Max is now in Glory

Rev Max Pengelley

3rd June 1922 to 14th April 2021 (Aged 98.9)

Thank you, to everyone who knew Max, and in so many ways, showed your respect and support at this time.

If you experience any problems with this Web Site, please contact or Msg 0418 913 120.

Please excuse the random tense on the various pages, with “My Web Page”, “Max’s Web Page”, “Dad’s Web Page”, etc… as “I”, “We”, “Ruth & John”, doubt that “you” / “anyone” will be confused :{>>

Celebration Details

Max’s “Final Newsletter”

Many friends were on Max’s Christmas Card list, and we only had a “Snail Mail” address. To ensure that everyone Dad cared about heard the news, we sent out his last newsletter shown below.

Order of Service – 7th May 2021

Max’s Celebration Service was held on the 7th May 2021 at St Anselm in Kingsley at 2:00pm

View Event’s in Max’s Life

Thanks to Peter Stone at The Big Picture Factory for the printing of the service booklet and large picture posters.

Videos of Max’s Celebration Service

Live-Streamed – Copy of Facebook Video

Service – Camera at rear of the Church

Presentation – by Ayodele Ogunmokun Hunter (Granddaughter)

Slide Show – After Service (during Afternoon Tea)

Slide Show – Pictures from Poster 3 (The Last Ten Years)


John Pengelley (Son)

Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone for caring enough to be here today or connect online, as we celebrate the life of a truly remarkable and faithful man of God, and an amazing father and role model. To Ruth and I he’s just Dad (or My Dad), as for years there was a competition about who had the best Dad, and today I think I need to finally announce that the contest is a draw, we both did.

Preparing to talk, looking at Photo’s, and contacting the many people in Dad’s life, really bought home who he was to others. There have been so many amazing testimonials of the difference Dad made in so many lives during his ministry, and of his faithfulness, supporting some organisations with prayer and his tithe for almost 80 years.

His life was about caring for others, and really making a difference, and a few early examples come to mind.
I remember him being approached by the local drunk who wanted a “few bob” as he was hungry. Dad would never say no, but he wasn’t going to buy the next beer either, so he’d take him to the café, get him a hot pie and a cuppa, and make sure he was OK. I could tell you so many more stories like this one.

In everything, he put others first, which he learned from his father. When dad was a boy, his father got a new job after being out of work for a while, and the family had been struggling. Grandpa was approached by a stranger in a similar predicament, who asked if he might take the job and Grandpa agreed. The rest of this story, is that from this point forward, the Family NEVER really wanted for anything, and Dad learned that God is faithful when we truly live our lives as we have been commanded and treat others the way we would want to be treated.

Ruth and I are grateful that Dad & Mum accepted God’s call to come to WA, as we grew up on the Farm at the Roeland’s Village which provided such a unique environment, and we have many special memories from this time.

Dad was a problem solver and viewed every problem as a challenge. He bought a Citroen, then discovered that his local mechanic wouldn’t touch it, so he ordered the service manual and some special tools and did everything himself.

Mum wanted an organ, so he found a bargain. It was home made by a guy who designed and built it, but it wasn’t quite finished. Mum eventually got to play on it, but Dad played with it for years and this project really advanced his electronics skills. For one of my birthdays, he made me a Billy-cart, but Omeo was very hilly, and being concerned for my safety, he designed and installed a “foot brake”.

He had a knack for finding the silver lining in everything and when he had tiny ants in his kitchen, he would exclaim, “wonderful, free bench polish”, then he would grab a cloth, and with a circular motion, polish the bench.

The advice given by Dad has served me well and I’m very grateful for his wisdom. He used to explain that the best way to learn was by experience and would pause before adding, it doesn’t always have to be your own.

The example he set was to commit to something and see it through. He decided maybe 20 years ago that he wanted to live to be 100. I think he was keen to test his theory that the people who live the longest, are the ones that have the most birthdays, and it is hard to argue with that logic. He joined the Vario Gym and then more recently had in-home help with his strength and fitness, and we are so grateful for the many people who helped him almost reach his target of 100. He was to be 99 in 7 weeks, so 98.9, but he was getting very tired and has now gone to his well-earned eternal rest.

We rejoice for Dad’s amazing life, the way he cared for Ruth and I, the care he showed for others and for his ever-present quick wit and his sense of humour.

