The Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter Beckwith died on Friday, October 4, 2019 at the age of 80.
As the third longest serving Bishop of the Diocese, he shepherded our communities through challenges both large and small. He believed in the value of full-time resident priests, and initiated The Springfield School of Ministry to address the rural and small town needs within the diocese. Bishop Beckwith emphasized faithful corporate worship and sought to maintain connection to the larger church. On the ecumenical level, this included nurturing an ecumenical connection with the ELCA.
Born in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1939, he attended Hillsdale College where he received a BA in 1961, having majored in Philosophy and Religion. Bishop Beckwith attended seminary at University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, earning his Master of Divinity in 1964. He also earned a Master of Sacred Theology from Nashotah House in 1974. In addition, he held several honorary degrees including a Doctor of Theology from Hillsdale College and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Nashotah House.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Beckwith served as a Chaplain in the United States Naval Reserve from 1972-1999, and from 1996-1999 was the Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Total Force as Rear Admiral. He also served as Chaplain to Episcopal inmates at Southern Michigan State Prison, Jackson, the Marine Corps Reserve Association, The Illinois State Police, Hillsdale College, and was the National Chaplain for the Navy League of the United States.
To learn about his life in Bishop Beckwith’s own words, it is possible to read an oral history interview he granted to The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in 2009.
He had two children, Michael and Peter, with his wife, Melinda.
The funeral will take place on Friday, October 18 at Christ Chapel at Hillsdale College in Michigan, with a visitation on October 17 at VanHorn-Eagle Funeral Home in Hillsdale. Details for both can be found here.
Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Peter was a great friend to my husband Nick Basso helping us through two of Nicks sons that committed suicide. He was always there when we needed him. May he Rest In Peace
Peter encouraged me in my priestly vocation when he was curate at St. Paul’s, Jackson, in the late sixties. I was pleased that we were able to meet and talk at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. My condolences and prayers for all his family.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory. He was a favorite of my parents, Ed and Betty Lane who died in 2010 and 2008 respectively. My prayer are with Melinda and the family.
Pete and Melinda are wonderful friends.
Pete was a terrific spiritual leader for Episcopalians in central Illinois. We will miss his smile, his wit, and mostly his friendship.
With Sincere Sympathy. I served under Chaplain Beckwith when I was Chaplain of RNMCB 27. I held him in the highest regard. He was a fine Officer as well as a true man of God. He has heard now the greatest of commendations; “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into the rest of your Lord”.
Peter was the most dedicated Naval Reserve Chaplain I ever supervised as the Commander Naval Reserve Chaplain. In addition, he remained a dear friend right to the end. We often communicated via email and when he came to NC. May God Bless is wife and family. He was a true servant of Christ!
Just heard about Pete. Fair winds and following seas, shipmate!!
Sadly I am just now learning of Bishop Beckwith’s death. He was truly an inspiration and a friend to me. I once sent him a bottle of rare Armagnac and he called me and explained how delicious it was and why. Nobody was a nobody and everyone counted in this man’s life. He was faithful always to God and his friends, and I will forever be grateful for having known him. Truly he was “ one of the few”. Rest In Peace Sir, and May God continue to bless your loved ones, who I hope will see this and know how much he was loved.