ST Winifreds Methodist Church minister, Peter Butterworth is looking forward to his transfer to Hillcrest, where he will continue to do good and impact the lives of many.
The prominent community figure has been the minister of the local church for some 11 years and over this time, has formed strong bonds with the Warner Beach community.
Peter grew up in Durban North and spent some four years during the 1990s in Warner Beach. He was transferred elsewhere but returned to Warners in 2007, where he has been since. Admitting that he’ll miss the warm, tightly knit community and the breathtaking beauty of the area most, Peter must again move on to continue his good work in another community.
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“Of all the places I’ve been, it’s this community that really pulls together when the time comes for them to do so,” he said. “There are many churches in any town but I feel this one truly serves those who live within it. I always put my efforts into a place where people are loved for who God created them to be.”
Peter does an average of 40 funerals a year, when most churches generally do many less. He’s proud to know the community trusts in both him and the church, even in their darkest and saddest days.
“I always strive to show the community an example of God who doesn’t judge,” he said. “My strongest beliefs lie in grace, dignity and the power to forgive.”
Peter will do his last service on Sunday, 16 September. The next day he will make his way to the UK to visit his daughter Teagan. After six weeks of visiting her, he will take much-needed time off for recuperation, his sabbatical. Peter also has a son, Luke.
Peter was just 21-years-old when he found himself speaking in a church in Newlands East.
“This was during the time when the Group Areas Act was enforced. I was really singled out and at times threatened because I travelled into an area that wasn’t ‘my own’,” he admitted. Peter has also served at churches in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Athlone Park.
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“One of the most memorable churches was Tweespruit in the Free State. There I learned most about grace and kindness. I was this Durban boy in the Afrikaner lands, and it was incredibly humbling,” he recalled.
The minister has also been heavily involved in KwaMakhutha and Orient Hills during his time at the Methodist Church.
Peter was seen off by the church with a beautiful creation of bunting flags, on which messages from his congregation were written and the flags hung within the church.
Peter remarked that he’s gifted with the ability to be humorous but moreso, to be able to laugh at himself, which many know is an admirable ability indeed.
“Being humorous as well as creative, I think I keep people wondering what I’m going to do or what’s going to come from my mouth next,” he admitted.
“Many take life too seriously – have a laugh where you can, enjoy it and be grateful.”
The minister’s creativity and passion for life shines through in all he does. At Christmas time, Peter is renown for recreating localised Christmas carols in an effort to bring even more ‘light and love’ to the festive season.
“I always aim to interpret things differently, with love and from a local angle,” he said.
The minister deals with death a lot and explained what a lonely time it can be for those left behind. “I never tell those who are hurting how to feel, I try to rather offer them a place to deal with their grief,” he said. Peter also deals with many weddings, and still feels so much excitement and love for the precious celebrations.
Back in the day, Peter trained in Scotland for Hospice work, in 1991 trained on AIDS awareness and care, and now looks forward to using these skills in Hillcrest. While in Musgrave, he was heavily involved in a primary healthcare clinic which cared for those on the street.
“A friend of mine has opened an AIDS centre in Hillcrest and I look forward to getting involved with this when living there,” he said. “I remain firm in my belief that beggars deserve the best.” Peter’s love for Toti SPCA is well known, and he holds the shelter close to his heart.
“When I moved to Warners I started my garden from scratch. I aimed to bring as many creatures back to the garden and now the patch boasts birds, bees, butterflies and lizards. I even spotted a hammerkop, which was a treat.” At every church he has worked at, Peter plants an indigenous tree and to ensure it is never cut down after he leaves, he buries ashes beneath it and ensures everyone is aware.
The salt-of-the-earth man will be sorely missed but his legacy of kindness, forgiveness, grace and humility will live on in the town through all the lives he has touched over these 11 years of service.
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