About me

IMG_0398 (2)I am a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I was ordained in 1982 and served as pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Teaneck, New Jersey from then until 1987 when I resigned to pursue a law degree at Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey. Following graduation in 1990, I began practicing law full time at the firm of Francis & Berry in Morristown, New Jersey. In 1994 I accepted a call as assistant to the Pastor at Church of the Savior in Paramus, New Jersey where I served as a part time minister and supply preacher for churches throughout Bergen County. I left the full time practice of law and my pastorate at Church of the Savior in October of 2008 to accept the call to serve as senior pastor of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bogota, New Jersey. I retired from active full time ministry in June of 2018 and now reside in Wellfleet, Massachusetts with my wife. I have three adult children and four grandchildren.

 

46 thoughts on “About me

  1. I just read — then posted to my FB feed — your letter to Franklin Graham. What a wonderful piece of writing! You said everything I’ve wanted to say to “Frank”, but in a much nicer way. I’m not sure he’s able to take in your message, but I hope some of these missives we’ve been seeing of late at least reach a portion of his followers. I’m not sure they understand the damage they’re doing to their own cause, but we can’t not try. Our leaders are faltering, and we all need to step up.

    Thank you!

  2. I certainly agree with what Shannon had to say about your letter. It was spot on about the actions of Franklin Graham and some of his close followers like the Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress. “Like father, like son” is certainly not the case in the Graham family!

  3. I am offended by your disrespectful, mean spirited open letter to Franklin Graham. He and his organization have done more for the poor, neglected, downtrodden people in the world than you and your pitiful efforts. You seem to equate the bakery refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding as heinous as child pornography. What a stupid way to judge Christians. Did you go to the Mexican side of the border to minister with food, water, shelter and clothing for those trying to enter the US? Franklin Graham did,personally. Did you go to African and Latino countries taking Christmas boxes to children who otherwise wouldn’t have anything for Christmas. Franklin Graham did, personally. Have you spoken out against the murders of unborn babies? Franklin Graham did, personally. Your statement to REV. Graham said that he should read the Bible. He has, many times, personally. Probably a hundred times more than you. You imply that you know the Bible better than REV. Graham and that your interpretation is better than his. Did God tell you that? You are doing just what your letter does……..judging others.

    1. Marian Dudash,
      Just because a person performs a few decent “good samaritan” acts doesn’t make him (or her) an all-together good person. There are many who “act” as good Christians in order to profit from your naivety You should do some research on your Franklin Graham, he’s a shyster, a false leader, he’s worth millions….many many millions; in 2014 Franklin was one of the highest paid Samaritan Purse employee, earning more than $880,000 annually. Just because a person goes through the motions doesn’t make them christians, someone who puts money and power over the true teachings of christ is an actor pure and simply. He profits from being a shyster, sort of sad that you defend him when there are some truly good decent Christian leaders out there who are NOT in it for the money or power. The fact he condones and defends Donald Trump’s actions instead of trying to lead him to be a better man is disgraceful. As a Christian leader it is Franklin’s duty to point out the character flaws that Trump exhibits daily that go against Christian beliefs and to guide Trump into being more godly, not defend or ignore the behavior that goes against Christian beliefs. We call those actions “Hypocrisy”. Sad when men choose money and power over faith and belief, even christian leaders are guilty of the sins of greed. Peter has every right to call out a man who chooses money and power (and the abuse of) over his own self proclaimed faith and teachings. Franklin claims to be a Christian, and chooses to be a christian leader no less…..do you know what a christian is?…..truly is? Not the hypocritical nastiness that I see coming from those who put money in the offering plate a few sundays a month then lie, cheat, swear, and say hateful things to others on social media once they’ve done their christian duties of going through the motions. But to truly be a child of christ?? Do you remember what you were taught in Sunday school? The true meaning of Christ’s love? Do you? The fact that you defend Franklin shows you yourself choose to be blinded by gilt (definition: superficial brilliance)….very very sad. Maybe you could benefit from listening to more of Peter’s words, it might help you find your way back to Christ’s teachings, and to love the way Jesus meant for us to love. I see so many adults who claim to be christians yet who walk around with hate in their hearts against anyone who do not parrot their prejudisms…..this is not what Christ believed in. He loved the worst of us, the poorest, the sick, the old, those who despaired, the downtrodden, he loathed those who valued money and idols, remember? “You cannot serve both god and Money”; have you truly forgotten his teachings? I pray for you and others who feel like you do.

