John L. Peters

Class of
John L. Peters

John L. Peters

“I may not be my brother’s keeper, but I can be my brother’s brother.”
Rev. John L. Peters


John Leland Peters was born in 1907 in Arkansas and held degrees from Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University), the University of Oklahoma, and a Ph.D. in theology from Yale University. His work as a religion and philosophy professor at Oklahoma City University and as the interim pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church afforded him the platform to share his vision that stemmed from his time working as a World War II chaplain. From the very beginning, World Neighbors operated on the principle of self-help through training. For over a half-century it operated under his leadership, its methods were changed only when needs changed and never broke belief from Peters’ basic idea that people need a “hand up, not a hand-out.”

Fun fact

On April 22, 1951, Dr. Peters discarded a prepared sermon and instead preached a sermon that inspired listeners at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to form a non-profit corporation to help the world’s poorest people. World Neighbors was founded and more than 25 million people in 43 countries were helped. This visionary man even earned two nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Oklahoma connections

Peters came to Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University) in Bethany, Oklahoma, as a student.


Oklahoma City







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