The Okeene (Oklahoma) MB Church honored pastor Bennet Peters for 40 years of service with a reception Sunday, Jan. 16, at the Okeene Community Building. Peters has the distinction of being the longest-serving USMB pastor at one church.
Peters, his wife, Jamie, and their family moved to Okeene in December 1981, and he preached his first sermon Jan. 17, 1982. The Peters’ had moved 13 times in 10 years before coming to Okeene and were hoping to stay five or 10 years.
Four decades later, they remain in Okeene, population 1,240 at the 2010 census. In that time, Peters has performed eight marriages, 21 baptisms and 125 funerals, including 46 MB church members and 79 non-MB church members.
Being in such a small town requires Peters to work outside of the church. Farming is near to Peters’ heart, as he was raised on a farm near Corn, Oklahoma. When not behind the pulpit or performing church duties, Peters can be found on the farm feeding and checking cattle, driving tractor or doing many of the endless jobs required to keep a farm running. During his time in Okeene, Peters has worked for 48 people and businesses, including many local farmers and the Sooner Coop.
Peters says he enjoys his involvement in the Okeene community, including serving as announcer for grade school and junior high football games. He has served on the Okeene Public School Foundation for 16 years, including 14 years as treasurer. He currently serves as president of the Okeene School Board.
Though COVID-19 and other illness prevented some from attending the celebration, many family members and friends congratulated Peters and wished him many more years at the Okeene MB Church.
Asked what has kept him going for 40 years, Peters says: “Determination (and) not wanting to fail as a pastor, but also realizing that God put me in Okeene for a reason. He knew my love of farming, so he put me in this community. Also, the people in the church and community (are) supportive and (encourage) me to stay and not leave.”
Peters’ goals for the future are to continue outreach, whether in person or online.
“I hope to keep people coming to church and continue our outreach into the community,” he says. “We also can now reach so many people by being on Facebook every Sunday. There are times when we have more views on Facebook than we have people in the church, keeping in mind we have many members who are ill, getting older or no longer live in Okeene.”
Thanks to Leigh Bisel for submitting the information for this article.
This article has been posted by Christian Leader staff. The Christian Leader is the magazine of U.S. Mennonite Brethren.
I too honor you, Bennet and Jamie, for your seemingly “forever pastoral ministry!” Wow! All glory to the Chief Shepherd!