John Maddex, CEO of Conciliar Media Ministries, recently visited the home of Fr. Peter and Kh. Marilyn Gillquist to talk about the announcement by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of Fr. Peter's retirement as Chairman of the Department of Missions and Evangelism for the Antiochian Archdiocese. In a roundtable discussion, John Maddex reminisced with Fr. Peter, Kh. Marilyn, and their son and Antiochian priest, Fr. Peter Jon Gillquist, about past years of ministry. Fr. Peter also shared his vision and hopes for the next generation of evangelists.
Fr. Peter (read his VITA here ) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Minnesota.
He studied at Dallas Theological Seminary and at Wheaton College Graduate School, and went on to serve as: regional director for Campus Crusade for Christ, the Director of Development for the University of Memphis, as a founding member of the Evangelical Orthodox Church, and as a board member for several foundations and institutions. In the publishing field, he worked as a senior editor for Thomas Nelson Publishing and steered Conciliar Press for many years, while authoring books such as: Love is Now; The Physical Side of Being Spiritual; Becoming Orthodox; Coming Home; and Metropolitan Philip: His Life and Dreams. As the Project Director for the Orthodox Study Bible, he oversaw twenty years of labor by top Orthodox Christian theologians, which in turn produced the first full-length Orthodox study Bible in English.
In 1987, he was ordained to the priesthood of the Orthodox Church and elevated to the rank of archpriest. In this capacity, he served as chairman of the Department of Missions and Evangelism of the Antiochian Archdiocese, traveling extensively across the country and around the world. Fr. Peter and Kh. Marilyn have six children and 19 grandchildren.
Quotes from the AFR interview, which can be read here in a complete transcript .
On the Great Commission:
You cannot do missions and evangelism sitting at a big oak desk. You’ve got to be out there, which involves extensive travel. It also involves being a quick first responder, that when I get a call, for example, from a pastor who says, “I believe I and my wife want to be Orthodox. We’ve got a number of the people in our current church that are very interested. Would you come see us?” It’s the old story: you strike while the iron is hot. To put these guys on a six-month waiting list just doesn’t work.
About frequent travel while raising six children:
...as often as possible, I would take one of the kids with me, so each of the kids has memories of one-on-one time with dad on the road....The kids will say now, “Dad, those were the great times of my life, just being out there, seeing new cities, new places, meeting new people, and being with you, basically 24 hours a day for the length of the trip.”
Serving at the fledgling parish of Fr. Gregory Mathewes-Green:
...the first visit I had there, they were renting a schoolroom, an old schoolroom in an old Roman Catholic school, and that was their little sanctuary. I remember walking in, and there was this cracked linoleum floor and a very humble altar, but nicely appointed, with candlesticks and Gospel book, but it was spartan. I believe I served with him that day, though; he was the lead celebrant. Of course, he had all his new vestments, and he served as though he was in a cathedral.
On looking back, and looking forward:
At the end of the 25 years, I look back; I see churches that have really come alive, pastors that have come alive, laypeople that have taken ownership in the work of the Church and the work of the Great Commission, and it’s satisfying. For the future, I’d just look to the day when Sayidna Philip appoints someone that is able to move in and take this job over. He won’t be like me, because there’s only one of any of us, but it’ll be somebody that loves God and loves the Church and is willing to stand up on his hind legs and make some noise out there in the world to call people to Christ.
Fr. Peter Bookshelf