The Passing of a Pastor's Pastor

ChristianityToday reported that Eugene Peterson died this past Monday, in his home state of Montana, with his family by his side. Earlier this year Billy Graham, and then Dallas Willard passed away. Peterson is most well known for his paraphrased writing of the Old and New Testament called The Message. He was born November 6th, 1932 and became the founding pastor of Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air Maryland in 1962, where he served for 29 years. During that time he wrote Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work; 1980; A Long Obedience in the Same Direction; 1980;  Where is Your Treasure; 1985; Working the Angles; 1987; The Contemplative Pastor; 1989; Under the Unpredictable Plant; in 1992; Subversive Spirituality; 1994; The Unnecessary Pastor, Rediscovering the Call; 2000, each of which I have on my shelf. Peterson wrote over 30 books, with his last one still waiting to be published. After retiring from ministry in 1992, he and his wife Jan moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where he took the James Houston Chair of Spiritual Theology. While serving in Abbotsford, I was able to audit one of his Monday evening courses on Spirituality, taking on the one and a half hour drive each week, to drink from the wisdom of his well. Of his last days, his family said; “During the previous days it was apparent that he was navigating the thin and sacred space between heaven and earth.”  They stated, “We overheard him speaking to people we can only presume were welcoming him into paradise.” I can remember, like so many pastors of my generation, being encouraged to remain faithful in loving God’s people and proclaiming the gospel in all its glory. “Among his final words, were “let’s go.” And his joy, my, oh my. The man remained joyful right up to his blessed end, smiling frequently. In such moments its best for all mortal flesh to keep silence. But if you have to say something, say “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Many pastors around North America grieve the loss of this genuinely gracious and generous writer, shepherd and friend. There has been a great cloud of witnesses who have already gone before us, for which we are grateful. And a new generation of God’s faithfulness is rising among us. Eugene Peterson is now continuing his long obedience in the same direction, with his risen Lord.

                                                                                                                                                              Pastor Sid

Karin Terpstra