On July 16, the BMH Editor’s Blog told the story of Jack and Jim Parsons, brothers who were recently reunited after more than 70 years and who both attend the Grace Brethren Church in Columbus, Ohio.
More than a week later, a story about them appeared in the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch. (Stories have also appears on the local television stations.) To read the complete Dispatch story, which also quotes former senior pastor, Jim Custer, click here.
Long-lost brothers members of same church
The private investigator Jim Parsons had hired to find his older brother called last month with a loaded question: Are you sitting down?
Parsons, naturally, wondered what would come next.
The day before, Kenna Peterson-Knotts had phoned to tell the 76-year-old Worthington resident that she thought she’d found Jack Parsons.
Her words marked the culmination of a decades-long search for a sibling Jim Parsons never knew because of the fallout from an ugly family separation 72 years ago.
What, then, could she possibly tell him that would top that?
Yes, he’s definitely your brother. And Jack lives 20 minutes from your house, in Powell.
“It was a true ‘Wow!’ moment,” said Jim’s wife, LeeAnn. “It was like, ‘This couldn’t be! How could this be?’ To find out he was that close.”
Jim and LeeAnn Parsons had assumed that Jack was living either in Virginia — their boyhood home — or Tennessee, the last place they knew he’d lived before the trail went cold.
“We were preparing to get off the phone and pack to head to Tennessee,” Jim said.
Another surprise, though, lay ahead.
When Jim and LeeAnn Parsons called their son, Jimmy, to share the news that Jack lived so close, Jimmy reminded them that a Jack Parsons attended their church, Grace Brethren Church of Columbus, where they had been members for 28 years.
LeeAnn went racing for the church directory to compare addresses. They matched. Flipping to the photos, she found Jack and his wife, Anna, right next to herself and her husband.
“Over the years, dozens of people had asked if we were related, and I always said, ‘No, my family is all from Virginia and Tennessee,’ ” Jim said.
Until a month ago, in fact, the couples had not met.
… the careers of Jack and Jim Parsons eventually led both to the Columbus area — Jack in 1974, in the middle of a long stint as a U.S. Postal Service inspector that included work in Kingsport, Tenn., and Jim in 1979, when he helped introduce Hospice of Columbus.
Jack and Anna joined Grace Brethren in 1976, and Jim and LeeAnn in 1983.
At the sprawling complex on Worthington-Galena Road — the church has more than 3,000 members — Jack has been heavily involved in church organizations, but Jim less so until recently.
Consequently, their paths didn’t cross.
“It’s a great emphasis on what we try to tell folks: that church isn’t where you go, it’s what you do,” said Jim Custer, senior pastor at Grace Brethren from 1968 to 2004 and still on staff as a teaching pastor.
To read the complete story of Jack and Jim Parsons, click here.