by Chris Banescu –
Fr. Peter Gillquist was a loving and faithful shepherd of our Lord. Not only did he bring many in America into the Orthodox Church, but his powerful and public witness to the truth served as a guide and inspiration to many Orthodox. His work helped re-kindle the faith and inspire many cradle Orthodox Christians, like myself and others, to better understand the depth and richness of our Christian Tradition and embrace our heritage with renewed fervor and commitment.
Having been born and raised in the Orthodox Church, I have always believed that that the Orthodox Faith embodied the fullness of the Christian life and faith, Scriptural teachings, and liturgical worship as established by Christ and His Apostles. However, it was not until I read about Father Peter and his flock’s journey of discovery that I truly recognized how much of a priceless treasure it really is. The spark that triggered that awareness and forever changed the priorities of my life sprung from the pages of his book “Becoming Orthodox.”
Fr. Peter’s account of the incredible journey undertaken by the group of American Protestant ministers in search for the New Testament Church shook me to the very foundations of my soul. Here was a group of devout Christians who loved Jesus Christ so much that they dedicated their entire lives in searching for His True Church and in finding a deeper and closer communion with Christ. They did not have the privilege to grow up in the Orthodox Church and partake of its vast spiritual and religious wealth, yet they worked hard, searched steadfastly, and struggled for many years trying to find what was given to me freely. In reading their story I realized just how blessed and fortunate I was to have been entrusted with such a Pearl of Great Price and ashamed of how little I had done with it.
Father Peter’s example and passion for Christ and the Truth inspired me to re-discover my Orthodox Faith and begin preaching and teaching it to others, especially other family members and friends. That path eventually lead to helping my wife convert from Mormonism to the Orthodox Christian faith and allowed us to start a family built on Christ and strongly anchored in the Traditions of Orthodoxy. The journey has continued since then and many of the apologetic articles and editorials I have written over the years, including the work done on OrthodoxNet.com and The Voice Blog, followed the change of heart and mind the book “Becoming Orthodox” prompted.
While I had the opportunity to meet Father Peter only once (through my friendship with Fr. Hans Jacobse), I am grateful that I was able to thank him in person for the special role he has played in our lives. While my overzealous greeting may have startled him, he graciously and humbly endured my praise and thanks. I will forever remember that day and the blessing I received from him before leaving.
Memory eternal to a faithful and loving servant of the Lord. Father Peter will be missed by many whose lives he touched and were transformed by his words and example. We all owe him a debt of gratitude. He will forever be in our prayers and thoughts!
‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ (Matthew 23:25)
With the saints give rest, O Lord, to the Soul of your departed servant, the Archpriest Peter, where there is no pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering, but life everlasting!
Christ is Risen!
For more information go to All Saints Orthodox Church.
Archpriest Peter Gillquist, longtime pastor of All Saints Orthodox Church in Bloomington, Indiana and prominent American convert to Orthodox Christianity, died on Sunday, July 1, 2012 after a long battle with metastatic melanoma cancer.
In the 1960s, when Fr. Peter was on staff with the Evangelical parachurch organization Campus Crusade for Christ, he and some friends began to search for the apostolic, historic Christian Church. Under their leadership, a large number of evangelical congregations united as the Evangelical Orthodox Church. Almost twenty years later, in 1987, the EOC was received into the Orthodox Church by the Antiochian Orthodox Church of North America. Fr. Peter recorded this story in his book, “Becoming Orthodox”.
In the 1960s Fr. Peter was a senior editor with Thomas Nelson Publishing. He later helped found Conciliar press, and was its chairman for many years. He served as project director for the Orthodox Study Bible project. Conciliar press published a number of his books, which in addition to “Becoming Orthodox” included “Let’s Quit Fighting over the Holy Spirit”, “The Physical Side of Being Spiritual”, “Love is Now”, and “Why We Haven’t Changed the World”.