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Obituary: The Revd Peter Jackson

23 December 2022

The Revd Paul Hunt writes:

THE Revd Peter Jackson died un­­expectedly in August, while serving as the Anglican Chaplain in Nice. Probably best-known within the wider Church for his confirmation textbook, Faith Confirmed (co-­written with Chris Wright), of which more than 80,000 copies have been sold, Peter excelled as a school chap­­lain and as a parish priest.

Born in Wales in 1953, Peter was educated at Wycliffe College, where the school chaplain played an im­­port­ant part in his spiritual forma­­tion. He read theology at St Peter’s College, Oxford, before starting a law-conver­­sion course. His priestly voca­tion came to the fore, however, and Peter was ordained deacon in Advent 1979, to serve as an hon­orary curate at St Michael at the Northgate, while still a student at St Stephen’s House, Oxford.

After a second curacy at Malvern Link, where he learned to minister to both the well-heeled and those suf­­fering from social deprivation, Peter went, in 1982, to Aldenham School, Hertfordshire, where he flour­­ished as a school chaplain. It was here that Peter honed his teach­­ing skills and became the master of an incisive and never bland “thought for the day” during the daily chapel services. School chaplaincy is not an easy ministry, but Peter inspired col­­leagues and pupils to take Christian faith seriously as both an intellectually rational proposition and as some­­­­thing that moved the spirit.

It was no surprise that Peter was appointed Chaplain and Head of Religious Studies at Harrow School in January 1990. Here, he pre­­pared up to 80 boys for con­­firma­­tion each year. During this time, he co-founded an RE-cur­­riculum asso­­ciation for independent schools and served on a government curriculum review. His many textbooks for prep­­aratory and senior schools, as well as Faith Confirmed, were the practical app­­li­­cations of Peter’s in­­­volvement. Peter was anxious not to be regarded as an “aca­­demic” priest; his pastoral con­­cerns found ex­­pression as the found­­ing chair of the charity REACT, which helps children living with life-limiting ill­­nesses.
Educational and pastoral work were brought together in Peter’s next post as Associate Rector and Di­­r­ector of Christian Education of St Patrick’s Episcopal Church, in Washington, DC. By this time, Peter had met his partner, Joe, a lawyer and an active Episcopalian, who shared many of Peter’s interests, not least in music. Their homes in Arlington, Aldeburgh, South­­gate, and Nice became places of warm hos­­pitality, with good food, fine wine, thoughtful conversation, and, given Peter’s mischievous sense of humour, much laughter.

In 2003, Peter and Joe moved to north London, where Peter became Vicar of Christ Church, Southgate. It was here that Peter’s no-nonsense approach was applied, balancing the parish budget and restoring the Grade II* listed building. His teaching skills were evident in his preach­­ing, and his pastoral skills were much ap­­­preciated. “We should always be kind but never senti­­mental,” he once told me.

Peter was a Franco­­phile, and his move to Nice, where he became Chaplain of Holy Trinity with St Hugh’s, Vence, in 2014, proved to be in­­spired. Having been in Washington, DC, on the day of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, Peter had experienced its mental effect on people, and this experience proved essential during the Nice terrorist attacks of 2016 and 2020, which were both close to Holy Trinity. Parishioners came to ap­­preciate Peter’s ministry, with its seamless pattern of the spiritual, educational, pastoral, social, and practical. Active in the diocese, Peter served on the finance com­­mittee and was the Bishop’s ap­­­pointee on the diocesan synod and LGBT adviser.

The recitation of someone’s life will always fail to do justice to the many ways in which that life touched the lives of others for the better. This is especially true for a priest such as Peter, whose ministry en­­hanced the well-being of so many pupils and parishioners — a fact to which the large attendances at the memorial services in Nice and Southgate bore witness. We can no longer thank Peter, but we thank God for him. Peter is survived by Joe and their children, Eliot and Anneli.

The Revd Peter Jackson died on 30 August, aged 69.

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