      Peter, please don’t let Marian’s comments bother you, she is misguided and hopefully will find peace and love in her life. You words are inspiring! 🙂

      1. Thanks for your comments Marie and no Marian’s comments don’t bother me. Thirty-seven years of parish ministry and eighteen years practicing law have given me a pretty thick skin.

    2. WRONG about Pastor Peter he never claimed that God told him anything. What has always seemed a bit odd to me is that as you who do claim to hear from God why does He tell each of you different things about the same subject which you then go and fight amongst yourselves and worse are always trying to make it into laws for everyone regardless of their beliefs? However this guy you are defending a guy who lives in luxury made off of these piss poor people (I am referring to the poor gullible Americans who’ve made him rich and the “African and Latino” people the wealthy pastor brought Christmas gifts to when he should have given up at least part of his wealth (as Jesus instructed) to help them where they really need it the most not give their kids boxes of teddy bears and candy. Sham that’s the word.

      1. Plus, there was not an iota of mean spiritedness in Pastor Peter’s letter only the truth. By your definition of mean spiritedness then I guess Jesus was mean spirited toward the Pharisees and St. Paul well just mean spirited.

    3. I agree with you Marian. I think all these people here are judging a man, because he supports the president. Maybe he doesn’t use the same language as “Peter” no last name! But he does preach the word of God, and he calls sin, SIN! I think more than anything all these people agreeing with “Peter” never see the other side of anything. Liberals only see what they want to see, and hear what they want to hear. That is a fact! I cannot believe all you people are judging this man of God, that doesn’t sound Christ-like to me. I read my Bible daily, that doesn’t make me a Christian. I believe every word of it, but that doesn’t make me a Christian. It all comes down to money, or the lack of it. People judge others if they are wealthy, and God Forbid should they use a little of it for themselves. You are right, he does do these things personally, he feeds the poor, he clothes the naked, he visits the imprisoned. His organization helps all over the world. So Trump haters please open your eyes and ears. It is just the ways of the world today. Christ did not come to have us judge each other, he came to have us love each other. The two great commandments is our recipe to loving one another. Marie even if you belittle Marian, and suck up to “Peter” that doesn’t sound like what you learned in Sunday School!!

      1. Dear Patricia: You wrote:
        “I think more than anything all these people agreeing with “Peter” never see the other side of anything. Liberals only see what they want to see, and hear what they want to hear. That is a fact!”
        Then you say:
        “I cannot believe all you people are judging this man of God, that doesn’t sound Christ-like to me.”
        And finally you accuse another contributor of flattering me with an obscenity. Sounds to me like you are pretty liberal yourself when it comes to dishing out judgment on other people. I don’t know what Bible you are reading every day, but mine tells me that the one thing that riles Jesus more than anything else is people who dish out judgement on others. While I welcome your comments, I must ask that you treat other contributors with the courtesy and respect you would wish shown to you.

      2. Well of course that’s you would think. Supporting one of the most corrupt and treacherous men who happened (by cheating) to become president. But, even on that point you are totally wrong and totally blinded to what is happening to you.

        Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Matthew7:5 KJV

    4. Marian, you forgot to mention that Franklin is the BIGGEST hypocrite in Christianity! Read what he had to say about Obama’s religion! Read how he compared Clinton’s infidelity to that of Trump!

