Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary Alumni Association honored Joseph C. Parker Jr., pastor of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Austin, with its Distinguished Alumni Award Nov. 8. The award presentation was made at the Friends of Truett dinner held during the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas in San Antonio.
The Truett Distinguished Alumni Award honors a graduate for his or her vision, accomplishments and service to the gospel in both the church and the broader community. The award is presented annually to a graduate whose life work embodies the highest tradition of Baylor's motto, Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, For Church, For State.
A graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Parker earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Georgia and his law degree from the University of Texas, where he was selected as a member of the Order of Barristers as one of the top 10 graduating students in trial advocacy.
Parker was Truett Seminary's first African-American graduate when he received his master of divinity degree magna cum laude. In addition, he has served as the first alumnus and African-American chairman of Truett's board of advisers. Parker also received a doctor of ministry degree in urban ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston.
Prior to becoming pastor of David Chapel in 1992, Parker served eight years as associate pastor for Christian education. From 1992-94, Parker, also a civil trial attorney and mediator, served as chief of litigation for the State Bar of Texas, before resigning the position to devote more time to his church. Parker also served as director and vice president of the law firm Long, Burner, Parks and Sealy P.C., in Austin, and in 1996, became the first African-American elected to serve as president of the Travis County Bar Association.
Parker has taught preaching at Truett Seminary and advanced civil litigation in trial advocacy at the University of Texas School of Law. He also has written articles for The Baptist Standard and the on-line Smyth & Helwys Uniform Series Bible Study.
Parker is involved in numerous community efforts, including domestic violence prevention and improving race relations. He was the recipient of the 1997 Marks of Excellence Award, the highest award given by the Central Texas Chapter of the National Forum for Black Administrators, for his service to the Central Texas community. He also was selected as Pastor of the Year in 1998 by Austin's KFIT Radio and served as chair of the first Citizens' Bonds Advisory Committee for the City of Austin in 1998. He also has given leadership to the Chestnut Neighborhood Plan in east Austin, a pilot comprehensive assessment and planning project.
Parker is listed in Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who Among Black Americans, Who's Who in Texas, Outstanding Young Men of America and Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. He was selected as 1973-74 Man of the Year by the student body of Spelman College in Atlanta.
Parker is a 1984 graduate of Leadership Austin, and in 1999 was selected by his classmates as the outstanding graduate of that class. He was the founding president of Project Men Act Now Inc. (M.A.N.), an African-American male mentoring program, and was named a 1992 KVUE Five Who Care Community Service Finalist.
Parker has served on the board of Safe Place Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survival Center and currently serves on the Austin Area Urban League. He is a Fellow of the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law.
Truett Seminary, located on the campus of Baylor University, began classes in August 1994 with 51 students. Since then, the seminary has conferred degrees on more than 200 graduates and has grown to a current student body of 391 students. Truett offers the master of divinity degree with concentrations in global missions, Christian religious education, theology and student ministry; three joint master of divinity degree programs in music, social work and education (counseling); and the doctor of ministry program. In addition, Truett will soon begin offering the master of theological studies (M.T.S.) degree.