Peter Blencowe was born in 1946 and met his wife Ruth in Adelaide where they lived and offered themselves for Christian missionary service in South East Asia in 1974, initially as bible teachers. They later served for a missionary organisation for 17 years abroad and seven years back home. In those years they had four sons who are now all married and they have four wonderful daughters-in-law and twelve grandchildren.
Those years were followed by 18 years in two pastorates, the first in Campbelltown and later the Heathcote/Engadine area (both outer suburbs of Sydney). Two of their sons have been involved with Flo Harris Lodge, one as a resident, and the other, with his wife, as the Youth Workers for five years.
This Australian Missionary News IPTV interview of Peter Blencowe can be viewed tv.bushorchestra.com or www.safeworlds.net
Speaking to anchorman Mark Tronson, Peter Blencowe explained that Flo Harris Lodge was initiated some 50 years ago with its original building Morton House, as a ministry of Petersham Baptist Church, to cater for country men coming to the city for their first employment or study. Interestingly enough, it was mostly Wollongong men who came in those early years.
A few years later the two tennis courts belonging to the church were surrendered for two new wings that are the men's and women's wings today; and there are now dining and social areas.
Ms Flo Harris was a stalwart of Petersham Baptist Church who served on the mission field in East Bengal (Bangladesh) where for many years she ran a girls' hostel. On her return, she became the visionary and driving force for the Lodge. Flo Harris was concerned that young men (and later, young women) had safe secure accommodation in their first or early years of study or vocational training.
Originally the Lodge catered only for Baptist young people; but today anyone can apply. The local universities list Flo Harris Lodge on their accommodation listings, so it is mostly 18-25 year olds who stay there, during their first tertiary studies or apprenticeship in and around Sydney. Many international students are accepted as lodgers, too.
Although it is a Christian Lodge in its philosophy and focus, and is a project of the Petersham Baptist Church, as illustrated by its leadership of Christian team leaders as not all who live at Flo Harris Lodge are Christians.
The leadership consists of The Master and the Youth Workers - a married couple required to be involved with the church, live on site in the Coach House, and to model the Christian life to their young charges.
The Petersham Baptist Church's youth ministry has a focus on the students at Flo Harris Lodge but not exclusively so. The night Church Minister is in effect the Youth Minister and the night church service is designed as a youth service as part of a wider youth ministry program.
The Flo Harris Lodge ministry is wholeheartedly supported by the Petersham Baptist Church and its Night Church Minister works in closely with the Youth Worker married couple who live on site.
Peter Blencowe sees a very bright future for Flo Harris Lodge. The need for youth accommodation is huge; they hardly need to advertise because word-of-mouth has been their champion.
"The ministry is secure as it is supported by Petersham Baptist Church; its structures of Master and Youth Workers is a proven formulae and we are proud of its reputation as a Christian marriage facilitator," Peter Blencowe smiled.