19 April 2011

David Blood and others write:

THE Revd John Michael Peet, who died on 9 April, aged 66, was for 22 years the incumbent of linked churches in the Bow area of London, ending as Rector of Bow.

In the early years of his ministry, feeling that there was a conflict between his sexuality and the Church’s expectations, he left briefly to become a teacher, but he soon reverted to his true calling.

After curacies in Stepney, Peck­ham, and Stamford Hill, his obvious organisational skills and disarmingly warm personality led to his being offered livings that posed a chal­lenge; he completely revitalised a dying church, and later redesigned the interior of an old church to accommodate a variety of activities. Eventually, he oversaw the amal­gama­tion of two congregations, which, in other hands, could have led to problems.

The 700th anniversary of the institution of Bow Church falls this year. Although Michael took pride in organising the celebrations, it is sad that he will not be part of them.

Michael’s profound belief in the inclusive character of Christianity led to his being a founder member of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Move­ment, and he was an early supporter of the Movement for the Ordination of Women. These were issues about which he felt passionate, and he spent a great deal of energy in campaigning.

His 36-year partnership with Raymond, legalised in 2007 amid great celebrations in the parish, was a perfect example of the mess that the Church has got into over sexuality. Everyone in the hierarchy, from bishops downwards, knew of it, but nothing was ever done. If it had been, there would have been a mini-revolution in Mile End.

Two years ago, he organised a weekend celebration of the life of George Lansbury, who had been a member of the congregation of St Mary’s for 40 years. The unveiling of a memorial plaque to Lansbury, on 7 May, will coincide with the publica­tion of Michael’s book Seven Par­ishioners of Bow. His funeral will be on 5 May at 11 a.m. in Bow Church.

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read five articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)