The Rev. Dr. Edward Parker, Jr. has been pastoring for 41 years and preaching for 46 years. He has led the Berean Missionary Baptist Church congregation for the last 28 years. Starting with 325 members in April 1990, the congregation has had growth spurts up to 3500 members. Dr. Parker, along with his congregation, has established over 20 ministries that seek to make a difference in the community of humankind.
Dr. Parker accepted his call to the gospel ministry in July 1972 at the Monumental Baptist Church pastored by the Reverend S. B. Kyles. Upon a visit to his home church, New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. Parker was asked by Revered Willie G. Williams to return and help out with the ministry. This he did, and on December 2, 1973 Reverend Williams licensed Dr. Parker to the gospel ministry. On June 12, 1975 Dr. Parker was ordained to the gospel ministry. Dr. Parker pastored Littlejohn Baptist Church (Millington) for nine years and New Salem Missionary Baptist Church (955 South Fourth Street, Memphis) for four years.
Dr. Parker grew up during the late 40s and 50s in the segregated south in Memphis, TN. He graduated in 1956 from Booker T. Washington High School where the teachers told their students to be fully prepared for a change. His Father, the late Mr. Edward Parker, Sr., said to him “It’s going to be better for you than it was for me. So get all the education you can.” By the time Dr. Parker started college at Tennessee State University in 1956, he was eager to be a part of the movement to gain civil rights for Blacks.
After working at Union Protective Life Insurance and Universal Life Insurance Company Edward made the transition to work for the TN Commission on Human Rights under Governor Buford Elliott. As the Field Director for the West Tennessee area from 1969-1972; 1974-75, he was responsible for handling discrimination suits within state employment as well as job discrimination and dismissals. In 1970 Winfield Dunn was elected as Governor and increased financial support for TCHR after Parker and staff submitted a 10-point proposal on how to improve civil rights from a state perspective.
For years, Parker ignored the tugging of his calling to the ministry, and finally on October 4, 1972, he preached his maiden sermon. Convinced that pastoring was not for him, he turned his efforts toward entrepreneurship and opened Edwardian Accounts and Associates after taking a free course in tax preparation offered by IRS. His clientele included: The Fords, school teachers/administrators, judges, lawyers and various businesses. In addition to providing tax services, his company installed fences for residences and commercial properties. The company was also a part of a work release program providing employment to persons just released from prison.
When Parker’s business began to fail, he knew it was a sign that God had something different in store for him. With his exposure dealing with people, and the understanding of the structural, organization and financial aspect of business, he began to see it as God shaping and developing him to be a Pastor. Yielding to the call, he began to attend church more often working diligently in the youth ministry at his then home church, New Salem Baptist Church (Fourth St). Pastor Willie G. Williams saw Parker’s gift and began to allow him to preach every fourth Sunday which was designated as Youth Sunday. Also during this time, Parker’s tax clients sought him out, and he reopened his tax business expanding his clientele to preachers and pastors. In his fifth year of preaching, he was called to Pastor Littlejohn Baptist Church in Millington, TN.
After nine years at Littlejohn Baptist Church, the Lord led him to New Salem Baptist Church. It was there that he recognized the need to go back to school for theological training. In 1981-82, he earned a Bachelor of Theology and a Master of Theological Studies from Tennessee School of Religion. He was encouraged by the late Dr. Henry Rueben Green to attend the Memphis Theological Seminary. That he did and received a Master of Divinity in 1985. He furthered his graduate studies at McCormick Theological Seminary on the campus of the University of Chicago where he earned two Doctor of Ministry degrees: a Doctor of Ministry in 1993 and a Doctor of Homiletics in 2001. During the summer of 2003, he attended the Summer Leadership Institute at Harvard Divinity School.
In the fall of 1985, Parker became a Homiletics Instructor at Tennessee School of Religion, and on July 10, 2008, Dr. Parker succeeded Dr. Rueben Henry Green as President of the Tennessee School of Religion making him the first alumnus to be elected in that position.
He’s affiliated with a number of local, state and national organizations and is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. For eight years, he served as President of the Minister’s Division for the Tennessee Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Marvin Mercer and currently serves as the 2nd Vice Moderator of the Memphis District Association under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Eric L. Winston.
He’s married to Linda Rutherford Parker and has three children: Andre, Edward III and Edie Lynn and four grandsons: Andre Jr., Austin, Edward IV and Elijah and 1 great granddaughter, Maya Anjali.