United Theological College proudly recognised the contribution of founding member of the UTC Faculty, Reverend Dr Robert Geoffrey (Geoff) Peterson on Friday 13 October with his inclusion on the UTC Honour Board which recognises “The Significant Leadership in the life of the Centre For Ministry and Constituent Schools”.
With family, students and friends in attendance, Reverend Peterson’s wife Barbara (pictured below) along with Academic Dean of UTC Gerard Moore unveiled the plaque in his honour.
Reverend Dr R Geoffrey Peterson, BSc Dip Ed MA MTh DTH (1925 – 2016)
Lecturer at Leigh College
Founding Member of united Theological College Faculty
Inaugural lecturer in Pastoral Theology, 1974 – 1986
Robert Geoffrey (Geoff) Peterson, a founding member of faculty in United Theological College, had previously taught at Leigh College and in the United Faculty of Theology at Sydney University.
He was counted as a pioneer in Australia of the discipline of pastoral theology, exemplified in his contribution to the inauguration of systematic clinical training in hospitals and the formation of the NSW Council for Clinical Pastoral Education in 1963. In time this body has developed into the New South Wales College of Clinical Pastoral Education, a Member Institute of Sydney College of Divinity.
For his services, Geoff was awarded life membership of the NSW Council for CPE.
A major interest of Geoff’s was the relationship between psychology and theology and its relevance in counselling. This is reflected in his books and in his choice of study leave. During the 1970s to enable students of Leigh College to have practical experience in counselling in a parish setting, Geoff himself became part time minister of Homebush Methodist Church, establishing the Unicare Counselling Service, available to the public and providing learning experience for selected students. This innovation was a forerunner to the practice of regular field placements.
Across the scope of his career, Geoff combined theological ability and well-honed counselling skills into a creative and innovative practice of ministry.
In addition to this, he also enjoyed broader interests such as Amnesty International and ecumenism, including part time teaching across 1986 to 1989 at St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox College Redfern.
He authored a number of books, amongst which are Conscience and Caring, Maturity and Childlikeness in Faith: Therapeutic Regression and Christian Salvation, Tormenting yet Transforming Shame: Biblical, Psychological and Sociological Dimensions of Shame (Korean translation 2013), Anger! Basic Questions from the Bible and Daily Living, and was a co-author of the Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand, Human Sexuality: a Christian Perspective.
Alongside his writing, teaching and contribution to the community life of Leigh College, Geoff’s foundational role in establishing the programs in Clinical Pastoral Education and solidifying the place of psychology and pastoral theology in the candidate formation process are enduring legacies still honoured at the United Theological College.
Gerard Moore, Academic Dean | 13 October 2017
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