    5. Marian,

      You are so right to point out that Rev. Franklin Graham continues to help so many poor and downtrodden people throughout the work.Unlike so many ministers who are merely concerned with pushing politically and socially progressive agenda’s, Rev. Graham is genuinely concerned about not only the souls of those he meets but also their material well-being. In fact, as you know, he’s continuing the charitable work of his father by continuing to expand the “Samaritan’s Purse” which helps many people, including children across many nations…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritan%27s_Purse

      It’s sad to see him the target of so many lackluster, unsuccessful liberal ministers whose church communities are increasingly shrinking. Rev. Graham’s good works along with his Pro-life message seems to be just more than they can stand. And to top it off, he’s a great success like his father! That must be his worst “sin” in their eyes!

      These ministers, each time they mention the poor and criticize someone else or the government for not helping them enough, might well take a closer look at their own legacies and ask whom they’ve really helped. Indeed, many of these minister even go as far as to tell their followers that good works are not necessary to enter God’s Kingdom. Helping the poor is the work of government and government taxation.

      But what person, poor or otherwise, was ever helped by having their pastor teach them the morally paralyzing secular values of postmodern society? Who even needs a church to get those vacant lessons?

      Sadly, these pastors often operate only in the realm of ideas and not in the realm of faith expressed in action… actions which speak of the Gospel, of Christ’s love and which actually change lives.

      The Gospel message, for them, is rather academic and always read through the lenses of their postmodern philosophies: relativism, socialism, egoism and, in the case of abortion, materialism and nihilism.

      It is no surprise then, that any minister (or person) who speaks with moral clarity and takes a purposeful moral stand expressed in real-world action, is intolerable to them? Such a man as Rev. Graham is a constant reminder to them and others of what they are not as ministers.

      I am reminded of a certain scriptural passage in which Jesus warns his followers…

      Matthew 7:15-20 says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

      Thanks again for your post,

      Gregory Scott

  4. I love your letter to Franklin Graham! Maybe he is actually just ALL about the money. Perhaps more people should ask themselves WWJD?

  5. I do not know how to thank you Pastor for your “An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor” article. As a person born into the Catholic traditions who suffers from a couple mental diorders (the most crippling for me severe OCD) which of course back in the 60s and 70s and even into the 80s there was no name or diagnosis and a physical one that was incurable when I was 4 to which my mother prayed her heart out to St. Jude who she always credited with my survival (I am 63 now) and then during the worst part of my OCD discovering I was gay and as we use to say “on my way to hell in a hand basket” would cry my eyes at (as soon as I found out God hated me and where I would wind up) every night on my bed for Jesus to change me this as an 11 or 12 year old child well into his early twenties. Then becoming a born again in my late teens with the promise that God was going to change my sexual orientation and becoming quite confused when He did not, left and as they say went down the rabbit hole in a big way, but not before attending two different ex-gay ministries and giving it a couple more tries. I have had just about every gay demon cast out of me plus a few more like the spirit of the 60s (whatever that means). I finally fell into a place where I just thought I had done something, so wrong (a lot due to my OCD thinking another long twisted tale) and God’s Spirit just left me. This is where I am pulling out from now. I started attending a very supportive and socially concious Catholic Church here in NYC (when I can make it of the house) and am trying to feel God’s presense again, but it is very difficult. Anyway, back to your response to Frank I want you to know that it was the first positive reinforcements I have received that actually cut a sliver through me in over thrity plus years from a pastor and a church. Thank you a million and God bless you.

    1. Ricky: Thanks for your powerful testimony and the courage to share your experiences. The suffering you describe at the hands of deranged religion is precisely why I felt compelled to write. We need to let the world know that Franklin Graham and the brand of Christianity he represents is not the only brand and certainly not the voice of Jesus we need so much to hear. God bless you in your new community of faith!

