In memoriam: Emeritus missionary Harriett Parker, 94

Harriett Parker

Harriett Hale Parker, an emeritus International Mission Board missionary who shared the gospel among East Asian Peoples in Japan, died June 23, 2019, in Mars Hill, N.C. She was 94.

Born Oct. 17, 1924, on a farm near Russellville, Tenn., Parker earned a bachelor’s degree from Carson-Newman College (now University) in Jefferson City, Tenn., and a master’s degree in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

She married Calvin Parker from Florida, a fellow student at Carson-Newman, on Aug. 7, 1948. They were appointed as IMB missionaries to Japan in 1951 and served there 37 years.

During high school, Parker first felt a call to missions at a Girls’ Auxiliary (now Acteens) house party at Carson-Newman. As she learned more through Acteens, her draw toward missions work grew until she dedicated her life to foreign mission service at a conference at Ridgecrest, a LifeWay Conference Center in North Carolina, in 1946.

After completing language school in Tokyo, the Parkers moved to Kanazawa, a city on the west side of Japan a few miles inland from the Sea of Japan, where there was little Christian witness. During their 10 years there, Parker, a church and home worker, converted their attic room into a home school for their four young children.

In 1965, the family moved to Tokyo, where Calvin would serve as treasurer for the Japan Baptist Mission. With the children attending an American school, Parker closed her home school but continued to manage a busy household and participate in other ministries in in Tokyo and later in Fukuoka, where Calvin taught theology at Seinan Gakuin.

“She taught English Bible classes, sewing and cooking classes,” her obituary noted. “She was a hospitality coordinator, secretary of the Japan Mission’s executive committee, and International School Board member. While Rev. Parker was pastor of Shibuya Baptist Church in Tokyo, she helped with many weddings and other church activities. She represented the Japan Mission at the Asian Baptist Women’s Conference and was a member of the Fukuoka International Women’s Club.”

Parker was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years in 2010. She is survived by her daughter, Patsy Parker Wolfe; sons, Franklin Hale Parker and John Lester Parker; two grandsons and one granddaughter.

A memorial service was conducted at Mars Hill (N.C.) Baptist Church on July 20.

Read an obituary here.