Parker, James A.


- May 19, 1916
A prince in our Israel was gathered unto his fathers when James A. Parker died. The end came in the home of his daughter, Mrs. Hopkins, of Lafayette, Louisiana, May 19, 1916.
Dr. Parker was a native of Alabama. In early life he was engaged in the practice of law, and his legal training was of great value to him.
He was converted in youth, and received into the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was licensed to preach in 1857, and was admitted on trial into the Alabama Conference, at Montgomery, December, 1860, Bishop Andrew, presiding. In his class was Rev. A. D. McVoy, afterward President of Mansfield College. Thus for nearly sixty years he stood as a “watchman on the walls of Zion,” warning men, and exhorting them to repentance and salvation by faith in Christ.
In 1861, he enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army, but, on account of ill health, be was discharged the following year. Recovering his health, he reenlisted, and was appointed by Bishop Andrew as Chaplain to Clayton’s Division, which position he filled until the surrender. He also served several pastoral charges before leaving his first Conference. In 1868 and ‘69 he was presiding eider of the Pensacola District.
In 1870 he was transferred to the Little Rock Conference, and was appointed by Bishop Keeper to Eldorado Circuit. Upon leaving Eldorado Circuit, he served three years as presiding elder of the Camden District, and following that, he spent two years on Magnolia Circuit.
In 1876 he was transferred to the Louisiana Conference, and was stationed at Homer, where he remained four years. For thirty years or more of active ministry in the Louisiana Conference, he served several of its districts, and some of its most important charges: Homer District, Alexandria District, Delhi District; Minden, Bastrop, Ruston, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, and other charges. Upon the close of his pastorate in Benton, in 1910, he was granted the superannuate relation, in which he remained until the end.
He was an instructive, forceful preacher. His sermons were clear, luminous expositions of Bible truth, and the earnest spiritual fervor, with which they were delivered, impressed them upon the consciences of his hearers, and he had many seals to his ministry.
Brother Parker was one of our ablest ministers. In the pulpit, among his people, and on the Conference floor, he was an acknowledged leader. The Secretary of our Conference says of him: “He was a strong preacher and a man of remarkably clear vision. His legal training was often evident in his public speech. He excelled as a debater, and few men could present a case on the floor more clearly than he.”
I was Intimately associated, with him in the work of the hoards and committees of the Conference, of some of which he was often chairman, and he was always courte-ous, and considerate of the rights and opinions of his co laborers. In the discussions, and in dealing with the perplexing problems that sometimes arose, I never heard him say an unkind word, nor utter a harsh criticism, nor saw him do a discourteous thing. Would that more of us were like him in these fine traits of ministerial character!
For four years, I was his presiding elder, and I looked forward to my visits to his charge, with the expectation of learning something that would be helpful to me in my, work. My love and respect for him were akin to the feeling of a son toward a father.
He died, as he had lived in the full assurance of faith. His was a long painful illness, but he never questioned his Father’s will, bore his suffering bravely, and WSS always thoughtfully, tenderly appreciative of the loving ministry of his family.
His devotion to his family is beautifully expressed by a daughter, who says: “Only those
who have lived with him in the Intimacy of private life know just how pure and good that life was. When semi-delirious, he prayed aloud, and preached the most beautiful sermons. At other times, in his delirium, he discussed ways and means for re-lieving the miseries of the war-sufferers In a paroxysm of great pain, be said, ‘All in God’s good time—His will, not mine, be done.’ Just the night before he died, be whis-pered, ‘All Is well!’”
We who knew and loved him sadly miss his kindly face and commanding figure In our Conference session. And we share in the loss, which is the greater sorrow of his devoted companion of many years, and his children. But our loss is his gain, and in the thought of John on Patmos, we can say, “He rests from his labors, and his works do follow him.”
The following song, composed by Brother Parker, during the last years of his life, was sung at his funeral. It bears eloquent testimony to his love for, and simple faith in, our Heavenly Father:

“My day of life will soon be past—
The sun is going down;
And when I’m free from earth at last,
I hope to wear a crown.

Chorus— “Starry crown, glory crown!
Ordained for saints to wear;
I’ll share those starry crowns in Heaven,
And reign with Jesus there.

“This hope to me by Christ is given,
Through crucial pain he bore;
And when I reach that home In Heaven,
A crown he will bestow.

“I’ll calmly bear my troubles here,
‘With the sweet promise given,
That be will dry each failing tear,
And crown my life In Heav’n.

“Ill struggle onward up the hill,
Though foes would press me down;
I still will do my Father’s will,
To wear a starry crown.

“Though life to me be toil and strife,
Or riches and renown,
I’ll gladly yield this mortal life,
To wear a starry crown.

“Then join in praise for victory won,
With all the Heavenly host;
Praise to the Father and the Son,
And to the Holy Ghost.”

Source: Journal Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1916, pages 60-61, by. J. D. Harper

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