I chose to read this book because every time I’ve heard Archbishop Mowll spoken of in Australian history, it has been in reverent tones. I now understand something of why.
For those who don’t know who Mowll was, he was Anglican Archbishop of Sydney from 1934-1958, a regular acquaintance of the Royal Family, and the man who first invited Billy Graham to Australia in 1958. When he died that same year, 150,000 people lined the streets of Sydney to farewell him.
Of course I’m not at all sympathetic to Anglicanism on a number of points. Still, it is historically undeniable that the Evangelical strand of the Anglican church has championed the gospel for centuries and given us such men as Hugh Latimer, Isaac Watts, John Newton, Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and Charles Simeon not to mention such more recent figures as C. S. Lewis, John Stott, Alister McGrath, Iain Murray, Phillip Jensen, Peter Jensen, etc.
I was particularly interested in Mowll because the Sydney diocese of the Anglican church is among the most conservative in the world. It seems to me that the Anglicans in this diocese hold tenaciously to the fundamentals of the faith, are aggressively evangelistic, and are perhaps the leading Evangelical publishers in Australia. That is, in some significant part, the legacy of Archbishop Mowll.
Mowll was born in England and trained at Cambridge before working for some years in Canada and then serving as a bishop in China for a decade before taking up the position of Archbishop of Sydney, and later Primate of Australia.
Mowll seemed to gain the respect of ministers all across Australia and indeed around the world. He spent much of his life travelling covering five continents in a time when travel was not as simple as it is today. He ministered on the Canadian frontier, was held for ransom in China, and served as a military chaplain in World War I. His gifts were used by God to keep Sydney a strongly Evangelical diocese. Mowll went to great pains to build and protect the autonomy of the diocese in theological matters so that their position would not be dictated through the hierarchy.
There is much more worth sharing about this man’s life, but I’ll content myself to recommend this biography heartily and close with one incident which occurred after Mowll’s death. It had been, as mentioned above, Mowll who first invited Billy Graham to hold a crusade in Australia in 1959. It is said that Mowll was the only man capable of uniting Sydney’s churches for such an event. Mowll passed away before Graham arrived, but when Graham did arrive, he said he’d never been in a city where the influence of one man—Archbishop Mowll—was so powerfully evident.
I rejoiced as I read to see how God used Howard Mowll for the furtherance and preservation of the gospel in Australia.
Grace to you.