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Couple recalls life plans before entering the ministry (video)

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Sept. 27, 2013 at 4:27 a.m.

Jim and Bonnie Pearson grew up on the same street in Houston and knew one another from high school, but it wasn't until years later in Victoria that they would begin a relationship, marry and enter into a life of religious service in the Lutheran church.

The Rev. Jim Pearson looks up at the white, wooden gazebo in DeLeon Plaza - the center focal point of Victoria's well-manicured downtown square.

Sitting next to his wife, Bonnie, on one of the park's many garden benches, he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

They enjoy the pleasant breeze of the second day of fall, watching a couple only benches down practice "sit" and "leave it" commands with a dog trainer and a playful beagle-mix puppy.

Not much has changed in the park where the couple once spent so many mornings and afternoons drinking coffee and eating lunch.

DeLeon square was the backdrop, more than three decades ago when they were first married, of many serious and not-so-serious conversations about family and career planning.

"We would sit here and talk about all the things we wanted to do one day, how many kids we were going to have - we were going to have three children," said his wife, 55.

Pearson was an accountant then, working inside the First Victoria building on North Main Street. His wife worked in clerical positions near the square.

Neither of them had any idea how differently their lives together would turn out, or that Jim would leave his career in finance to enter the seminary.

Early in their marriage while they were making all their plans, they had no idea they would later be called by God to move away from Victoria for about 20 years - only to move them back to the city two years ago so Jim could accept a ministerial position with First English Lutheran Church.

"All the days we spent here, we never knew we'd end up working in ministry in a church two blocks over," the 58-year-old man said.

The now-seasoned Lutheran minister, who is also the son of a Lutheran minister, said he didn't feel the call to enter the ministry until several years after marriage.

"I'd been ignoring it, I guess, for many years," he said. "But looking back, I must have been a boy when I first thought about becoming a pastor."

Bonnie said when her husband first approached her about leaving a comfortable career in finance to enter the ministry, she was hesitant, but understanding.

"I never tried to talk him out of it. I didn't want to interfere with God's plan for his life," she said, gently patting his leg with her hand.

So when Jim committed to the decision to enroll in seminary, the young couple resigned to the idea of leaving Victoria and decided to look at the next chapter of their life as a new and exciting journey.

"God paved a way for us the entire time," Jim said.

The couple moved to Iowa with their two small children - the third one came later - and Bonnie worked as a stay-at-home mom while Jim finished his degree.

The first call the new pastor accepted in the Lutheran ministry after completing seminary was in Yorktown, followed by Midland, Torrance, Calif., and a 15-year stint in Tyler.

But two years ago, they got the call that they'd be returning to Victoria to pastor First English Lutheran.

"We were very emotional, and we knew it was a sign that God was in control and that he was leading us back here," Bonnie said.

Upon arriving back in Victoria, the couple, now empty-nesters, drove through the town observing all the updates and changes.

And then they drove to DeLeon square, parked the car and walked around.

"It was fun to be back here. We got out and walked around, and it hit us that we were back," she said.

The Pearsons are enjoying their time back in Victoria and hope to stay for a while.

They realize now, all these years later, that their home is with each other and their plans are determined by God.

"Now, I just have this sense that God really is in control of all this," Jim said, looking around the park. "This has just been a real special place for us."



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