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Rev. Peter Van Hook remembered as community bridge builder in Provo

December 21, 2018

The Provo community lost a friend when Rev. Peter Van Hook of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church died of cancer Dec. 16.

When St. Mary’s was in need of a reverend, Van Hook opted to come out of retirement to help the small congregation. He served the last six years there.

Van Hook retired from serving full time at the church last summer.

Van Hook was a great lover of music and became known for community outreach via music and church work with the underserved in the downtown area. He also helped the church open its doors to numerous support groups in Provo.

Van Hook served 45 years as a clergyman for churches throughout California, Idaho, and in Salt Lake City. He felt a great passion for the historic St. Mary’s church located at 50 W. 200 North.

Van Hook was born May 5, 1947. He graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a bachelor’s degree. He received a Masters of Divinity from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and a Doctorate from the University of Utah.

Ruth Eldredge, organist at St. Mary’s, but member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, remembers Van Hook’s desire to build bridges with the community.

“I met Peter in 2012, when he came out of retirement to become Priest-in-Charge of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Provo,” Eldredge said in a email. “I had been rehired as organist just eight week previous. Having seen my share of priests come and go over my career as an organist, I wondered what to expect, but ultimately didn’t think much would change the church or my connections to it. What I didn’t know was that Peter had a vision of unity, love, and action for St Mary’s and for all of Utah Valley. His job was to build people, and he did it.”

Eldredge said that from her vantage point she saw him go to work listening to people.

“He left no back-row congregant unwelcomed, no curious BYU religion student uninformed, no potential disciple of Christ uninvited,” Eldredge said in the email. “Peter’s commitment to bridging community divides should inspire us all. He applied the full strength of his patience, vision, and influence to build relationships across his community.”

Eldredge noted that Van Hook became a common guest speaker in Brigham Young University’s music and religion departments.

“Peter was a model mentor,” Eldridge said. “He tolerated no animosity of any kind toward The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He treasured my faith, encouraged, supported, and expected my practice and belief. He embraced, my husband and children as part of my job.”

Van Hook is also remembered for his work with the Food and Care Coalition, the Utah Valley Ministerial Association and much more.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 22 at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark’s in Salt Lake City, followed by a committal and reception at St. Mary’s Church in Provo.

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