramon Williams.)