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Meet the Reverant Peter Stephenson

 

Leading a diverse congregation and an even more diverse community in a time when people are becoming increasingly less engaged with religion and indeed each other, Reverent Peter Stephenson, minister of Crossway united reform church (URC) is clearly doing something right.

 

Despite now preaching to a multinational congregation of around thirty, every Sunday, Peter hasn’t always been a religious man, although he has always been connected to the church in some way recalling being baptised as a young child “I was baptised, so I remember being taken there I reckon I must have been closer to five than a baby”

 

However, his intentions when attending church may have not always been the best, in one case working out he could steal from the collection pot although it was short lived “I got caught but rather than being ostracised or anything like that I was asked if I would pump the organ which a required a hand pump”

 

Leaving school with poor qualifications and being labelled a “no hoper” He had a whole host jobs from here “I’ve been a milkman a postman a toupee company representative a salesman an insurance seller finical adviser a cleaner an aircraft cleaner the lot” looking back at one particular low point after his first wife left him to in his words “peruse other interests” he described how he had lost direction saying “no education, no prospects and id become abit of a drinker as well and all of that together was a pretty poor and low time in my life”

 

This however changed when his second wife gave birth to his son Adam 9 weeks early, saying how he turned to god on a tearful journey home “I was driving home I had a cassette on and Gladys knight and the pips began singing help me make it through the night and the tears flowed as I sat there I said well god if your there this is your chance and if he survives I’m yours”

 

Going on to become more involved in the church and eventually receiving two theological

Doctorates he became the minister of a church in Coventry “for somebody who couldn’t deal with the academic rigor a Cambridge first and Princeton doctorate isn’t bad, and it does make me smile and makes me realise just how good god is”

 

Recently deciding to allow same sex marriages to take place in their churches URC Church b can decide for themselves to allow them or not, like many others Crossway decided not to. however, they are not against the LGBT community having a transgender elder they are moving forward where other churches aren’t  “I reflected on this in my doctorate, we are made in the image of god and maybe that means that some people are different and I started to look at normal people and then realised we are all different” one of his congregation Eileen described him as “an open man who always finds a way to do what’s best”

 

Peter is a people person this was made clear when I asked about the most interesting place faith had taken him and he described a building site he was a Chaplin on over walking through tombs in Jerusalem “your just talking to people church doesn’t mean much to me people mean a lot to me and the church is the people”