The pastor of a church in Macon, Ga., apparently shot himself fatally after returning to his home from Sunday services, authorities said.
The Rev. Teddy Parker, Jr., pastor of Bibb Mount Zion Baptist Church, was found dead in the driveway of his home in Warner Robins, Houston County Coroner Danny Galpin told Macon’s 13WMAZ. He was 42.
His wife, Larrinecia Sims Parker, found his body. Authorities believe the gunshot wound that caused his death was self inflicted. The couple has two daughters, Kamry Tednae and Kerrington Tyier Parker. It could not be determined if they were with their mother when she found him.
In a sermon posted on Frequency.com from 2010 entitled “Facing Your Storm With Confidence,” the first of three parts, Parker told his congregation that God does not always immediately respond to struggle.
“There are times when God wants you to have faith,” said Parker, who was dressed in purple robes. “You might not be able to feel Him. You might not be able to see Him. You might not be able to hear His voice, but you’ve got to walk by faith. Not by sight, not by hearing, walk by faith!”
“God might not show up when you want Him, but when He shows up, He is always right on time!” Parker told the congregation. “And sometimes He waits until it is darkest before He shows up, but you can rest assured that He’s going to be there to deliver and see you through.”
In another year-old sermon posted on YouTube.com, entitled “What to Do When You Need God to Work a Miracle,” Parker said, “I know why I’m going through this—to prepare me for what is on the other side.”
News of his death sent shockwaves through religious circles.
“Pastor Teddy Parker, Jr., senior pastor of the Bibb Mount Zion Baptist Church of Macon, Georgia, went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, November 10, 2013,” the Rev. Robert Earl Houston, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Frankfort, Ky., posted on his website, Roberthouston.org.
Another post read: “Pastor Teddy Parker pastored the Bibb Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Macon, GA. They were building a new church….. #RIP.”
“Wow equally shocked to hear of his passing. A tremendous brother and preacher!” tweeted Dr. Craig L. Oliver, pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta and other locations.
The death sparked a lengthy conversation on at least one Twitter site about the need for members to support their pastors and for men and women of the clergy to seek counseling if they get overwhelmed with the responsibilities of overseeing the flock or other problems.
“Need 2 say this: my friend took his life after his 1st service. He was 42 years old & couldn’t preach his next service,” tweeted Dr. E. Dewey Smith, Jr., senior pastor/teacher of the House of Hope Atlanta, whose members responded that they were praying for Parker and his family and Smith, as well.
“Oh wow. It’s deep when he takes his own life. Ministry is a heavy yoke. Many don’t fully realize how heavy until it’s too late,” tweeted Moms Babely.
Another tweet said, “He was headed to preach @ his father-in-law’s church.”
Oliver voiced the sentiments of others who knew Parker. “It’s painful Bro…I just didn’t know….wish I could’ve done something….anything…..Praying for his wife, kids, church.”
According to Burnout.com, a website dedicated to helping clergy members to survive the stressors of ministering, pastors suffer disproportionately from stress-induced issues. The website quoted a New York Times story from 2010 that said: “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could."
The story listed some dazzling statistics on pastors: 13 percent are divorced; 25 percent reported not knowing where to turn for help when dealing with a personal conflict; 33 percent feel burned out within the first five years; 33 percent say ministry poses a hazard to their family life; 45 percent of pastors say that they've experienced depression or burnout severe enough to make them need time away from the job; and 57 percent would do another job if they were able to move on.
“1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure,” the Times reported. “Doctors, lawyers and clergy have the most problems with drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide.”
According to Parker’s section of the BMZBC website, he was born on June 10, 1971. His father was pastor of a church in nearby Warner Robbins. He had one brother and two sisters.
Parker graduated from high school in Alaska and attended the Theology International Seminary in Plymouth, Fla. He was ordained at age 22 at Fellowship Bible Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday School, conducted Bible study and worked as the church’s youth minister.
Parker was “a man of profound spiritual vision, gifted with intellectual qualities,” according to the website. He became pastor of BMZBC in July 1997. Under his administration, the church built a family life center, renovated the sanctuary and added 20 new ministries.
He also served as CEO of Next Level Community Development Center, which offers summer and after-school programs for children, the website said.
Church officials on Nov. 11 asked for privacy as the church deals with the tragedy.
"We consider this a private matter between the family and the BMZ church family.
We kindly ask that the public respects our privacy at this time," church official Lakesia Toomer told 13WMAZ.
Funeral services have not been finalized.
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