Meet Major Peter McGuigan
1. What is your current appointment, and what do you find most satisfying about it?
I’m Head of Government Relations Australia, based in Canberra, approximately one kilometre from Parliament House. I love connecting our Parliamentarians with the spiritual and practical mission of The Salvation Army in their local electorates. We strive to create a sense of being in partnership with Members of Parliament to solve the complex problems facing Australia – locally, at a state /territory level, and nationally. I also seek to support our MPs spiritually and pastorally.
2. Away from the appointment – if that’s possible! – what do you do to relax or unwind?
I have a second appointment as a writer with The Salvation Army Australia. I find I’m never more satisfied and at ease than going into the writing bunker for a couple of days and letting the Spirit of God take over my keyboard. Love writing about people, mission and the challenges we face as human beings and as The Salvation Army and the Church generally. I also aim to have a full-day spiritual retreat once a month, which refreshes my spirit and declutters my mind and heart.
3. What’s a favourite Christian song, and why do you like it?
There are several at the moment, but a stand-out for me is Hillsong’s What a Beautiful Name, written by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood. There is power in this song and great theology, starting in the first line: ‘You were the Word at the beginning’. The song’s bridge inspires faith in a God who has demonstrated great power in Jesus Christ to set us free from all that hinders and to be all we were intended to be – the very best version of ourselves in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s strength and God’s grace and God’s mercy and God’s love are all inherent in the name, the beautiful name of Jesus. As far as a traditional song of the Church goes, I always love to sing And Can It Be by Charles Wesley. What a song!
4. If you could have a good talk with a biblical character apart from Jesus, who would it be, and what would you talk about?
It’s probably my namesake, Peter. I know people understand him through the lens of the Gospels, in which he appears impulsive and sometimes even unthinking as he attempts to lead the disciples and garner the favour of Jesus. But if you see Peter through the Acts of the Apostles and through his own New Testament letters, you see a man who developed a deep reliance on the Holy Spirit and who, over time, modified his behaviour and cultivated an openness to the mind of God that created momentous breakthroughs in the life of the Early Church. That’s what I would talk about. A powerful example of Peter’s personal growth is in Acts 10 where, through a vision, the Holy Spirit challenges Peter’s understanding of the Gospel as being for Jews only. Peter’s initial response was ‘surely not, Lord’. But the Holy Spirit persisted, and Peter’s obedience led to the entire Christian community realising that with Jesus no one is excluded from God’s embrace, no matter what their ethnicity or background.
5. If you were talking to a group of Salvationists and they asked if you recommended officership or not, what would you say?
That’s a good question for these times when the vast majority of people are quite fierce about protecting what they do with their lives and how they spend their time. Today, we don’t easily let others, even a trusted community of faith, tell us what to do. But I have found that being a Salvation Army officer brings me great fulfilment in life. The main reason, I think, is because, in every appointment I have held, being an officer has given me wide access to journeying with people at all levels of society. Whether a corps officer or in communications roles, I have journeyed with civic leaders and people from all walks of life. It means walking spiritually and pastorally with people and in friendship and seeing how together we can make a difference in the world.
Interview by Major Mal Davies