Rev. Peter Gunn Cheney
The Rev. Peter Gunn Cheney graduated from The Gunnery School in Washington, CT; from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY with a BA in Economic and Business Administration; from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA with a Masters of Divinity; was ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1975; and was the recipient in 2003 of an honorary doctorate from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. He also received graduate certification in pastoral counseling with an emphasis on adolescent development from Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, PA, and is a clinical member of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He has extensive training and experience in mediation and conflict resolution.
Peter has been in the fields of education and ministry for 42 years. Now living again in Tucson, he serves as an Associate Priest at the Episcopal Church of St. Michael’s and All Angels and as a member of the Board of Trustees for St. Michael’s School in the role of Past-President. For the last 15 years Peter has worked as Priest/Chaplain at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, a summer parish in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Peter also consults with Episcopal and other private schools throughout the United States on matters of mission, governance and leadership transition, and has conducted/facilitated sixteen head-of-school searches, including one at St. Michael’s here in Tucson in 2012. During the 2007–2008 school year he worked as the Interim Head of School and Search Coordinator at St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Peter served as the Executive Director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, headquartered in New York City, from June of 1998 until July of 2007. The Association is a membership services organization that supports over 1,000 Episcopal schools and their leaders throughout the United States and the Caribbean. The membership of NAES currently stands at 450 schools, many of which are parish-based like St. Michael’s in Tucson. Through its publications, conferences and a formal consulting service, NAES assists school heads, rectors, chaplains and trustees with numerous challenges and issues: Episcopal identity and religious life, church/school relations and governance, preparation for leadership transition and for heads/chaplains searches, starting or expanding an Episcopal school, trustee/vestry workshops and retreats, board orientation and self-evaluation, misconduct prevention training, conflict resolution, bylaw review and revision, strategic planning, etc.
Previous to his work with NAES, Peter served for over five years as Senior Associate Priest and Director of Development at St. Philip’s In The Hills Parish, a 2,000-member congregation in Tucson. While there, he helped coordinate a long-term planning process and capital campaign that resulted in the expansion of a community pre-school and the development of a children’s ministry and music center for the congregation. Earlier, he worked for ten years at St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire in a variety of roles, but principally as Chaplain and School Counselor, and as Director of Admissions; and from 2006-2015 as a Trustee at St. Paul’s and chaired the Board’s Trustees and Governance Committee. Peter has also served on the Board of Trustees of Imago Dei Episcopal Middle School in Tucson, and on the boards of three other Episcopal schools.
Throughout his career, Peter has been active in Episcopal dioceses in leadership development and the selection and training of candidates for ordination. Referring to his experience as a student in the early 1960’s at The Gunnery School, Peter writes: “I have been profoundly influenced in every part of my life and work with students and adults, by my ancestor Frederick W. Gunn, the 19th century abolitionist who founded The Gunnery. His spirit of faith, open inquiry and concern for the freedom and welfare of others has shaped my sense of vocation and understanding of leadership.”