A 41-year legacy of student ministry was celebrated as InterVarsity staff and friends marked the official last day of employment for Pete Hammond on August 31, 2007. Normally this kind of event would be called a retirement party, but anyone who knows Pete Hammond knows that he is not retiring. He is just being released for further ministry.
Pete Hammond joined InterVarsity staff as an Area Director in 1966, working in the southeastern U.S., and was one of InterVarsity’s early advocates for multiethnic ministry. He went on to become director of Evangelism. Most of the last two-and-a-half decades of his career was dedicated to helping men and women discover their ministry roles through InterVarsity’s Ministry in Daily Life.
InterVarsity president Alec Hill recalled a meeting in 2006 that was arranged for InterVarsity’s regional directors to say good bye to Pete Hammond. The meeting lasted long beyond the time set aside. “What I did not anticipate was how many people stood up and said ‘Pete did this for me at a crucial time in my life, and it’s part of the reason why I’m still at InterVarsity.’”
“I have a vivid memory of first meeting Pete Hammond in the fall of 1977 at InterVarsity’s camp at Bear Trap Ranch,” said Tom Boyle, director of Staff Development and Training. “He made a comment that raising kids was easy; all you have to do is the right thing, day after day. That was the best advice we ever got for raising kids. And Pete has modeled that. If you want to finish well in ministry, all you have to do is the right thing, day after day.”
Paula Fuller, InterVarsity’s vice president and director of multiethnic ministry thanked Pete for his enthusiastic support for minority students. “If it weren’t for you, many of us wouldn’t even be in the room,” she said. “Bringing black and white students together in Mississippi in the sixties was courageous, bold and visionary.”
“Thank you for teaching us to be appropriately reckless for the kingdom,” added John Terrill, director of InterVarsity’s Professional Schools Ministry. “You inspire us to take good risks.”
“You’ve probably done more than any other person in the last 30-40 years to represent InterVarsity publicly,” summed up vice president Barney Ford, InterVarsity’s director of Advancement. “You’ve done it well, with great diplomacy.”
In response Pete said, “Whatever is true that has been said today, about me, is about people in my life.” He credited a number of former and present InterVarsity colleagues for their influence. But his most important influence has been his wife Shirley. “We’ve been together a lot longer than 49 years of official marriage,” he said. “And I’m hoping for a lot more.”
Pete has dedicated the month of September to remodeling his carpentry shop. But he also has plenty of ministry plans for the next phase of his life, as well as several manuscripts to work on. His plans also include more time with members of his extended family. His friends and colleagues at InterVarsity will miss his regular presence but know that he will continue to stay connected to InterVarsity.