  6. Thank you for your thoughtful and eloquent letter, Rev. Peter. The current national conversation has fairly well turned me away from churches and many who identify as Christian, leaving a hole in my life. Your letter reminds me not all have discarded the most central teachings of Christ. Truly. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for writing this letter. It said so much that needed saying. It is not unexpected that Graham’s followers have among them several who will follow blindly both Graham and this president. I am sure you had hoped to open some eyes but it seems those eyes are blind instead of just closed.

  8. I did some work for Franklin and Jane many years ago. I remember Jane was very nice and Franklin was already insincere by looking over your shoulder while shaking your hand. Must have been hard that his father was a busy man. He could be one life experience away from being a complete human but seems to need a nudge. I hope the pastor’s letter serves as a nudge. So many people are putting portfolio over character. Maybe I would understand why if I had a portfolio.

  9. I’ve never heard of you until a friend posted your letter to “Frank” on my Facebook page. I guess it was to send me a message about how ignorant I am because I support the only person that I know of that doesn’t condone the murder of little babies, born or unborn these days.
    Just curious as to a couple of things without much writing. Yes or no preferably.
    Do you think abortion of a nine month old unborn child is ok? Or is abortion ok at anytime?
    Do you think someone who is trying to kill themselves should be helped or since it’s their body, just let them off themselves?
    Oh, and could you repost your letter to Osama? Im sure it wasn’t sent to me during the eight long years he spoke….kinda of like you do, down to the uneducated, like myself.
    I’m interested to hear your derogatory and condescending remarks you made about him as he “fundamentally changed” America. Surely you called him out for all the hungry and underprivileged children he put in cages and shipped back to wherever it was they came from etc etc. If you didn’t write one, feel free to just say so. I’m not looking for a sermon, just a couple of simple yes or no answers. I don’t have your extensive and impressive credentials so don’t beat me up with your vocabulary judo please.
    Thanks Peter.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Randall. First, I don’t believe it is ever OK to take another life at any point whatever the rationale. Nevertheless, believe there are circumstances when an abortion is the best of many bad options. Which circumstances? That’s where it gets complicated. Someone has to decide in these cases what the best course is. Some people believe that the government knows best and should make these decisions. I happen to think that women and their families can and should be trusted. Since God placed the care of his only begotten Son in the hands of a women, I think I am on pretty sound biblical ground. Second, no, I’m not a fan of assisted suicide. Finally, no, I never wrote a letter to Osama (I assume you mean Osama bin Laden?). Never had an address for him and I’m not sure we have much to talk about anyway. Again, thanks for your comments.

      1. Dear Peter,

        I’m rather dismayed at your capacity for cognitive dissonance. No wonder you appear to lack moral clarity on the serious issues of abortion and euthanasia, if not on other issues as well. Most people have no difficulty stating a clear position on these issues. But you seem to be playing the field to avoid doing just that. Isn’t it uncomfortable to go through life that way?

        You start off rather clearly when you state, “First, I don’t believe it is ever OK to take another life at any point whatever the rationale.” That’s certainly the traditional stance of the Judeo-Christian Tradition, and many others, regarding the taking of innocent human lives.

        But then, most puzzling, you skid right off of the rails by adding, “Nevertheless, [I] believe there are circumstances when an abortion is the best of many bad options.” But then, like any good train wreck, it continues.

        You say, “Some people believe that the government knows best and should make these decisions. I happen to think that women and their families can and should be trusted.” So, I must ask. If decisions about destroying a baby or a person who is ill should be a matter of personal choice, then what should not be a matter of personal choice? In addition to other forms of murder, should rape, robbery, kidnapping, burglary, assault, theft, etc., also be left to personal choice? What a moral mess that appears to be!

        Most confusingly, however, you seem to try to glue the whole moral mess you’ve made back together by claiming that what you’ve stated is biblically supported: “Since God placed the care of his only begotten Son in the hands of a women, I think I am on pretty sound biblical ground.” Are you really? But only if performing theological gymnastics is the way of the Gospel.

