What we as parishes and dioceses do is to make possible the powerful witness of the people of God in this world…” The Rev. Alan Parker
The Rev. Allan Parker, Rector Emeritus of Trinity Church, Seattle, and one of the most senior members of the clergy in this diocese, loved being a priest, loved the church, cared deeply for its future, and never stopped being part of it. Though you might not always like it, he spoke his truth. To the end he stayed engaged and I will always admire him for it.
At nearly 80, Allan attended one of the first “Vacations with a Difference” we held at St. Andrew’s House. If you know the house you know it can be daunting for someone with a cane. The week scheduled was a fairly active one, but there Allan was, right in the middle of it all, engaging the young children and youth, and all the adults. He loved our studies out on the deck and in his usual style, played the role of counter point to great effect. Allan loved and missed his dear wife Jean, and would have long talks with my wife about her. He knew the tremendous role a spouse/partner plays in this vocation and he honored that.
He and I exchanged emails often. He amazed me by his desire to attend, and more often than not did attend clergy days, celebrations of new ministries, and ordinations. I so admired him for his continued engagement. He was to ride with me to the clergy day April 23rd of this year in Edmonds. At the last minute he had to cancel for a doctor’s appointment. Of course, like many regrets after a death, I wish it had happened.
He would often comment on my travels, this past year asking me, after my post about Hendersonville and Asheville, North Carolina,
“Did you see the home of Thomas Wolfe in Asheville and the angel from the title of his book in Hendersonville.?”
I had not, but next time in town, for Allan, I intend to go!
Allan was never sure about me. He once wrote:
“I really don’t like bishop’s much. I like what I see of you but I am not making any decisions yet!”
I considered that, from him, to be a great compliment. At Hood Canal he and I had a good talk about Lambeth Conference and Archbishop William’s lectures while I was there. It remains one of the finest explications on the vocation of bishop I can remember. I told Allan that the Archbishop used the term “unreliable allies” for bishops. Allan liked that, and remarked how he could see that to be so. His long years and wisdom suggested this intentional distance, and just a bit of suspicion, to be right. Such is probably good for the Church, and he knew it.
As a parish priest, Allan’s vision for the Church began
“With the community gathered around the Holy Table, being nourished by the Word of God…read, sung, preached, confessed, and shared in the Sacrament of the Body and Blood. That gathered community then goes out into the world to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. ….Words like ‘Stewardship,’ ‘evangelism,’ ‘renewal,’ ‘outreach,’ ‘mission,’ ‘ministry,’ are simply attempts to define and give substance to the people of God gathered for nourishment and the people of God scattered for witness. What we as parishes and dioceses do is to make possible the powerful witness of the people of God in this world…”
Allan wrote to me recently after the death of one of his colleagues. He recounted the many deaths he had witnessed, writing of the sorrow of being one of the last, and then finished the whole thing with this line, “Nobody is staying alive.”
He knew his days on the earth were numbered, as they are for each of us. But, as we celebrate the life of this great priest, and human being, we celebrate the life of someone who lived the life he had to the fullest and left us a legacy, and the challenge, of doing the same. I will never forget him.
The Rev. Allan Curtis Parker, Jr. died in the early morning of July 15th surrounded by his family. The Celebration of this remarkable life will be held August 17th at 2 p.m. at Trinity Church, Seattle. There is much more information about this amazing man below these reflections, I encourage you to read them.
Born in Los Angeles, California on September, 11, 1930, Fr. Parker was the son of Allan Curtis Parker & Edith Elizabeth Parker. He married Jean Marie Standal in 1951. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1953 with a B.A. in History. While in college he served as lay pastor in two rural Presbyterian parishes. He also was youth director in two urban parishes.
He received his theological education (M.Div.) at San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California. As a seminarian he served in a rural lumber town parish and in an inner city congregation in San Francisco. He was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry in June 1956. He served as clergy in that denomination for five and one half years in parishes in Kansas and Washington State.
As a Presbyterian he was active in Christian education, missions, camping programs, stewardship and clergy deployment. He was also active in a wide range of ecumenical organizations including the Washington Council of Churches and the then Seattle Council of churches.
He left the Presbyterian ministry at his request in December 1961. That same month he and his wife Jean were confirmed by the Rt. Rev. William Fisher Lewis at St. Mark’s Cathedral where he and his family became parishioners.
Fr. Parker read for orders in the Episcopal Church under the direction of the Rev. Canons Rudolf Devik and Morris Twitchell. He was ordained deacon on March 14, 1963 and priest on July 16, 1963 by Bishop Lewis. In the years following he served in parishes and missions in the Dioceses of Olympia, Missouri and Ohio. While in Ohio he completed a two-year course in pastoral counseling at Case-Western Reserve University (1972). He was also selected to be a Fellow of the College of Preachers (1971).
Returning to the Diocese of Olympia in 1974 as a non-stipendiary priest he served as the Assistant Administrator and Director of the Adult Day Care Center at Columbia Lutheran Home in Seattle. During this time he was active in solving problems for the aging. He led workshops on aging and was an aging advocate before the State legislature.
In 1976 Fr. Parker was appointed Diocesan Hospital chaplain by Bishop Cochrane. During the time he was Hospital Chaplain he also served as interim or supply priest in five congregations. He was appointed Vicar of St. David’s, Seattle (now Shoreline) in 1979 and became rector of Trinity, Seattle in 1984 where he served until his retirement in 1996. He became rector emeritus at Trinity in 2002.
Over the years he served the Diocese of Olympia in many ways. He was active in Cursillo, the Diocesan School of Theology (serving both on the Board and as faculty), the Hospital Chaplaincy Advisory Committee, and the Pastoral Care Committee. He served on the Stewardship; Christian Education; Leadership Training; Christian Social Relations; Aging; Personnel; Evaluation; and Ministry Committees and Commissions. He also served as President of the Standing Committee and as the Standing Committee representative on Diocesan Council and the Cathedral Chapter. In addition he served as Diocesan Historiographer from 1997-1999.
In the community, Fr. Parker was at various times active in Rotary, Lions, Scouting, senior citizen programs, alcohol counseling centers, youth training and drug rehab programs. He also served as First Vice President of the First Hill Improvement Association in the neighborhood of Trinity Parish, Seattle.
Fr. Parker’s wife, Jean, died in 2004. Allan and Jean were the parents of 6 children; Michael, Edith Anne, David, Janet, Annamarie and Amy.