The Rev. Leroy Parker wasn’t a regular churchgoer as a boy. He didn’t get his first Bible until he was 17.
One of five siblings growing up in rural Alabama with a disabled mother, the family priority was putting food on the table rather than prayer at bedtime and church on Sundays.
But Parker, 38, is convinced that God parlayed his hardscrabble Black Belt childhood into a ministry.
On Sunday, Parker will be installed as pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, just the eighth in its more-than-100-year history.
“My call came from God himself,” said Parker, who was teaching elementary school when he heard God’s whispered command to attend divinity school.
“Being a young man, I never would pursue on my own volition,” he said. “I didn’t choose the ministry — ministry chose me.”
Parker and his wife, Mistee, a Greenwich elementary school teacher, live in Bridgeport with their 4-year-old twin sons, Ryan and Evan.
Before his election as senior pastor in November, Parker served as the interim pastor after the departure of his predecessor, the Rev. Ivan Pitts. Since he arrived, the growing multi-cultural congregation has expanded from 500 to 700 members, church officials said.
New Hope Deacon Ed Torian said the congregation is grateful that Parker, selected from a field of 75 applicants, answered what clearly is his true calling.
“We’re really pleased as punch to have him,” Torian said. “He is able to teach and preach for children and grandchildren about the experiences he had, so that we can apply those in our daily life.”
Source: Stamford Advocate | Nanci G. Hutson