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Tribute to Ian Hore-Lacy (1940-2021)

Monday, 13 December 2021  | Various

Ian was the InterVarsity, then AFES, representative on the board from the earliest days of the Zadok Institute for Christianity & Society in 1976. One of our best writers, Ian Barns, had been strongly influenced at Melbourne University when Ian Hore-Lacy was staffworker. Ian Hore-Lacy managed to maintain good relationships even with people he strongly disagreed with, something I once wrote is what Zadok/Ethos has always aspired to. He remained on the board for at least 20 years and maintained a strong interest even when he had strong disagreements, sometimes with the first word being ‘rubbish’.

Ian mentored many young men, in Australia and in the UK. Several, like one English Conservative, and Remy Chadwick, recent winner of young Christian writer of the year, were connected to us through Ian, as he sought mutual flourishing in the cause of Christ.

Only a year or two before Covid, Ian proposed that he talk to AFES at Melbourne University about mentoring some of their members. He showed me his excellent 2-3 page draft on the kind of reading and resources that could help young university students grow in their faith and studies in an integrated way – his great passion, along with his great love of science. The collection featured Ethos, Christians in Science & Technology (ISCAST), CPX and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, amongst others.

Though tragic, it is somehow fitting in God’s providential sovereignty that Ian died enjoying two of his great loves - God’s creation and mentoring young men in it - on bush trips like his most recent and last.

- Gordon Preece, Director, Ethos


I met Ian in 2016 and he immediately insisted upon mentoring me. It took a little while for me to warm up to the idea - his persistence, generosity and readiness to be vulnerable (combined with the wide initial differences in our circumstances and social circles) triggered cynicism on my part. I am enormously grateful that he patiently waited out my narrow-mindedness. One of Ian's defining features is that he was determined to bless others as God led him to, social mores be damned. It was this I think that enabled us to build a mentor-mentee relationship

Humility is not a virtue of mine, but Ian always saw far more in me than I see in myself. He frequently said that he got more out of the mentoring than I did. This was an extraordinary thing to say because I don't know anyone other than my parents or my wife who have invested more in my life than he did. Virtually all my writing over the past five years can be attributed to his fierce expectations that I would 'pull the finger out'. (This time last year I wrote a Screwtape letter after spending all night in the rain in a swag in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere, thanks to Ian talking it over with me over breakfast the next day.) He introduced me to a panoply of people, fought for me daily in prayer, nurtured in me a love for the bush and 4wding and invested resources so I could grow in ministry and the call to the arts (including copious amounts of meat, potatoes and wine). We had furious political debates which funnily enough produced greater fellowship and perspective across our social divide. Ian had no clue what it would all amount to but he trusted God and gave himself unreservedly.

Ian was unusual for his generation in that he was eager to talk openly about uncomfortable things because he understood, as not many do. that God often works most powerfully in the mess. This led him to sometimes skirt dangerously around things like 'properness' and the private illusions that keep us in the comfort of mediocrity that he abhorred. But though his life was full of worldly achievements, Ian referred to himself (at least to me) as 'an old fart'. He seemed far more excited about the potential of others than he was in the very substantial contributions he himself made to our society. This is because he was devoted to a fault to the biblical vision of stewardship - that it is more blessed to give than to receive, that God has provided infinitely if we choose to see it, and that human beings exist to testify to glory rather than accumulate it.

How could Ian say that he got more out of mentoring than his mentees? It is a testament to the child-like delight he experienced from seeing those he loves flourish. In this sense Ian had God's soft heart of flesh and spiritual vision, matured beyond the ordinary person's and yet constantly open to learning. God's love is exhilarated by his people growing into who they were supposed to be - this was Ian's experience and resolve.

I can't account for all the threads that remain in my life from my friendship with Ian, but I and other mentees are determined to carry on his legacy. One of the reasons I know he loved that river spot so much was that, the five times he took me there, he would say the same things about it every single bloody time! So painful as it may be, I look forward to going back.

If I can share two bright moments among countless more: one was his eyebrow-raised response to the way I cut up a leg of pork on a trip (into 4 quarters rather than sliced; 'the French way' he noted) and the other was how he allowed a very eager (overconfident) mentee to twice slide the Prado down a steep hill on his first trip up Zeka Spur, before himself taking the wheel and sliding down a third time. Somehow we all made it out.

- Remy Chadwick


I join with the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who testify to Ian Hore-Lacy’s perseverance in running the race that God had marked out for him. Ian has been known to me for as long as I can remember, probably first through the Research Scientists Christian Fellowship (precursor to ISCAST) which met in my family home; my father John Upton was also a member. Then, as many have attested, through the AFES, Zadok/Ethos, CMS connections and as a continuing family friend, long after my father was taken home to be with his Saviour too.

As I reflected on what I could add to the many words of accolade and appreciation for what Ian has done throughout his life, three things have stood out to me. Fading into the twilight of his life was not an option – he ministered until the end. He let his passion for his Saviour rule is life in his service of others, particularly in his mentoring of so many. He also encapsulated the ethos of Ethos – the ability to have dialogue across different opinions in a thoughtful and respectful way. I can disagree with my fellow human being, but first and foremost they are my brother or sister in Christ, whom I love. And lastly, the question that was on the lips of many at his Memorial Service – ‘Why was he taken too soon?’ We may never know, but we can all certainly learn from him, and he is God’s reminder to us that we should all be doing what he spent his life doing: serving God in whatever way possible, praying, mentoring, thinking, learning and discussing, and more, to the glory of God and the edification of us all. However big or small our ministry is, we should always be pursuing it, and we should never stop running the race.

- Deborah Upton


Dear ISCAST fellows and associates,

I am so sad to have to write to inform you of the tragic death of ISCAST fellow Ian Hore-Lacy on Thursday. Ian drowned while on a camping trip north of Bairnsdale.

As well as a lifetime of service to mission in Australia (AFES, Zadok, etc.), Ian has been an ISCAST stalwart for many years. Long before climate change and "green issues" started dominating the media, Ian was wrestling with what it means for humans to fulfil their God-given calling to exercise "responsible dominion" over the planet. He also wrote a book by that name.

Ian was a scientist, a lay theologian, a global expert on nuclear power, and a man without guile who said what he believed without fear or favour. And, while he had a booming voice and powerful presence, he was a kind man with a big heart.

If you knew Ian and would be happy to write a short public tribute (a sentence or a paragraph), we will post a news item on the ISCAST site with your tributes. Please send them to me.

The Melbourne funeral details are not confirmed at this stage but will be posted on the ISCAST site when confirmed.

Please remember Ian's wife Libby in your prayers along with children Anna, Will, Fiona, Dave, and their families.

- Chris Mulherin, Executive Director, ISCAST–Christians in Science and Technology


Photo source:


Ian’s funeral will be held on Wednesday, 15th December 2021 at 10am at St Alfred's Anglican Church, 107 Springfield Road, Blackburn North, Vic. The service will also be livestreamed at If you plan to attend in person, please allow time to park and check-in. Due to COVID restrictions only those who are fully vaccinated can attend.

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