A lifelong member of Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Parker has represented the denomination at the World Council of Churches (WCC) since 1996. She first served in the WCC as a proxy to a Faith and Order meeting, then served on the WCC Faith and Order Commission as well as the WCC central committee.
Parker has been a commissioner on the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs since 2014. She attended the commission’s meeting in South Africa on 2-7 November. She said that the expression of ecumenical concern about the many challenges facing our globe is important in the formation of the next generation of theologians and leaders.
“For example,” she said, “when I teach, I use publications and case studies about statelessness to illustrate the complexity of multiple intersections of marginalization—gender, race, class, and lack of nationality.”
That sense of inclusivity is ever-present in her scholarship, said William Lawrence, professor emeritus and former Perkins dean, in a letter affirming Parker’s nomination. “She has heard the silenced voices of Black, gay and trans youth.”
Parker is both an alumna of Perkins as well as a member emerita of the Perkins faculty. Until her retirement in May 2021, she was the Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology at Perkins.
“Dr Parker was loved by her students and esteemed by her colleagues at Perkins,” said Craig C. Hill, dean of Perkins School of Theology. “But her influence stretched well beyond our campus. She is globally recognized as an ecumenical leader and as one of the preeminent theological scholars of her generation in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.”
Parker also served as associate dean for Academic Affairs at Perkins. As a J. William Fulbright Scholar, Parker spent 2019-2020 in Cape Town, South Africa, focusing on the role of religious leaders in preventing and intervening in teen dating violence.
In a letter affirming Parker’s nomination for the award, Bishop Lawrence Reddick of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church praised Parker’s dedication to scholarship, to Perkins, to ecumenical causes, and to her local congregation. “Having joined the Perkins faculty in 1998, she has inspired countless others into scholarship,” he said.
Parker’s career began in 1983 as a research scientist in the department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. After completing a certificate course in Christian Education at Perkins, she came to Perkins as a full-time student in the fall of 1989. She earned a master’s in Religious Education at Perkins and a Ph.D. in the Religious and Theological Studies Joint Program at Garrett-Evangelical School of Theology and Northwestern University in 1996. She returned to Perkins in 1998 to join the faculty.
She is currently distinguished visiting professor for the 2021-22 academic year at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.