Roger Parker grew up in rural Washtenaw County, between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti in a home his father built on his grandparents’ farm. The farm, at the corner of Geddes and Dixboro roads, is now the location of the Parker Mill County Park. Roger’s great-grandfather built the mill itself, after he and his new bride arrived from England in 1861.
Roger and many of his family members attended the Geddes One-Room Schoolhouse through seventh grade before going to Ann Arbor for high school. His early church experiences were at the Dixboro Methodist Church, where he was baptized and confirmed. Pastors and other members at the church gave special attention to the development of young people through Sunday school, sponsoring a Boy Scout troop, hosting a youth fellowship group, and supporting the Wesley Foundation—the campus ministry at the University of Michigan. “I was drawn into leadership positions that deepened my faith and sparked my interest in exploring pastoral ministry as a life-long vocation,” he says.
Roger attended the University of Michigan while living at home and working odd jobs to study music, social sciences, and social work heading to Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas, for ministerial studies.
Roger served many communities as a minister in the United Methodist Church. His first assignment was at Plainfield and Trinity UMC parishes in Livingston county. He then was appointed to Stoney Creek UMC and then to Bay City UMC. It was in Bay City that Roger met his future wife Judy. “I was attracted to her gentle spirit and her big heart, among other things,” Roger says. “We have been married for thirty-seven years. We both had been married previously and brought our children into a blended family, which is a great blessing to us—especially in these later years.”
Roger and Judy then were appointed to Trinity UMC in Flint, Michigan—a move that would prove to be life changing in many ways. The Trinity community experienced many socioeconomic and personal challenges. Children often attended worship on their own, without parents or other family members. Roger organized and led a children’s choir—known as the Trinity Singers—and wrote music for the group. He supported and helped organize the development of a performing arts day camp for Flint children.
When it was time to move on from their call in Flint, Roger and Judy moved to Tennessee, where Roger served as a minister for twenty years, first at LaVergne First United Methodist, then Saint Luke’s UMC in Colombia, then at Franklin First United Methodist.
Roger relied on Judy for many things during these years, especially her empathy and passion for elderly community members and those experiencing physical pain. “Judy has very sensitive ‘antennae’ for those who suffer,” Roger says.
The couple moved to Dexter for retirement and found Saint James to be a place where everyone remembered their names. They appreciate the congregation’s welcoming and supportive ethos. And they are delighted to be part of a church that so openly invites everyone to the table.