        I find it quite sad that we live in times where many, even our pastors, trust governments to make so many decisions for them while relegating decisions about taking another’s life, to mere personal choice.

        Who among us would argue that the government is overreaching by making it a serious and punishable crime to go into an American Eagle’s nest and willfully destroy the eggs? Yet, many of the same people would argue that the government has no right to make it illegal to go into a woman’s womb and kill her baby.

        The truth is that none of us who bear the name “Christian” should need laws telling us not to do what is obviously wrong. No one who bears the tile “Pastor” should likewise have such a struggle stating, without qualification, that murder, (i.e. the destruction of innocent human life), is wrong… period.

        Is it any wonder that more and more people, especially young people, often say, “I’m spiritual but not religious.”? With such moral ambiguity guiding the hearts and minds of even our pastors, who would relish the idea of seeking any moral guidance from organized religion? Indeed, once our pastors reduce our moral and spiritual lives to mere personal choice, who needs a pastor other than the self?

        Sincerely Yours in Christ,

        Gregory

        P.S. Thanks for not trying to silence me 🙂

      2. Once again, thanks for your comments. In the future, I would appreciate it if you would comment on the page of the article to which your comments are directed. That way, people reading it will understand the context of your remarks.

  10. This letter is the most condescending, self-aggrandizing (posing as righteousness indignation), and mean-spirited epistle I’ve ever read. It certainly reveals more about the writer’s spirit than it does anything else. He can exhort Mr. Graham, his congregation, and us readers to adapt our attitudes and behaviors to his beliefs and practices, but where is his brotherly love for a fellow Christian? He exhibits nothing but contempt and self-righteousness with his sarcasm and condescension. My sympathy to his congregation.

  11. Strange letter. For a retired lawyer and preacher in America. The individual rights of a Christian to practice his faith should be respected by both . Rather than throwing stones at Rev. Franklin for defending his fellow Christian . Maybe you can bake a cake for the people responsible for the kerfuffle.

  12. While I don’t ‘side’ with all you said, I appreciate your comments. When people at church talk about the persecuted Christians here, I remember a conversation a group I was with had with young people who converted to Christianity in a country where it was illegal. They told of beatings, being disowned, kicked (literally) out of their homes. What about the beheadings of Christians filmed for all to see. We’ve traveled a lot, not to resorts, seen and/or heard of real persecution. So, I thank you for your comments on that. I live in a land of freedom with laws that protect my freedom. I serve God and follow Jesus easily and freely because I live here. Others live where the laws are not by or for the people and are jailed or killed. If a baker refused to bake a cake for me, I’m free to choose another rather than ruin their life to fit my freely chosen beliefs and actions. Not baking a cake is not discrimination, it’s freedom. Discrimination is tearing someone apart, destroying them or their life because they are different than you. Jesus changed lives through love, truth, Grace, mercy, signs and wonders. One question I have to ask myself: will my words/actions draw someone even a step closer to knowing Him? I can’t speak for Frank, Trump or anyone else. But I want to be like Jesus and only say and do what the Father says and does. I need to talk to Him more than anyone else. And definitely listen. I think I’ll go do that now.

  13. Dear Peter,

    Can I call you Peter? This is just Christian to Christian. You may call be Gregory.

    Peter, let’s try some honesty here. Surely you do not believe that by simply writing an anger-laden open letter to Rev. Frank Graham you succeed in detracting from the truth of what he has to say. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that your truths may be no better than his. So, at least grant him some respect in speaking his mind since you also take such great liberty in speaking yours.

    Do not forget. His experience is his experience. Your words can’t take that from him. His faith is his faith. His faith is his alone. Neither does he have to justify it to you or me or anyone but God. But surely you already know this.

