Faithful Heroes: Peter Marshall
Peter Marshall became the voice of the Senate, as he served as their chaplain.
However, his story had a much different start.
He was born on May 27, 1902 in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland.
As a young man, he felt the Lord calling to him and dedicated his life to the Lord.
Life was not easy for him in Scotland. He said, “I worked for long hours. I dug ditches. I wielded spade and shovel. I was unemployed.”
He worked in Scotland as a machinist, before emigrating to New York City in 1927. He was twnty-four years old and had no money.
In 1931, he graduated to Columbia Theological Seminary.
Peter advised seminarians: “You must root your preaching in reality, remembering that the people before you have problems . . . doubts . . . fears . . . and anxieties gnawing at their faith. If you can see these things—preach them. And get down deep.”
Upon graduation of seminary, he was called as pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Covington, Georgia. He later served for a short time at Atlanta’s Westminister Presbyterian Church in 1933.
While in Atlanta, he met a student at Agnes Scott College, Catherine Wood. The couple married in 1936 and had a son, Peter John Marshall on January 21, 1940.
In 1937, Peter Marshall moved to Washinton, D.C. where he became the pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.
“A local store clerk gave up his lunch break to come to noonday services, explaining, “He seems to know God, and he helps me know God better.”
Dr. Marshall served as a beacon to the Washington, D.C. area throughout World War II. The church grew to three services that continued to overflow.
In 1946, he was appointed as U.S. Senate Chaplain.
One of his prayers said, “Save us from accepting a little of what we know to be wrong in order to get a little of what we imagine to be right.”
He served in this position until a sudden heart attack claimed him two years later on January 26, 1949. He was forty-six years old.
Peter Marshall was buried in Brentwood, Maryland’s Fort Lincoln Cemetery.
After his death, his widow was encourage to publish his sermons. Twelve of them were met in Mr. Jones, Meet the Master.
Catherine Marshall became a prolific author in her own right.
“Catherine Marshall donated a number of audio recordings of Peter Marshall’s sermons to the U.S. Library of Congress.”
Papers of his sermons and correspondence can be found at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and at the McCain Library at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.
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