The Right Reverend Peter Hess Beckwith
Tenth Bishop of Springfield
On February 29, 1992, Peter Beckwith was consecrated the tenth Bishop of Springfield. Born September 8, 1939, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Bishop Beckwith is the son of Florence Catheryn Hess (deceased) and Robert E. Beckwith, Sr. (deceased). In 1961, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan, from which he also received an Alumni Achievement Award in 1982 and a Doctor of Theology degree (honoris causa) in 1989. While an undergraduate at Hillsdale, Bishop Beckwith participated in varsity football and wrestling, and was a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. He attended the School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, graduating in 1964 with a Master of Divinity degree. In 1999, he also received a Doctor of Divinity degree (honoris causa) . In 1974, Bishop Beckwith received a S.T.M. degree and in 1992 the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) from Nashotah House Seminary, Nashotah, Wisconsin.
Bishop Beckwith was ordained to the diaconate on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in 1964 at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Detroit, Michigan, by the Rt. Rev. Richard S.M. Emrich. The Rt. Rev. Archie H. Crowley ordained him priest on the Feast of the Epiphany, 1965, at St. John's Church, Plymouth, Michigan. Having served assistantships at St. John's Church, Plymouth, Michigan, from 1964 to 1966, and St. Paul's Church, Jackson, Michigan, from 1966 to 1970, he was called to be Rector of St. Matthew's Church, Saginaw, Michigan, where he served from 1970 to 1978. In 1978, he was called as Rector of St. John's Church, Worthington Ohio, where he served until relocating to the See City of Springfield, Illinois, in February of 1992.
During his parish ministries, Bishop Beckwith was involved in community, youth, and prison work, and served on numerous diocesan councils, commissions and committees including the Commission on Ministry. Having had an active ministry as a United States Naval Reserve Chaplain beginning in September of 1972, he retired in September 1999 as the Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Total Force holding the rank of Rear Admiral (Lower Half).
Under Bishop Beckwith's leadership, the Diocese of Springfield has pursued a renewal in mission and ministry. "Vision 2000" was developed, adopted and is continuing to be updated and implemented through ACTS 29 "Yes, These Bones Can Live" program.
Bishop Beckwith married the former Melinda Jo Foulke of Hillsdale, Michigan, in 1965. They have two sons: Peter, II, of Columbus, Ohio, and Michael of Edwards, Colorado and three granddaughters.