Meet Evelyn L. Parker, PhD

Evelyn L. Parker is the Susanna Wesley Centennial Professor of Practical Theology at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. She joined the faculty in July 1998. Parker received the Bachelor of Science from Lambuth College, Jackson, Tennessee, in 1974, and the Master of Science from Prairie View A&M University in 1983. Upon receiving her M.S. she served as a research scientist in the department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She attended the two-week Christian Educators Seminar at Perkins School of Theology from 1986 until 1989 and received a Certificate as an Associate in Christian Education in June 1989. The seminars were the impetus for further study in theological education and the transition from a vocation in biological research to one in educational ministry. During the fall of 1989 she became a full-time student at Perkins receiving the Master of Religious Education in 1991. In December 1996 Evelyn earned her Ph.D. from the Joint Program of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary/Northwestern University in Religious and Theological Studies, with an interdisciplinary emphasis in Christian Education, Womanist approaches to religion and society, and education and public policy. While at Garrett Seminary/Northwestern University, she was a Fund for Theological Education Black Doctoral Scholar from 1993-1995.

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 a J. William Fulbright Scholar, 2019 -2020, Cape Town, South Africa focusing on the role of religious leaders in preventing and intervening in teen dating violence. She 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.

Parker is a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi where she 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 has 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 served as co-secretary/reporter for the Nominations Committee. She is also a member of the 10th Assembly Planning Committee that will be 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.

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