Opened on Sunday 24 February 1957 before a crowd of 3,000 people, St Mark’s grew from the vision of Bishop Ernest Burgmann for “an institution which would become like a permeable membrane between the church and the university work done in a secular city”.
The original library was to provide a place for serious theological scholarship which Burgmann saw as being linked to the very fate of Australia. “Burgie” hoped St Mark’s would become a place of leadership training and postgraduate research in theology.
The original vision has been reinterpreted over the last four decades to reflect unexpected changes and circumstances.
The education and research role of St Mark’s was formally recognised in 1967 when the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn created the Institute of Public Theology which incorporated the Library. In 1971, the Diocese established the Canberra College of Ministry to prepare candidates for the ordained ministry. In 1978, the College moved into a specially built extension of St Mark’s and in 1989 the Institute of Public Theology, the Library and the College were formally amalgamated into a new body, St Mark’s National Theological Centre.
In the late 1980s, Burgmann’s biographer concluded, “St Mark’s nevertheless found a niche at levels other than that intended by Burgmann, training clergy and lay people in a variety of theological concerns. It remains a powerful reminder of the Burgmann inheritance.”
A new era began in 1995 when St Mark’s entered into a partnership with Charles Sturt University, co-founding the School of Theology with United Theological College. This collaboration, through CSU’s distance education program, opened up the study of theology with St Mark’s through higher education to people throughout Australia and overseas.
St Mark’s became a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in February 2004, enabling us to issue nationally recognised qualifications and Statements of Attainment within the Australian Qualifications Framework.