I was born in 1948 in St. Augustine, FL where I grew up attending Memorial Presbyterian Church. As a young person, I went down the street to the Baptist Church and felt a call to ministry. After graduating from Carson Newman College and Southern Baptist Seminary, I served as a minister for about five years becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the Baptist context.
I returned to school at Florida State University where I earned a M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy. I had always been interested in missions as a child, youth and young adult. One aspect of that interest was fostered by studying Latin American Political philosophy during my studies.
During my time at F.S.U., I began attending First Presbyterian Church which then fostered me in the direction of entering ministry in the Presbyterian Church. In 1983, I received my first call to a Presbyterian Church and for the next 20 years, I served churches in Appalachia.
In 1991, my family and I decided we would take a bank of continuing ed time I had accumulated and go as summer volunteers in mission to Frontera de Cristo which was our first experience in foreign mission work. We continue that engagement to today. For 7 years I led the Presbytery of Redstone mission partnership with Frontera de Cristo that grew in its scope and was a true partnership of learning and sharing with one another.
During this time, I learned first hand the struggles of doing mutual mission in a respectful and non-dominating way. That journey of understanding has continued to this day in the work I do locally and internationally.
In the year 2000, I was invited by the president of the Presbyterian Seminary of Colombia to teach a course in environmental theology to the seminarians in Bogota and Barranquilla which began a long term relationship. In 2007 I responded to an urgent call of Alice Winters, our missionary in Colombia, for someone to teach systematic theology for a year. While that was a stretch for Mary Ellen and I, I was able to raise the necessary funds to make it happen and spent the year camped out in Barranquilla, teaching theology and working with a large organization of persons displaced by the civil war and activity surrounding the U.S. war on drugs.
Mary Ellen and I called Washington, D.C. home for five years. During that time, I served as a PCUSA voice with the Border Working Group, the Colombia Working Group and the Inter Faith Task Force on Colombia. Through those experiences, I learned a great deal about the process of government but more about border policy, an aspect of my present project.
Having moved to Florida in 2007, I have continued through the miracles of communication to be active on the Border Working Group. I also work on issues surrounding the Border and Colombia with the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.
I speak whenever possible on Immigration, Presbyterian Border Ministry, and Just Coffee. The past year and a half I have had the privilege once more to visit the border regions with Frontera de Cristo, spending a total of about 2 months with Frontera de Cristo and Just Coffee.
In 2011, I was invited to be the lecturer for the Durfee Lectures at First Presbyterian of Wichita, KS where I provided a three hour workshop on immigration called; "Faith Responses to Immigration: Faith, the Bible and Immigration". These are a few of the comments:
- "I appreciated so much your work with our church. You informed us regarding current immigration policy ... a strong foundation on which to build your sermon and faith based information ... personal experiences [of] your work on the border and in Mexico helped us understand and believe that a Christian response is essential to our work with strangers ... . The biblical references were indisputable in helping us think about and move toward appropriate action in regard to immigrants in our community.
—Ann Eastwood, elder, FPC, Wichita, KS.
- Parrish "was an educational, enlightening, and spiritual time.We received facts, stories, Biblical background, and good coffee, all in one package."—Jeffrey VanSickle, FPC Wichita, KS
I have used this workshop in other forums before and since. I am now looking to this venture and sharing with you my experiences and finally the book or books I believe may result.
I now teach philosophy and world religions at St. Johns River State College located in Palatka, St. Augustine and Orange Park. They let me teach online in the summer giving me the freedom to travel, research and write.
Now the book is complete and available and I am thankful for that acheivement. See links above.