We know he is having a great time in his new heavenly home, but he will be missed.

Ruth Ogunmokun (Daughter)

It is an honour to speak about my Dad, the Reverend Max Pengelley.  I could literally talk for hours about Dad, but today I must be brief.

Although Dad had a Christian upbringing where Bible reading and Church attendance was a way of life, as a young man, his relationship with God seemed more about tradition and not deeply personal.  In his quest for a closer relationship with God he met with a minister who asked him to read Revelation 3:20 in the Bible that says,

“Listen, I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”

“Who do you think that verse is about?” the minister asked.

“I suppose it is talking of Jesus.” Dad replied.

“You’re right,” he said, “and you can open the door and ask Jesus to come in. Would you like to pray?”

And so, Dad said he prayed a simple prayer to ask Jesus into his life and left that place so full of joy he felt his feet hardly touched the ground as he walked home!

He signed a Dedication slip that he glued into his Bible, which reads,

“As a professing Christian, I now dedicate my life without reserve to Christ, that the Holy Spirit may fill me and guide my life.”  Max Pengelley, May 1947.

I can testify that his life was filled and guided by Christ, even until his last moments on earth when in hospital, grateful for the nurse’s help, his tired heart just stopped.

As unexpected as it was, leaving us all utterly stunned, we accept this as God’s perfect time to take him home to Heaven.  I’m imagining the joyous reunions he’s having with dear Christian friends and family who have gone before him, including Mum.

When Dad thanked people for their help and they said, “No problem”, Dad would say, “Good.  I don’t want to be a problem.”  His prayer was to live in his own home, be as independent as possible, and in particular, to stay sharp mentally.  His prayer was indeed answered.

Dad enjoyed the relationship he had with the various service providers who came to his home, and that he had appointments with, particularly after recovering from life-saving surgery when he was 95 – that was a miracle in itself!  So again, we thank everyone involved in his health care. He would often quip, “I get worn out being so well looked after.”

Thank you St Anselm’s family for the prayers and practical support you too have given Dad. God even planted two St Anselm’s church members in the park home next to Dad’s at Cherokee Village. They didn’t know Dad lived there until after they had bought the house. They kept a keen eye on Dad, daily popping in, reading the Bible with him, and beautifying his garden.

As you know, Dad genuinely loved and appreciated everyone. Of the many lovely comments we’ve received, one simply said, “He always made me feel special.”

So very true. Throughout my life, Dad has given me all the time and attention I needed. Nothing was too much trouble. One time he was working on his sermon in the study and I wanted to go ask him something. He overheard Mum saying, “Ruth, don’t go and disturb Daddy at the moment.  He’s very busy.” Dad opened the study door and said, “But I’m never too busy for my children.”

In the home, Dad set a wonderful example of respect and love.  Years ago, someone gave them 2 plastic bears. Dad, who liked a play on words, named them, “Bear” and “Forbear.” Bear, meaning to take responsibility for and support; and Forbear, meaning being patient and forgiving. The bears have always sat together in the kitchen; their names a reminder to bear and forbear one another.

Being a country clergyman can be challenging. In each of his country parishes, Dad was responsible for several church congregations in the district and travelled many kilometres from one place to the next to conduct services and visit people. In his typical organised fashion, he mapped out the district and knew where all the parishioners lived.  He figured out who he could see, along what route, and tied in as much as he could in one trip. He had to be prepared for anything – chopping up a fallen tree and dragging it off the road; going through muddied dirt roads and getting out of being bogged; and there was always the danger of wild life on the roads.  The prayer Dad prayed as he set off was, “Lord, keep me from harming your creatures; and your creatures, from harming me.”

The scope of his influence over the years cannot be measured. In his first parish of Neerim South, a young man called Fred Morrey committed his life to Christ and trained for the ministry.  Fred’s last letter to Dad in May 2020 was to thank him for introducing him to Jesus, which led to his 60 years in ministry.  A few months later Fred died.  Imagine the joy of him and Dad now catching up in Heaven.

In closing, there is a motto that Dad has passed onto us from his father.  The story goes that as a young apprentice carpenter, his father and supervisor had finished repairing a homestead verandah.  As they walked away, the supervisor turned back to look at the job and said, “Well, that’s all the better for us having been here.”  It made such an impression that his father immediately adopted this as his motto. 

Similarly, and especially because of his commitment to honour God, Dad has always done his best to make improvements. In my opinion, the world is “all the better for him having been here!” 

We greatly miss Dad, but because of God’s Gift of Eternal Life, we have confidence that this is not “Goodbye” but “See you later.”

David Pengelley (Grandson – John’s Eldest)

It is undeniable that Grandad was a special human and I have no doubt that was largely in part to how closely he walked with God. 

As the oldest grandchild (and the only one that lived within 5000km for many years) I had the pleasure of many holidays spending days and weeks with my grandparents all to myself at their home in Bunbury, some years later my brother joined me, and I am pleased to know he got to enjoy many similar memories of time spent with Grandad. 

Grandad was excellent at making you feel like the only person in the world when he spent time with you, and as a young child what a marvellous thing that is. 

Bush walks were a regular delight and highlight, so much so that to this day I still own a memento found on one such walk. Playgrounds were also a staple of time in Bunbury, and not just the local one around the corner. It seemed that Grandad was always hunting out new playgrounds with new adventures and delights awaiting upon each visit, as well as the tried and trusted picnic grounds.

Grandad was also certainly a tinkerer. He loved knowing the workings of things and seeking to not just repair but augment and improve. I was always fascinated at the way he took that small Casio digital keyboard and retrofitted its “brains” into a traditional organ – just amazing. It is no surprise then that he took such joy in both jigsaw puzzles but also the plastic block puzzles we call LEGO. LEGO is always in fashion, just ask my 10 year old son, but it was different and more special when it was with Grandad, it was not just a toy, it was quality time.

So where is the walking with God? 

No visit to Bunbury was complete without experiencing my grandparents’ faith in action. Grandad truly believed in a God who had sent his son to die to save him, and he showed that belief through the way he lived every day.

Firstly, he committed his life’s work, his career to serving God. I have incredibly fond memories of leaving early on a Sunday for the drive out to the parish in Donnybrook and being included through activities like snuffing out candles, and then driving to tiny remote churches in the middle of nowhere for picnic lunch and seeing another service being led by Grandad, with Grandma always on the organ. I realise though, that was his job.

What truly stands out to me and challenges me as a Christian to this day is the daily time spent reading his bible and praying. Mid-morning after breakfast there was always a “quiet” time in the house, which as a young child seemed to go forever, during which Grandma and Grandad would sit together at the dining table with their bibles and spend time together with God reading and praying, often for various missionaries and mission organisations. 

After moving to Sydney as an adult I spent much less time with Grandad, only seeing him on the occasional visit to Perth. I was delighted though that after the birth of my son Grandad was able to visit Sydney and baptise him to welcome him into God’s family, and then several years later we brought my daughter here to St Anselm’s to be baptised by him also.

I may not have followed him into the clergy, but I think much of my mindset about what it means to faithfully serve has no doubt had its origins in witnessing the service of this great man.

Christian faith for Grandad was not a set of memorised verses, religious routines, ticking boxes and moralistic quips but a core part of who he was that touched not only every part of his life, but everyone else’s life that he touched.

Ethel Willsmore (Younger Sister)

I am Ethel Willsmore. Max’s youngest sister by 12 years. Max was a fourth generation Australian. He was my hero. He literally helped me fly. We went to a very steep hill, and he told me to run down the Hill. He also ran and lifted me off the ground by a handful of my clothes and I flew.

When Max was 14, he moved to Adelaide for work and every ‘homecoming’ was special family time. As a little girl the sombreness of war and Max enlisting didn’t affect me. It was about then we left Willow Creek and shifted to Uraidla. Max gave me presents, a shell necklace from the islands, my first very own Bible and after he came home a dear little black doll and a book by Anneas Gunn called ‘The Little Black Princess’.

Recuperating from back injuries after the war he did some studying home. I was a pest. I would creep up and we would it have a tickle fight. He was so very tolerant

It was about this time he responded to God’s call on his life and ever since God has sustained him through thick and thin.

But it was not until after we had both lost our spouses that we had ‘two of us’ and ‘three of us’ time with Dorothy as well. Jesus was and is close by and central for us and everybody.

Dorothy Willsmore (Oldest Sister)

Max, our caring loving Big Brother. He has always been there for us. He has cared for us in more ways than we know over the years.

When we lived in Tintinara, he was there, rescuing me from my many scrapes, like having my arm stuck in a tree trying to get birds eggs, and then preventing me from having other ADVENTURES our mother wouldn’t appreciate. I can hear him now, “Dorothy get down from there, you will fall.”

He accompanied us walking on our way to school to Torrens Vale. 7 miles to and fro we walked. Up hills and down hills and some of those hills were very long. When he reached secondary school age, he left us to board in Yankalilla so he could attend Yankalilla High School. He came home at weekends to spend time with the family, getting a lift to Inman Valley. From there he walked to Willow Creek. One time he walked in home to a very fractious baby that his mother was caring for. With one look at Max the baby settled, took his food from Max and was perfectly behaved. Such was the calming effect Max had on many throughout his life.

But the best home coming of all was when he came home from war. What a celebration of Thanksgiving that was. He was safe.

He was a loving brother. He was a friend to so many. I miss him; actually I have always missed him.

Limited Time

It’s so easy to write down a few memories and then discover it takes 25 minutes to read it, so those that spoke, had the difficult job of just including just a few stories that were hopefully interesting and yet conveyed the intended message about who Max was and what he meant to us and others.

More Eulogies

We’d have loved to include in the service, testimony from the many family members who would have liked to have spoken, but sadly, there just wasn’t time, but happily they can all be included here.

Click HERE to read Eulogies from
Other Family Members with
Memories they would love to Share.

The Homily (by the Revd Gill Rookyard)

Christ is risen. Alleluia!  He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

The words of this powerful declaration of faith were some of the very last words that Max spoke, shortly before he died.

They’re the very words which ground his life and his faith in the Living Christ and inspired much of his life’s work as a priest, pastor, teacher and friend.

Max once shared that he learnt this faith at his mother’s knee, with fond memories of her singing “Jesus loves me” to him.

And with that wonderful and generous foundation of God’s love and faithfulness, Max – in his early 20’s – went on to make his own personal commitment of faith.

In the company of a wise elder, who shared with him that remarkable passage from the Revelation to St John, Max was encouraged to ‘open the door’ to Christ;

he did, and often shared how his life was never the same again.

This commitment would stand the test of time, and remained constant and steadfast throughout his years.

Max shared that faith generously, both in word and example, and our presence here today bears witness to his profound influence in our personal and corporate lives.

Many a word has been written, and many a picture painted, about that passage in the book of Revelation. But none so well-known and well-loved and well-travelled as this Holman Hunt painting.

It was – for Max and Lil – one of their all-time favourite pieces of art.

In its original form, the painting depicts Christ standing in a closed doorway with a lantern – as if waiting to be invited in. All sorts of things have been concluded about Hunt’s theology from this allegorical painting, however today is not the day to unpack these conclusions. Rather, it is the day to say how Max often described the Jesus he knew and loved and served.

In his words, “Always a gentleman, waiting to be invited in”.

Much of Max’s ministry was spent encouraging others to do the same;

encouraging others to ‘open the door’ to Christ that they too might come to know and experience the blessings, and joy, and deep love, of the resurrected Jesus.

The Gospel reading is the one Max himself chose for this service.

Sure, we didn’t have the exact verses in his handwriting, but we did have a note which said that he wanted the “Peter – feed my sheep” text.

I’ve spent much time reflecting on why;

why – out of all the readings he could have selected – did Max choose this particular text for his funeral service.

The account begins with the disciple Peter battling his shame on a fishing boat on the Sea of Tiberias:

Peter, who promised to stay by Jesus’s side even unto death. 

Peter, whose courage failed so catastrophically around a charcoal fire on the night of Jesus’s arrest.

That same complicated, wounded Peter returns to his fishing boat, to that place which is – for him – safe, comfortable, and familiar.

He flees to his boat, to his nets, to his vocation before Jesus.

It’s our all-too-familiar human experience.

But Jesus is even there.

And in that beautiful post-resurrection telling of the vulnerable encounter between Jesus and Peter, around yet another charcoal fire, Jesus redeems Peter.

Jesus surrounds his disciple with tenderness and safety, and invites him to revisit his denial for the sake of healing, restoration, and commissioning:

Do you love me?  Do you love me?  Do you love me? 

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

Feed my sheep. 

And in that moment, Peter’s shame meets divine grace, and grace is victorious. 

