Victor Wellington Peters was born September 29, 1902 to Margaret Maupin Peters and Fredus Nelson Peters in Kansas City, Missouri. Their home was active in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
After graduation from High School the Peters family moved to California where VW enrolled in the Southern Branch of the University of California (later known as UCLA) in their very first year of existence. After graduation from the University of California -- at that time only a two-year programme, VWP entered the University of Southern California (USC). Upon graduation from USC he entered Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS). Even though a Methodist, VWP would declare when asked why he did not choose a Methodist seminary that "Bible-believing Methodists knew not to go to Methodist seminaries." Amongst his highlights at PTS was being chosen by Dr. J. Gresham Machen to have the privilege of living in the apartment below Dr. Machen's. His seminary contemporaries included long-time friend Bruce Hunt, Harold Voelkel and Cornelius Van Til. He graduated in 1928 from PTS.
While still at PTS, on the evening February 12, 1928, during a congregational hymn at the historic campus chapel, "a voice seems to speak in V.W.'s ear, 'You are going to be an evangelistic missionary in Korea.'" Across the continent his parents independently have sensed the same conviction.
In August of 1928, VW embarked from Seattle, Washington to serve as a Southern Methodist missionary in Korea. Whilst serving in Korea he filled multiple capacities including those of evangelist and church planter. He was especially known in Korea for his love of Korean people. His mastery of the Korean language, his adoption of Korean ways, dressing as a Korean, living in a hanok (Korean traditional house), friendships with Koreans, his creation of art and architecture in Korean style and most significantly his marriage to a Korean all were evidences of his complete commitment to "incarnational living". He was appointed as pastor of a church in Kimwha at a time when no other missionaries would be considered to head a Korean church. He had become that know as a "Korean" missionary.
Not unimportantly, he also introduced the guitar to most parts of the country playing it often "Hawaiian style".
VW Peters' wife, Ruth (born Hahn Heung Bok), was born in Songdo, Korea. They had met prior in the Methodist Church at Songdo. At the time of their marriage Heung Bok served as an assistant to missionary Marjorie Beaird and would come every fortnight to the Kimwha Church where VW was pastor. A graduate of the Holston Institute for Girls in Songdo and Ewha College she was remarkably intelligent and gifted. Their marriage in 1938 was among the first marriages between a Korean and a westerner and perhaps the first performed in Korea between an American-born man and a Korean woman. In 1939, the couple gave birth to their first child, Gloria Grace (Young Eun) Peters, in their parsonage at Kimwha, Korea. Dr. Peters had designed the Kimwha Church, Margaret Peters Memorial Church, and its parsonage in Korean architectural style. This was featured in Daniel Johnson Fleming's Book Christian Symbols in a World Community.
The Peters left Korea in January 1941. In the United States he continued to serve the Korean community as a co-pastor at the Korean Methodist Church in Los Angeles, with the Oriental Missionary Society and with a 15-minute radio programme, "The Korea Gospel Hour", for the Korea Gospel Mission. Ruth helped with editing and children Grace, Margaret and Elona would contribute occasional trios. Cousin Floy Hamlin Heck would also provide solos. VW and Ruth hoped to be the first to return to missionary work in Korea at the end of WWII, but initially the U.S. occupying forces banned civilians from entering the country (see Peters and Masters). When Hahn Heung Bok contracted tuberculous entering Barlow Sanatorium on Nov. 13, 1945 little did they know she would be there another 42 months further delaying their return. Her extensive stay in the sanatorium, the Korean War and the growth of their family prohibited their ultimate return to Korea. Upon retirement as a professor from Azusa Pacific University in 1968, the Peters considered a return to Korea as missionaries, but again were unable.
Heung Bok, as well as supporting VW's work at the Korea Gospel Mission and the various churches, worked at World Vision.
VW served the following churches in the United States: Los Angeles Korean United Methodist Church from 1941-1946, as co-pastor; founder and pastor of Victory Park Community Church, Compton, 1948-1956; Trinity Methodist Church, Los Angeles, as co-pastor, 1956-1959; and First Church of the Nazarene, Los Angeles, 1959-1982 as pastor of visitation. Their final church home as a couple was Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene. He remained active in teaching Sunday School and in mentoring Korean students at Fuller Seminary well into his 11th decade.
He earned a doctorate in theology from Webster University.
Before his death he was the oldest living alumnus of UCLA, USC and Princeton Theological Seminary.
Peters is survived by his four children, Grace, Margaret, Elona, and Mel; eight grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren."
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth Hahn Peters, and unnamed baby lost through miscarriage in 1938 in Kimwha, Korea.
Victor Wellington Peters died Aug. 12, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the age of 109. Measured in "Korean years" he was 110. At the time he was living with his loving daughter Grace "Young Eun" Peters Alexander and devoted son-in-law Rev. Paul Alexander.
Victor Wellington Peters wore hanbok (Korean traditional clothing) nearly daily whilst in Korea.
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