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Peter Hicks: 1940-2013

Peter Hicks was a wonderfully warm and unique pastor. Born in the south Gloucestershire, Peter showed early academic promise and graduated from Keble College, Oxford in Literae Humaniores in 1963. But his life was gripped by Christ and he trained at Spurgeon’s College for ministry.

David Coffey, one of his contemporaries, tells how Peter was given two weeks off before his finals to walk in the Welsh Hills, since he had been so hard working and was well prepared. On graduating from Spurgeons he settled as pastor of Newark Baptist Church (66-77).

At Newark he met and married Gwen who was to be his wife for 41 years. Gwen brought her own professional gifts to the relationship and together they formed a considerable pastoral team. Over the years they taught many counselling and marriage preparation courses and often served on the prayer team at Keswick.

Newark was followed by a call to Godstone (77-81) where he succeeded Vic Jacobson. Then he was appointed to teach Philosophy at London Bible College (81-85). But that belies his wide contribution to LBC where he added immensely to its evangelical vitality.

Shortly after taking up this post he gained his PhD from London University on Charles Hodge. But the lure of the pastorate soon led him to become minister of nearby Bushey Baptist Church, a church that saw considerable growth and change under his leadership. He was called back to London Bible College (later to be known as London School of Theology) in 1991 not only to teach philosophy but also to be its Director of Ministry.

During this phase he led the introduction of a joint degree in Theology and Counselling in partnership with CWR. He retired from LST in 1995 and moved to South Wales.

Peter was a fit, energetic man who loved walking and music, and had practical building skills as well! He was a scholar who contributed widely through his writing, supervision and speaking. He once supervised a research student who gained his PhD in his early 90s. He had his own lecturing style that proved hugely engaging to students but sat uneasily with the contemporary tick-box approach to higher education. And he could translate it all for popular audiences as he did in a session at the 2001 EA Assembly in Cardiff, which became one of the talking points of the event.

His tireless energies were invested in a wide-range of writing on such diverse topics as pastoral care, this history of philosophy, the concept of truth, the book of Revelation and the BST on Evil and Suffering. But his principal energies were devoted to church planting and renewal.

While teaching at LBC, he helped found a church at Carpenter’s Park, renewed the church at Harefield, and went on to do the same at Chenies, where he maintained a very active interest when Malcolm Hazel settled as its pastor in 2006. He was a mentor to Malcolm, as he had been to many before.

In retirement he remained passionate about planting a church near where he and Gwen lived.

Peter was always a vibrant, godly, worshipful and joyful person with an optimistic bent. He had a rare gift of bridging the academic and church worlds and never lost sight of the purpose of it all being to glorify Christ.

Derek J. Tidball
 
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