And perhaps that is why Max chose this text.

Perhaps he wanted us to be reminded, to know,

•  that we are all worthy of love and forgiveness;

•  that we are all offered the opportunity in Christ for redemption and for grace;

•  that we are all welcomed, accepted, loved, and yes, commissioned to serve.

•  But most of all that even in death, there is the promise and assurance of new life.

As I reflect on this story in the context of today, I can’t help but see Max in both Peter’s place, and in Jesus’ place.

I see him in Peter’s place because, like us, he knew personally and deeply the grace and redemption and forgiveness of his mighty and compassionate Saviour;

and in the place of Jesus, I can see and hear Max extending Jesus’ grace and compassion, and the invitation to forgiveness, to all those whose sought his spiritual wisdom and counsel.

Those of us who had the privilege of sharing in Max’s life and his ministry can attest that he was always so generous with his time, his wisdom, and his attentiveness to whomever was in his company;

he never seemed hurried, and always made each person feel worthy, and heard, and loved;

I can hear him uttering such similar words to Jesus; words of encouragement to those who are desperately longing and seeking … even knocking.

Max was, for so many, both fisherman and shepherd.

One might even say that he was the person who helped them to open their door. 

He was a remarkable and ever-faithful witness to the grace and love of our great God.

And in his ever-so-gentle and ever-so-humble Max ways, he spoke and lived in a way that manifest and bore witness to that holy love each and every day.

His highest aim, in all things, was to bring glory to God.

One of the most vivid memories of Max which will always be etched in my mind is of a Maundy Thursday service just a few years back.

In the pre-Covid world, we were still able to wash one another’s feet.

And there was this exquisite moment in the service where Max, already well into his 90’s, carefully knelt before one of the youngest children in our parish, and washed their feet. Afterwards, the young boy helped him to his feet, and to his chair, before kneeling himself to wash Max’s feet. He would only have been 4 or 5 years old. The two then embraced in the most holy encounter of Christian love and fellowship – both children of God, brothers in Christ, loving and serving one another. I remember looking around at those who were present, many of whom had stopped their own ritual washing to watch this precious moment unfold.

Such was Revd Max’s love and service, that even the youngest and most vulnerable among us were deemed worthy of his deep and holy care, affection and encouragement. 

And so today we give to God all the glory –

  • for Max’s life (both mortal and eternal),
  • for the community of faith we shared with him,
  • and for the assurance and confidence we have that Max is now counted among the great saints in heaven, forever praising our Lord and God, that God may receive all glory and honour and power.

Our beloved brother, your service is complete.

Your sister Ethel told of how, on returning from the war, your dad exclaimed,

“My boy is safe. He’s home!”

And now your heavenly Father says the same –

“My boy is safe. He’s home!”

Photos of Max (A brief timeline in pictures)

Note: If you’d like a “better” view of any photo, right click on it and choose “Open in a new Tab”

In a Dress

As a Young Man

In the Army

Met Lilian and Married

At Omeo (3rd Parish)

Preaching on his 90th

Celebrating his 90th

In Hospital for 95th Birthday

Birthday 98 (Last Birthday and final Age + 45 Weeks)

Car Park Church 2020 (COVID-19)

After going to the Gym (April 2021)

Hearse (with Max) Arrives at the Church

Coffin in Church at St Anselm for the last time

Interesting Fact. Max’s feet are facing the “people” because he was “Clergy”
Normally, the feet face the other way.


Remembrance Table

Church Photos

Laying of Rosemary and Communion

Procession Leaves the Church, Clergy First

Then Pall Bearers (Luke, Josh, David, Jon & Gabriel)

Then Family with Gill (Rector at St Anselm and Bishop Kate)

Dad ready for his Final Earthly Journey

Hearse departs

Hearse Send Off

After Service Refreshments

Family Celebration at Dad’s that evening

Dad’s Home – Now Empty

And some Special Memories


For Max’s 90th, a large poster was prepared with hundreds of family photo’s of Max, his Family and Friends
For the Celebration service, a New poster was made showing just the Last 10 Years (Max, Friends & Family)

Thanks to Peter Stone at The Big Picture Factory for the printing of the service booklet and large picture posters.

Max is 90 (1922 – 2012)

The last 10 Years (2012 – 2021)

Slideshow of the Poster Pictures (The Last 10 Years)

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