Peter Hulland was preacher and pastor at Stanton Lees Chapel in the Derbyshire Dales for about 40 years. His church, greatly blessed by the Lord over these years, has long been a centre of good preaching, with special preaching services several times a year, attended by many people.
From his RAF days, Peter worked at Rolls Royce and then as a technical clerk. In 1953, he was a student at Cliff College, Calver, where he valued the ministry of such Methodists as Edward Eagles, Baines Atkinson, Dr Farndale and Tom Butler.
Peter wrote of that time: ‘Through Cliff I got something from God that has never left me, and I pray it never will. Cliff has sent men out on fire for God to all parts of the world.
One of the highlights at Cliff was the Whitsuntide anniversary when 10,000-15,000 people came to hear preaching at its best.
‘I was a student in 1954 when Dr Billy Graham was the guest preacher. The crowds were unbelievable! Cars were queuing from Bamford in the north and from Matlock in the south. It was one big, massive open air meeting in the field north of the college building.
‘Very few people knew that right in the middle of this vast crowd was a skylark, which sat on her nest right throughout the day. We students found the nest and erected a fence around it to protect her’.
In 1956, Peter was married to Vivien, who became his godly, much loved and deeply supportive wife. It was also at this time that he read The sovereignty of God, by Arthur Pink, which greatly influenced his thinking.
Peter and Vivien moved to the tiny village of Stanton Lees in 1962 and Peter became a sales representative for Tarmac in the Midlands, selling lime to farmers. This led to many friendships and occasions of Christian witness. In 1993, he became full-time pastor at Stanton Lees.
Geoff Thomas pays this tribute to Peter: ‘England will be a colder place without him. He had a real magnetic gift of drawing people to the gospel of his Saviour. How we all loved coming to Stanton Lees. The meetings spoke of better days for the kingdom of God.
‘Through Peter’s example you believed it was important to worship God with reverence and godly fear, to pray for God’s presence and help, to love one another with pure hearts fervently, to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, to cleave to the truths revealed to us in Scripture and not budge from what the Lord had said; to take the gospel out and not wait for people to come in, to live in newness of life if you professed faith in the Redeemer.
‘In all of this he led by example. Peter saw these things with crystal clarity, and these were the themes of his ministry, which he also exemplified in his life. They are not original ideas of Peter; they are the stuff of the New Testament, but the Holy Spirit had persuaded him that this is mere Christianity and, if Christ were Lord, we servants were constrained to live like this. He sought to do so by grace and to support all who lived and preached these truths.
‘He was also a real Derbyshire man, a farmer, gardener, fisherman and capable user of his shotgun. He was invited everywhere to preach the gospel and is known from Scotland to Cornwall and across Northern Ireland.
‘He never sought this recognition. The thought never entered his mind. He sought to serve God and take any opportunities the Lord in providence gave him to make his Saviour known.’
The thanksgiving service for Peter Hulland, at Stanton Lees Chapel on 24 August, was attended by about 200 people. It was marked by joyful solemnity, mixed with deep sorrow at his passing, and also a strong sense of the Lord’s presence.
Roger Fay chaired the meeting and afterwards led at the interment. Chris Hand (Crich) preached movingly from Psalm 23 on Jesus as our good shepherd, and Brian Gadsby gave a heartwarming, gospel-centred testimony, with particular reference to Peter’s influence on his life.