Peter served the Lord in the Diocese of Armidale for virtually his entire ministry. His influence was wide-spread throughout the diocese over several decades. Together with his close friend the late John (Chappo) Chapman he helped open the diocese to “gospel men”. Certainly, as a Bishop, he encouraged Bible believing ministers to come into the diocese. At the same time he was willing to allow parishes to have the type of ministry they desired when that was possible.
My wife Carole and I were warmly welcomed into the Diocese when I accepted his invitation to become the Dean of the Cathedral in 1978. As a result, our family was privileged to be able to live in the beautiful city of Armidale for 10 years and to minister to the godly people in the widely spread out Cathedral parish. He wanted to be a ‘hands-on” Bishop and introduced a “Bishop’s Deacon” system which allowed him to personally encourage and help train individual new Deacons in the Diocese. Many of them have since had significant ministries in the Australian church.
He was concerned to see the diocese grow numerically, but even more so, spiritually. He tried to come to grips with the charismatic renewal that was moving in many Australian dioceses including his own diocese and tried to ensure that those involved did not depart from Biblical truths. He felt a real responsibility for the Diocese to be Bible based in its theology and in its practice. He was also a very experienced administrator throughout his ministry.
The requirements for a Bishop are found in Titus 1:6-9. if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. His wife Betty shared his love for the gospel and together they encouraged their children to walk in the ways of the Lord. As a result they committed their lives to the Lord at an early age and all of them have gone on to serve the Lord in full-time service. He also fulfilled another requirement in that passage in being faithful to the word of God in his own life and in the life of the diocese, verse 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. He was very careful in his preaching and teaching to base what he said on the word of God. He was also vigilant as a Bishop to ensure that all the ministry in the diocese was Bible based.
God has His purpose in raising up individuals to serve Him in His church. Peter was one such individual. He was single-minded in his commitment to serve his Lord with all his being. Many through the decades were blessed through his ministry and later through his oversight as Bishop in the diocese of Armidale.
We join with many others in the Australian church in extending our sympathy to his wife Betty and to their children Graham, Margaret and Rodney and their families in their very sad loss.
Blog No.135. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Tuesday 10th December 2013