It’s a “monumental accomplishment” for most churches to keep a pastor for three years, Scott Setzer, director of missions for South Roanoke Baptist Association, told the Williamston Memorial Baptist Church congregation April 10. That Sunday the church honored Robbie Parker as he retired after 41 years of serving in full-time ministry, highlighting 29 of those years as senior pastor of Memorial Baptist.
Parker graduated from Campbell College, now Campbell University, in May 1972. He received his master of divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, Ky., in 1975.
Parker was ordained to the work of gospel ministry by First Baptist Church of Ahoskie in August 1975, where he served as associate pastor for two years. He then served Aulander Baptist Church as pastor from 1977 to 1986 before starting at Memorial Baptist.
Robbie and Malinda Parker, right, were honored by their church Williamston Memorial Baptist Church recently. Robbie Parker was the church’s pastor for 29 years and has been in full-time ministry for 41 years.
Associate Pastor Dean Harrell and Youth Minister Jason Braswell recognized Parker for “a job well done” – baptizing 252 children, teens and adults; faithfully leading the church in observing communion; walking with members in seasons of grief and loss; and presiding over many marriage ceremonies. They recognized his wife, Malinda, for her support of Robbie’s ministry; teaching children’s Sunday School; and leading the senior adult ministry. They also thanked their children, Scott and Brad, for their involvement in worship, technology, children and youth ministries, and for sharing their parents with the church in ministry. Harrell declared Parker pastor emeritus and presented him with a plaque during the service.
In giving his remarks, Setzer spoke about often meeting with new pastors whose resumes state one to three years of experience with other churches.
“I’m thinking, ‘You don’t have enough time to get to know your people and establish yourself in ministry.’ When I talk to new ministers who come into this association or ministers who are pastors for the first time, Robbie, I hold men like you as examples to them.”
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, delivered a message that encouraged parents and grandparents to disciple children and plan for the church’s future while reflecting on its history. He commended Parker for what he had accomplished in light of Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
“[Robbie], you have invested your life in younger men,” Hollifield said. “They benefit from it, and churches benefit from it because you have been teaching others what God has taught you through other people.”
Perhaps the most notable, light-hearted appreciation shown to Parker was Scott West’s presentation comparing the pastor to former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, who announced his retirement in March after winning Super Bowl 50.
West, a deacon at Memorial, said, “That’s the way I view Robbie Parker. He’s leaving this church at the top of his game.”
West juxtaposed statistics from Manning’s football career with Parker’s ministry: Manning played for two teams over 18 years; Parker served this church for 29. Both performed on Sundays – Manning played 266 games; Parker preached 1,363 sermons. Manning won a record 200 games; Parker won 614 new church members.
“In all seriousness we wish you many, many years of happy retirement,” West said. “We’re so proud to have called you pastor for 29 years.”
Throughout his ministry, Parker also served as moderator and vice moderator for the South Roanoke Baptist Association; president of the Martin County Ministerial Association; on committees with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina; on the ministerial board of advisors at Chowan University; and on the board of trustees for Martin General Hospital. He currently serves on the board of trustees at Chowan University and the board of ministers at Campbell University, and sponsors a scholarship for students at Chowan University through the Chowan Christian Service Association.
Parker will be available for pulpit supply and interim positions. Email [email protected].