In Memoriam: Dr Peter R G Trumper

Dr. Peter TrumperDr. Trumper was born in the army barracks in Chatham, Kent, on July 28, 1934. Yet, from the age of five he lived most of his life in Wales, growing up in the capital city of Cardiff. There his father served as Assistant Secretary of the Territorial Army Association, thus making him second-in-charge of the Home Guard for Wales during World War Two. He recalled the early years of the war, the sirens going off, his father carrying him each night down to the shelter, and the death of his barber in the Blitz.

At school, Peter was taught by Mr. George Thomas, who later became a Member of Parliament and is remembered most of all for his tenure as Speaker of the House of Commons (1976-83). As a young lad he gained a scholarship to the choir of Llandaff Cathedral, becoming a Dean Scholar of the choir in 1947. Around this time he also made recordings at HMV studios in London. The receipt of a choral scholarship permitted him entrance into the English public school at Hurstpierpoint, where he continued his musical development by both choral involvement and exposure to radio broadcasting. He developed concurrently an acting ability, participating in Shakespearean plays as a member of the Literary Society. This dual interest in music and acting led to his entrance into Cardiff Castle of Music and Drama. During his studies he took up brief modeling jobs in fashion.

By the time Peter reached drama college he had become disaffected with those expressions of Christianity he experienced, which appeared to be merely external or hypocritical. This led him by his late teens to adopt atheism. Due to play the part of Jesus in a college play, fellow student Maureen Jenkins, organized a boycott. Once it had gained momentum the play was shelved. This led him, he recalled, to storm out of the College, raging, “Who is this Jesus?” Thus began his lifelong fascination with both the Holy Scriptures and the person and work of Jesus. He came to faith shortly thereafter under the ministry of Rev. J. Sidlow Baxter, taking along with him his college acquaintance, a certain Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins, he recalled, listened intently to Baxter’s sermon on hell, but took the matter no further.

The same year as his conversion, Peter preached his first sermon. For the time being, however,he continued his path into stage acting, and recalled how he played at theatres in Douglas (Isle of Man), Keighley (Yorkshire), Leatherhead (Surrey), and Chester (Cheshire). His scrapbook, rarely made public in his lifetime, reveals his performances were met with some acclaim in the newspapers. Yet, joining a cast late at the Devonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne, Peter sensed his call to the ministry of the gospel while reading a letter from his pastor, Jack Sharman, of Heath Presbyterian Church in Cardiff. Returning his Equity Card to the actors union at the end of the week (although the card was returned to him: “You will need this again!”), Peter set out to train for Christian ministry, eventually entering Aberystwyth Theological College in 1959.

On June 17, 1961 Peter married Margaret Patten of Cardiff. In July 1962 they relocated to the county of Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales, where they remained for twenty years. Peter ministered first in the Wiston and Llawhaden congregations of the Presbyterian Church in Wales, before seceding from the denomination and founding Bethany Free (now Evangelical) Church in Clarbeston Road near Haverfordwest. The early years of this ministry (1962–70) can be read of in As Far As to Bethany. During that period Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was asked by a couple where they could go to church while on holiday in Pembrokeshire. He replied, “There’s a man by the name of Trump, Trump, Trumpet, and by all accounts he’s busy blowing it!”

In the 1960s Peter and Margaret were gifted with four children: Andy (1962), Ceri (1964), Tim (1966), and Karl (1968). The same year as Tim was born, a teenager David Jones was converted under Peter’s ministry. David went on to minister in Crickhowell, Grove Chapel (London), more recently serving as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Australia. In the year Karl was born, Peter took up additional ministry as a Wycliffe Preacher of the Protestant Truth Society, representing the Society faithfully throughout Wales especially, until 1985.

Meanwhile, in 1982 Peter and Margaret relocated to Holywell, northeast Wales. There Peter became minister of Holywell Evangelical Church. A year later he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The disease eventually forced his early retirement at the end of 1986. On January 1, 1987, Peter established The Vocal Protestants’ International Fellowship (VPIF) and spoke to issues of the day as editor of the journal Rallying Cry! (then 1521), which went to many parts of the world. The debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis led Peter to preach his last sermon in November 1987 and to the closure of the VPIF in 2004.

Until the end, Dr Trumper continued a ministry of prayer and witness to his children and their spouses (Judy, Colin, Brenda, and Lori), his grandchildren (Sarah, Hannah, Ellie, Rachel, Rebekah, Peter and Matthew), his sister June, his friends, and carers. He had many fine carers, but Margaret (“Maggie”) was always the best and the most enduring. On June 17th, 2015, they celebrated their fifty-fourth wedding anniversary. Dr Peter Trumper was taken to the glory of heaven several weeks later on the Lord’s Day morning of July 5th. By the grace of God he was ready to meet his Lord, echoing before losing consciousness several days prior, the words of King David, “My times are in thy hand” (Ps. 31:15) ~ the Psalm with which he had closed out his pastoral ministry twenty-nine years earlier.

He never lost his sense of humor or irony. While he would not have wanted to die on the birthday of his daughter, he would have been delighted, as a true Brit, to give us each year something else to think about on the American July 4th weekend than the loss of the War of American Independence! Emerging from a family avid about tennis ~ his father lost the final of the Army Championship in 1924, and therefore failed to get into Wimbledon ~ he died on the middle weekend of the 2015 tournament, but not before predicting the two winners: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. The fact that he was taken home before the outcome was known, points to the Lord’s priorities. These priorities Peter Trumper knew and lived, often quoting the words of Jesus: “For what does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Dr Peter Trumper found ultimate profit not in his singing, his acting, his family, or in his preaching, but in his Savior alone. He chose as the opening words of his funeral bulletin, “Christ is all” (Colossians 3:11). We are certain that there was no irony in that.

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