The gospel of 'nomad' Peter, new Grantham minister
The new minister of ChristChurch in Grantham has a message for us all.
That through dedication and perseverance, you can succeed.
He cites his own life which began in Morden, Surrey, where his early connections with the church included taking money from the collection pot.
Now, some 50 years later, the Rev Peter Stevenson is to run the church in a joint pastorate with a Stamford United Reformed Church.
A formal induction service takes place at ChristChurch, in Finkin Street, tomorrow (Saturday) at 2.30pm, with a less formal welcome service at the reformed church in Star Lane, Stamford on Sunday at 10.30am.
The Rev Peter, who is now 61, recalls an early life as a ‘nomad’.
He said: “I was told at school, I wouldn’t amount to anything and I should follow my dad as a dustman. For 20 years, I believed it.”
A succession of jobs followed, including being a milkman, postman, toupee company representative, salesman, insurance seller, financial adviser, cleaner and aircraft cleaner.
His first marriage ended with his wife telling him to “peruse other interests,” something which led him to become “a bit of a drinker” at a pretty low time in his life.
But on finding a second wife, life took a turn one night when their son was born nine weeks prematurely.
“It was on that night when I was driving back from hospital and Gladys Knight and the Pips was on the cassette player, singing ‘help me through the night’.
“The tears started to flow and I said, ‘If you are there God, if he survives the night, I’m yours. My son Adam is now 33.”
The Rev Peter became more involved with the church but it was a long process, as they initially did not believe he was “clever enough”.
But that spurred him on to try again and he ended up going to Cambridge, where the university was offering a bachelor of theology, its first degree in a hundred years.
“They were looking for people to fill the places,” he said. “They put me on it and four years later I was conferred with a bachelor of theology.
“This was particularly thrilling after being written off by everybody. Because of my diligence and dedication to my work, I was then invited to Princeton to do a doctorate. My dissertation was on community ministry.”
He graduated in Princeton in 2009 aged 52 and laughs: “They say education is wasted on the young.”
The Rev Peter wrote a few books and ministered in Coventry and also the Elephant and Castle in London. He arrived in the area only this month.
“[This] wasn’t somewhere I expected to be. I am sure God has called me here, though I don’t know his purpose,” he said.
“It’s going to be great looking after the Stamford United Reform Church and the ecumenical parishes. They are such a loving group of of people who could not have given me a better welcome.”
The Rev Peter has moved into Stamford with wife Dawn, who, as a coffee maker in London, is now looking for work locally. Their two adult children live in London but are looking forward to weekends in the town.
Already, the Rev Peter has been busy with church affairs, getting to know his new flock, with services including the Alive Church, Messy Church, and Harrowby Lane, Grantham.
He says he has ideas and vision about what he hopes to do and all will be revealed in time.
He added: “I have a lot of enthusiasm and drive.”
The regular contributor to BBC Radio London was also a contestant on TV’s ‘Total Wipeout’ game show 10 years ago.
Read moreHuman Interest
More by this authorDarren Greenwood