Peter Ham

My wife Jenny and I both come from Redruth.  We met in Redruth Baptist Church in our teens.  I didn’t come from a churchgoing family, but a friend at school had invited me (numerous times!) to the meetings that the church was then holding for youngsters such as myself.  So I found myself coming to the evening services on a Sunday, as well as the later “youth squash”, as it used to be called.  And the preaching I heard was seriously heavy-duty stuff, from the earlier chapters of the Bible book of Romans, about my being a sinner and subject to God’s judgement.  I was a bright kid, studying sciences at school, and well able, I thought, to think for myself - but this stuff convinced me.  Within a couple of months I realised I needed saving - and saw that Jesus was the perfect Saviour.


And so I met Jenny in the youth group - she had already been a Christian for a couple of years.  We started “going out” just before I went off to university, and married  (also at RBC) soon after I had got my first degree in Natural Sciences at Cambridge.  We then lived in Cambridge for three years while I did a Ph.D. in chemistry, setting me up for a career in chemistry research.


I got a job just down the road from Cambridge in Harlow (Essex), so we moved there in 1982.  We quickly became members of Oakwood Chapel, an independent evangelical church that had been planted early in the history of the New Town.  Our two children, David and Joanna, came along in our first few years there.  My employer, originally Beecham Pharmaceuticals, became first SmithKline Beecham and then GlaxoSmithKline over the 22 years we were there.


After a few years I became involved in the leadership team of the church, soon after the pastor of the church moved on elsewhere.  So my experience of church leadership - teaching as well as organising - has really been mainly learned “on the job”, although based on a superb foundation of Biblical teaching we received at Redruth and then at Eden Baptist Church in Cambridge.  (I also got roped into playing the piano fairly regularly at Oakwood too, but that’s a different story.)


At the end of 1999 a possibility suddenly arose to go part-time in the labs, and that coincided with a particular need at the church, with several of our leaders stepping down at the same time.  So, although we had wondered for years whether God’s plan might be for me to go into “Christian service” (though just working at a normal job should really count as this - it’s a bit of bad terminology, actually), now was the time to take that step of faith!


For five years, then, I worked three days a week in the labs, and two (plus Sundays!) for the church.  Towards the end of that time, when our children were nearly through school, and it was becoming clear that our parents back in Cornwall needed us a whole lot nearer to hand, we received a Christmas letter from the then moderator of Tuckingmill, asking, totally out of the blue, whether I might be interested in “a quiet Cornish pastorate”.  After a lot of further thought and prayer, we concluded that this was the right step to take - which is how we ended up back in Cornwall at the beginning of 2005.


What are my passions, would I say?  I think it’s so important to really get to grips with God’s message of “amazing grace” in the Bible.  So much of my work is simply that, to make sure that our church’s teaching is true to the Bible, thought through, relevant and clear.  I also think it’s really important that “Gospel churches”, if I can call them that, work together wherever possible to advance the Kingdom of God together - far too often the world sees “the church” (or churches) as riddled with hypocrisy, and acting as competitors to each other.  What we have in this part of Cornwall, with a small group of evangelical churches increasingly doing this, is unusual (perhaps in part because of the geography?), but it’s something I want to do my part to support.


Oh, and it’s just great being a grand-dad.  Both “kids” are now married and settled “up-country”, so we have to plan our holidays well.  Life as “empty-nesters” is still very good, though, with the wonderful county of Cornwall to further explore with Jenny.  And I’m one of those strange guys who finds cricket more interesting than football, and still quite into classical music.  Even getting into gardening, though ...