    I suspect that your real aim in writing was not to try to reach Rev. Frank but to shame into silence anyone who thinks like him. You know who I talking about, those millions upon millions of Christians who are willing to speak to the truths of their experiences, faith and religious convictions and act accordingly… those millions upon millions who believe in traditional sexual morality, the sanctity of human life, born and unborn, and the freedom to follow one’s conscience in matters of faith. But if this is the group you are trying to shame and dissuade, then you should not get your hopes up.

    You speak of the Apostles and the persecution of the early Church in your letter. So then, surely you know that silencing those who have experienced the Risen Christ is quite a hard, hard thing to do. The Romans weren’t successful. Countless leaders and peoples throughout the centuries weren’t successful. So why should you be? Yet, only you and God know your true motives in the words you have chosen for Rev. Frank.

    But I must make this observation about those words my observation are mine to make.You clearly seem to be questioning Rev. Frank’s faith and status as a Christian. But upon what grounds do you judge him? I must ask you this since you leave the reader confused. You indicate in a number of places in your open letter that judging others is wrong and that only God is the judge. Yet, you clearly are harshly judging Rev. Frank.

    Frankly, Peter, I must say I’m rather embarrassed for you over three matters. First, the vitriolic tone of what you write is simply beneath your role as a pastor, retired or otherwise. Second, you come across as elitist in your convictions that you are absolutely right because you have read the Bible. Third, and sadly, you feign a spiritual humility you clearly do not possess. These things made you letter quite a sad sight to behold.

    I suggest you take a second look at what you’ve written and examine your conscience on the matter, Peter. After all, it’s Ash Wednesday and quite a good day for introspection. Are you being truly honest with yourself? Where has your Christian charity gone? It’s certainly not in that letter.
    Please remember. No one is perfect, not even a retired pastor from a tiny, country church. Neither is anyone, regardless of clerical status, above reproach in matters of moral accountability to God.

    Rarely have I seen a pastor whose words are so utterly accusatory, disrespectful and uncharitable, especially towards another pastor. But since you have made them, let me challenge you, Peter.

    You might consider taking the Lord seriously when he says two things: “Love one another” and “Stop judging.” Peter, I want to tell you some good news you might have missed while reading the Bible. Human beings are not meant for a life of bitterness, quarreling, name-calling, debating, and quibbling over politics. No. Human beings were made for God’s glory and for one another. They were made for love, unity and oneness while still enjoying the gifts of diversity and uniqueness. And most amazingly, these gifts are expressed through the dignity and goodness of individual personhood and freedom.

    That’s why our words and actions towards one another matter. You might ask yourself why you’ve decided to use your freedom to so disrespect and belittle the personal dignity of Rev. Frank Graham. After some reflection, you might find you benefit more spiritually from reading your own letter than anyone else ever will. At least this is my prayer for you, dear brother in Christ.

    Sincerely,

    Gregory Scott

    1. Thanks for your comments, Gregory. And by the way, I am not out to “silence” anyone. If I were, would I have approved your comment for publication on this page?

  14. I hope Peter, you first followed the scripture which exhorts us to first go to a brother to discuss the wrong/sin you believe you witnessed. If not heard then you take along another to witness. If that fails then you bring it before the church. If you did not follow the biblical principles how different are you?

    1. Thank you for your comments, Aileen. You might want to go back and read Matthew 18:15-20 with greater care. Verse 15 reads: “If your brother sins against you…” If in fact Rev. Graham had sinned against me, you might have a point. He didn’t. He made some public statements to which I publicly expressed my disagreement by way of an open letter. I find no biblical support for the assertion many have expressed on this thread to the effect that Christians who express themselves publicly on matters of public concern can shield themselves from public criticism by insisting that their public comments cannot be challenged unless they are first discussed privately. Rev. Graham did not consult with me over his message before embarking on his Discision America Tour-nor would I have expected that from him. But I am sure he realized that his public comments would get a public response. That’s what happens when you are a public figure.

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