In the early 1960s, Eugene Peterson was planning to finish a Ph.D. in Semitic studies while he worked as an associate pastor at a Presbyterian church in White Plains, New York. He already had degrees in the field from the Biblical Theological Seminary in New York (now New York Theological Seminary) and from Johns Hopkins. But the academic career was put on hold: Peterson decided that his real vocation was to be a pastor. In 1962 he was called to plant a new congregation in Bel Air, Maryland, near Baltimore. The congregation, Christ Our King Presbyterian Church, eventually grew to 500 members. Peterson served the church for 29 years, during which time he and his wife, Jan, raised three children.