Rev. Harold Ralph Bonner
On May 5, 2014, at his home in Auburn, Rev. Hal Ralph Bonner passed peacefully from this life and into the presence of Jesus, his Lord. His beloved wife Gay was with him, as she has been for 58 years. Also with him were family and friends who had lovingly cared for him. He is survived by Gay; son Tad and his wife Debbie and their children Tyler, Jessica, and Nathan; daughter Jana Owens and her husband Darrell and their children Travis and Nikki; son Steven; brothers Gale, Bert, and Gary; sisters Eva, Sharon, and Valerie; and scores of nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews. He was preceded in death by parents Jessie and Harry Bonner, and sister Carolyn Lehman.
These were Hal's lifelong priorities-love for his Lord, love for his family, and love for those who knew him as pastor and friend.
Hal was born in Anaheim, California on August 28, 1929 to Jessie and Harry-the third child of eight siblings. He grew up in Anaheim in the decades before Disneyland. Hal gave his life to Jesus Christ as a sophomore in high school and sensed God's call to Christian ministry. He graduated from Anaheim High School, Pasadena College in 1951, and Nazarene Theological Seminary in 1954. Hal served as a minister of the gospel in the Christian Church of Gunn City, Missouri in 1954, then served as pastor in several Nazarene churches in northern and southern California (in Oakland, San Anselmo, Highland Park, Alhambra, and Auburn), ending his full-time ministry having served 24 years as senior pastor of Parkside Nazarene Church in Auburn.
After his retirement in 1997, he continued his Christian ministry in various capacities (Parkside's Pastor Emeritus and Minister of Pastoral Care from 1998 through 2007, mortuary chaplain and hearse driver, and assistant to the Superintendent of the Sacramento District Church of the Nazarene) but primarily as interim pastor at several churches from Sacramento to Sparks, Nevada.
Other ministers have described Hal as a "preacher's preacher." He edited and authored books of sermons to assist preachers: Proclaiming the Spirit, Proclaiming the Savior, and Proclaiming Good News On Special Days. He wrote two other books: Second String Heroes; First Class Saints and When God Speaks: Tuning in to Our Talkative God. In addition, he wrote Sunday school adult lesson series for the General Church of the Nazarene. Hal was elected to serve on the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene. Early in his ministry Hal was privileged to teach introductory Bible and philosophy classes at Pasadena College. He took his call to ministry seriously, and it was a calling, not a career.
His words were always chosen with care and reverence, because he so often spoke for God. "Sir, we would see Jesus," was engraved on a small plaque placed just above where he laid his Bible on one of the pulpits where he preached; his focused purpose, his commitment was living his faith and making plain the gospel message.
Whatever praise and gratitude we may have and feel for Hal, he would tell us that he was merely God's servant, utterly relying on the power and direction of the Holy Spirit, and used to point us to Jesus Christ.
Harold Bonner's earthly life was one of humble, loving obedience to his Savior and service to God's people. The world is better, and we are blessed because Hal touched lives for eternity. Hal lived for God and good. Hal loved people deeply-for God and good. Hal lived abundantly in integrity, sincerity, and grace. To God be the glory!
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Parkside Church of the Nazarene to the Harold Bonner Ministerial Studies Scholarship.
A celebration of Hal's life will be held at Parkside Nazarene Church on Monday, May 12 at 11 a.m.