Long-time Topeka pastor Leon Parker dies

“We never really intended to start a work in this neighborhood,” Leon Parker said of inner-city Topeka, Kan.

Parker, who had a long, fruitful ministry career, went to be with the Lord on Thursday, July 10.

Despite their reluctance to serve in inner-city Topeka, God had other plans for Parker and his wife, Beverly.

New Hope Baptist Church (now New Hope Food Pantry) held its first meeting in the Parkers’ living room on the first Sunday of February 1981. Twelve people were present who intended to join the church.

“We had one man who came in off the street very poorly dressed and barefoot in the snow—and drunk,” Parker recalled.

The Parkers had a long, fruitful career serving in inner-city Topeka. Leon also served as a chaplain with the Topeka Police Department for 17 years.

The Parkers retired from New Hope Baptist Church on Dec. 31, 2000. The church eventually closed its doors but evolved into New Hope Food Pantry.

But God was not through with the Parkers—next they served at First Baptist Church, Lyndon, Kan. After a second retirement, Leon kept active doing pulpit supply. They were members of Covenant Baptist Church in Topeka.

The people in Parker’s vast circle of influence are mourning his loss. Yet they are celebrating the life of the good-natured man who served Jesus passionately until his last breath.

Parker’s first pastorate was at Faith Baptist Church, Lawrence, Kan. Faith Baptist later merged with East Heights Baptist Church to become Cornerstone Baptist Church.

He then served as bivocational pastor of Mill Creek Baptist Church, McFarland, Kan. When the Parkers responded to God’s call to serve in inner-city Topeka, Mill Creek Baptist gave them a gracious send-off. It provided hymnals, literature and chairs for the new mission.

The celebration of life for Parker was held Tuesday, July 15, at Topeka Bible Church. Burial was in Penwell-Gabel Cemetery, Topeka, with military honors.

Officiating at the service were: John Thacker, pastor of Berryton Baptist Church, Berryton, Kan.; Fred Holloman, retired Topeka pastor and retired chaplain of the Kansas Senate; Lee Martin, retired Topeka pastor and retired Topeka police chaplain; and Casey Ingold, pastor of Covenant Baptist Church, Topeka.

Thacker told how of his call to preach and how Parker mentored him.

“I challenge you to find someone to mentor in your life,” Thacker urged the crowd. “Leon always found time to mentor.”

Ingold, who was Parker’s pastor, told how Parker constantly encouraged him.

“Leon loved and respected the office of pastor as few people I’ve ever met.”

Leon and Beverly Parker led a small group at Covenant Baptist Church. The night before he died, Parker played miniature golf with his small group during the church’s Family Night. The Parkers also went on Covenant’s mission trips to Arkansas.

“He finished his life well,” Ingold said of Parker.

Among the survivors are his wife, Beverly, of the home; three children; 10 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.

Memorials may be sent to New Hope Food Pantry, PMB 112, 2828 SW Arrowhead, Topeka, KS 66614-2447.