Alum Stories

PhD Alumna Dr. Evelyn L. Parker Named Distinguished Visiting Professor for the 2021-2022 Academic Year

Dr. Evelyn Parker
Dr. Evelyn Parker

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary will welcome “home” PhD alumna Dr. Evelyn L. Parker (G-ETS and Northwestern 1996) as distinguished visiting professor for the 2021-2022 academic year. Parker served on the faculty of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University for over 22 years and retired in May as the Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology. During the Fall 2021 semester Parker will be teaching a course entitled “Honoring the Body: Practical, Theological, Bioethical, and Biomedical Perspectives on a Spiritual Practice.”

Named a J. William Fulbright Scholar in 2019, Parker spent six months at the University of Western Cape and the South African Faith and Family Institute in Cape Town, South Africa, where she focused on the role of religious leaders in preventing and intervening in teen dating violence. Parker’s research interests center on religious identity and spiritual formation in African American adolescents, adolescents in sociopolitical movements, and their understanding of vocation, adolescent resiliency and vocation.

“Dr. Parker has long been a scholar and administrator of renown,” said President Javier A. Viera. “Her research and leadership have been instrumental in advancing knowledge and redefining boundaries in the areas of faith formation, gender, race, sexuality, sociopolitical movements, as well as the intersections of religion, science, and public health. She’s a proud Garrett-Evangelical alumna, and I’m honored that she would accept our invitation to return to her alma mater to continue her teaching and research among us.”

Parker is the author of Between Sisters: Emancipatory Hope Out of Tragic Relationships, (Cascade Books, 2017) and Trouble Don’t Last Always: Emancipatory Hope Among African American Adolescents (Pilgrim Press, 2003) and editor of The Sacred Selves of Adolescent Girls: Hard Stories of Race, Class, and Gender (Pilgrim Press, 2006). She has also published several chapters and journal articles on adolescent spirituality, including “Divine Fortitude: A Reflection on God’s goodness in black female child soldiers,” in Susan Willhauck, ed., Female Child Soldiering: Gender Violence and Feminist Theologies (Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019).

Parker is the President of the Association of Practical Theology and President-elect of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. She is also an active member of the American Academy of Religion, the international Academy of Practical Theology, and the Religious Education Association, where she has chaired groups, presented papers, coordinated segments of consultations and convened sessions. She served as a member of the grant writing team for the Perkins Youth School of Theology, a $1.4 million theological program for high school youth funded by the Lilly Endowment. She also served as the Perkins School of Theology academic dean from 2013-2019.

A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Parker grew up in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME). She has served the CME church as a local and district Director of Christian Education. She has also taught numerous educational ministry workshops and seminars on local, district, Annual Conference and Connectional levels. She represented the CME Church on the World Council of Churches (WCC), Faith and Order Plenary Commission from 1996 to 2006. During the WCC Ninth Assembly in 2006, she was elected to the Central Committee. Within the WCC Central Committee, she serves as co-secretary/reporter for the Nominations Committee. She was also a member of the 10th Assembly Planning Committee that was held in Busan, South Korea in 2013. During the 10th Assembly, she taught Bible study and shaped policy as a delegate representing the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. She was elected to the WCC – Commission of the Churches on International Affairs in 2014 and serves as the Moderator of the Statelessness, Migration, and Refugees Group. She is an active member of the Kirkwood Temple C.M.E. Church in Dallas, Texas, where she serves as Christian Education Coordinator.

Parker received a bachelor of science from Lambuth College, a master of science from Prairie View A&M University, a master of religious education from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and a doctor of philosophy from the joint program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Northwestern University.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.