by Bernard R. DeRemer
G. Campbell Morgan never attended college or seminary, yet he:
• Occupied distinguished pastorates;
• Won wide acclaim as an outstanding Bible teacher;
• Sat, at various times, on the faculties of three schools, and headed a college;
• Wrote some 60 volumes circulated throughout the English-speaking world.
George Campbell Morgan was born at Tetbury, England, in 1863. He grew up in a godly home, where his father was an independent Baptist minister with Brethren leanings.
Being somewhat frail as a child, he received his early education at home. The family situation demanded his early employment, so he taught school for a time.
However, he had always "played at preaching." As a youngster, he would line up his sister's dolls for an audience. At 13 he preached his first sermon, in a Methodist chapel, but did not immediately embark upon his life work.
By his early twenties he was well known locally as a Bible teacher. In 1883, during D. L. Moody's second visit to England, Morgan worked tirelessly in the inquiry room and this began a fruitful, lifelong relationship. An associate pointed out that Morgan strategically "came to his work immediately following the great evangelistic campaigns of Moody and Sankey, when new converts needed the work of the Bible teacher to strengthen and deepen their faith."
Morgan settled at the little town of Stone, in Staffordshire; there he pastored the Congregational Church and in 1890 was ordained.
In 1896 he first visited the U.S.,where he attended the Northfield, Massachusetts, conferences founded by D. L. Moody. At the outset he was simply a silent, unknown listener in the crowd. Soon, however, he found himself speaking from the same platform as some of the greatest leaders in the Christian world.
Next he ministered at the Institute in Chicago (now Moody Bible Institute), where he "gave himself to classroom work with a zest and enjoyment that was a memorable and satisfying experience for both student and instructor."
Back home in Britain he became pastor of the New Court Church, Tollington Park, London. (He crossed the Atlantic no fewer than 54 times, long before jet planes decimated distances.)
Returning to the U.S., from 1901-1904 he lectured at Northfield. His daughter Kathleen, who traveled extensively with her father in the U.S. and Canada, declared, "Some of his sermons I know almost word for word, and yet they never grow stale; they are never the same. Always he makes them fresh and new, and every time he preaches them I find new light thrown upon their theme."
In 1904 he began the first of two influential ministries at Westminster Chapel in London, which lasted until 1917. The New 20th Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge noted that his Friday Night Bible School, in which he taught the Bible analytically and systematically, drew large crowds and had a wide influence through the extensive distribution of the Westminster Bible Record.
One unusual organization Morgan founded was the "sisterhood"-a group of consecrated women willing to devote themselves and much of their time to assisting the pastoral and educational work of the church.
Morgan established a fund for the benefit of about 50 ministers from all parts of England. Those men, rarely able to attend study groups or even leave their small, often difficult fields, would receive travel expenses and board at Mundesley Conference. This ideal holiday provided these servants of the Lord great inspiration and cheer.
Next, Morgan became president of Cheshunt College, Cambridge, in 1911, which was "in desperate straits, both structurally and financially." Many well-to-do friends responded to his appeals, so that later he was said to be largely responsible for the magnificent buildings which now house the college.
During World War I he led a movement to see that soldiers were supplied with Testaments. A contemporary also recalled:
"In those days of bewilderment and alarm, when it seemed that the very foundations of our national life were shaking, Dr. Morgan's sermons with their note of confident assurance that God reigned, and that wrong would be worsted, allayed the anxieties of thousands of trembling hearts. I can recall no intervention by any preacher in a time of crises which produced so powerful an effect. Dr. Morgan served the whole nation in that grim hour."
Samuel Chadwick called Morgan a nomad. Indeed, much of his ministry was itinerant. From 1919-32 he traveled extensively through the U. S. and Canada; he also served one year on the faculty of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) and a similar period as lecturer at Gordon College, Boston.
A few highlights from that period, when he visited almost every state:
• In Chattanooga, "the church was crowded and some were turned away";
• In Toledo, on a bitterly cold night, every seat in the church was filled;
• In St. Louis, "the place was packed out by 7:15 so we started the service";
• At Dayton, Ohio, "a pouring wet night but the church was crowded."
A contemporary gave this vivid description of the "...tall, slender figure which scarcely fills out the rich gown of silk and velvet. There was always something gracious, attractive, benign in Dr. Morgan's outward appearance.... There was not a harsh note in his utterance, either in prayer or preaching. Healthily tanned by sun and sea-wind, he comes amongst us with energies unimpaired...."
Many found his friendship an inestimable blessing. One testified, "Once he takes you to his heart you are grappled to him with hoops of steel."
Morgan accomplished so much in preaching and writing by diligent study habits, rising early and retiring late. By 5 a.m. he was at his desk, with notebook and Bible spread before him. Also, he studied during his extensive train travels, thus further redeeming the time.
Still, he found opportunity for recreation; he was an avid golfer, who also enjoyed tennis and horseback riding.
Morgan married Annie Morgan, a cousin, better known as "Nancy." They had four sons, all of whom entered the ministry, and two daughters.
Alas, years brought limitations. By 1941, growing weakness reduced him to one service a week-quite a change from the long years in which he conducted twelve in that period!
On May 16, 1945, he "passed peacefully home in the sunset...to the Father's house."
Memorial services and tributes, on both sides of the ocean, were legion. Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, his successor at Westminster, declared that "there never was a man, surely, of whom it could be said more truly that he belonged to all the churches as Dr. Morgan."