JACKSON, Miss. (BP) — Shawn Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbus, Miss., was unanimously called on Dec. 19 by the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) to succeed longtime Executive Director-Treasurer Jim Futral, who will formally retire at the end of February after more than 21 years of service.
“We believe he is the Lord’s man. We believe he is a relational leader who knows how to cast a vision,” said Bobby Kirk, Chairman of the search committee and member of Roundaway Baptist Church, Doddsville, Miss., in his presentation to the MBCB executive committee earlier in the day.
After 11 months of meetings, the search committee voted unanimously to recommend Parker’s nomination to the executive committee, according to Kirk. The executive committee voted unanimously to send Parker’s nomination to the full board.
Parker, age 50, was born in Booneville, Miss., and raised by Christian parents in Michie, Tenn., about 12 miles northeast of Corinth, Miss. He was baptized at First Baptist Church, Michie, at the age of 10, and felt the call to pastoral ministry at the age of 16.
He received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a religion major from Union University in Jackson Tenn., in 1991. He holds both a Master of Divinity with languages degree (1995) and a Doctor of Philosophy in Old Testament and Hebrew degree (2000) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
“My philosophy of ministry is based on an understanding of the overarching purpose of the church. The biblical material emphasizes a three-fold purpose of the church: to exalt God, to equip believers for discipleship, and to evangelize the world,” Parker enumerated in written remarks to the search committee.
“Above all, the Christian leader should be a person of spiritual discipline who is faithful in prayer, diligent in study, intentional in evangelism, and mature in character. When a Christian leader is faithful in these ways, God will honor his work,” he wrote.
Prior to his call to First Baptist Church, Columbus, in 2003, Parker served as senior pastor of Metairie Baptist Church in Metairie, La. (2001-2003); pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church, New Orleans (1993-2001); and pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, Milan, Tenn. (1990-1991).
He has served on the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (2008-2014) and the board’s executive committee, as well as the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s resolutions committee (2017) and nominating committee (2019).
He also served as a member of Golden Triangle Baptist Association’s Executive Leadership Team (2004-2007) while in Columbus, and on the Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Board (1996-2002). He was moderator for Greater New Orleans Baptist Association (1999-2001) and president of the New Orleans Baptist Association Pastors’ Conference (1995-1996). He served on the adjunct faculty of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary from 2000-2003, and then again since 2011.
Parker’s interdenominational ministry involvement includes executive board memberships for both Global Maritime Ministries in New Orleans (1994-2003) and Greater New Orleans Federation of Churches (1994-2003).
“While there were so many things [the search committee members] were looking for” said Jim Futral, “one of the things all of them sought was someone who it became clear that God had led them to, and led him to the work. Shawn Parker is that man.
“This long-time Mississippi pastor is a gifted servant of the Lord. He has the giftedness and the experience and the enormous shepherd’s heart that will enable him to carry out the task of leading this great state. The future is bright, and Parker deserves our support and love and encouragement as he moves from the pastorate into this much larger role of caring for the Lord’s church and the mission that He has given to us.”
Parker has been married for more than 29 years to wife Elizabeth, a native of Clarksville, Tenn., whom he met while attending Union University. They have two children: Ana Elisabeth, 22, a nurse in Columbus, and Nathaniel Nowell, 20, a student at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss.