Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Bonita Knox hopes to help church members reach out in service to the community. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.
By Darrell Todd Maurina: CNJ staff writer
Although she’s a lifelong Lutheran, Pastor Bonita Knox never planned to enter the ministry as a young girl. In fact, before going to seminary she worked in mortgage banking dealing with defaults.
“I was a political science major and I loved it because it encompassed so many things I enjoy, sociology, economics, politics, and so forth,” Knox said. “I found that yes, it was an absolutely wonderful major for me, but a piece was missing and that piece became very clear as I discerned that I was called to go to seminary and be called as a minister of the word and sacrament.”
Knox has now exchanged her banker’s business suit for the black vestments of a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church of Clovis. As a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Knox belongs to a denomination which has ordained women since 1974 and she said she hasn’t run into difficulties due to her gender.
“This church has had lots of exposure to women in all shapes of ministry as interims, but I believe I am the first pastor,” Knox said.
Since arriving with her husband Kevin on July 19, Knox said she’s enjoyed getting to know Clovis and her church.
“This is a fabulous church in a fabulous community of gracious loving people,” Knox said. “The focus is on the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and how to proclaim it to the world.”
When she left her hometown in Colorado to attend Wartburg Theological Seminary in Iowa, Knox said her gender and prior secular career weren’t issues.
“We are called when we are called. It could be out of college, it could be second-career people, and it could be much older adults,” Knox said. “The average age of enrollment in seminary is still 35 in the ELCA and equal men and women.”
While she’s new to New Mexico, her family isn’t. When her grandparents immigrated to the United States as ethnic Germans living in what is now Russia, they first homesteaded in Logan before moving to Colorado and making their career in ranching and farming.
“In that culture, my father and grandfather were very particular about learning and speaking Spanish,” Knox said. “When I was named it was natural to be named with a Spanish name.”
Trinity Lutheran will be Knox’s first charge as pastor, and she will be formally installed at 3 p.m. on Aug. 15 in a service open to the local community, not just church members.
Knox said her focus on ministry in Clovis will be to help church members reach out in service to the community.
“Certainly I wish to continue the mission from inside the church to outside the church,” Knox said. “There are a myriad of things I’d like to do, but first things first — concentrate on the mission of God, the mission of the church to the world, and being sent out in Christ.”