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New Presbyterian chaplain sees his role as ‘hands and feet’ of Christ

When Chaplain Dave Parker began his tenure at Salina Presbyterian Manor, he gave himself an extra job: cafeteria attendant.

Assisting with the lunch service was a good way to get to know the residents, he figured.

“But I’ve come to enjoy it so much I plan to keep it up, at least in the short term,” said Dave, who became the community’s new chaplain in July. “I find joy in serving in whatever capacity.”

His path to ministry at Presbyterian Manor is a long one. A former credit manager, Dave returned to school in 2015 to pursue a master’s of divinity from Liberty University. Though he was interested in chaplaincy, he found God had another plan for his life.

“God was telling me to step out in faith,” he said.

Dave accepted a call to pastor a church in Abilene, Kan., in 2018, and served as the pastor there while he was still working full-time. Last fall, he retired from his credit manager position, but continued his pastoral role.

“No ministry is part-time, but it’s a small congregation,” he said. That will enable Dave to minister to both his congregants in Abilene as well as the community at Salina Presbyterian Manor.

In his first few weeks in the community, he has focused on getting to know the residents and their needs.

“I see my role here to be the hands and feet of Christ to His people,” Dave said. “We all have that call. In that role I believe I’m called to share love, spread joy and offer the hope we find in Jesus.”

When Dave isn’t attending to his other pastoral duties, he shares his free time with his wife, Mari. Between them, they have four adult children who live “up and down I-70,” from Tennessee to Colorado.

The Parkers have a cabin in the mountains outside Creede, Colorado, where they travel together at least once a season.

Dave is also passionate about coaching and has worked with soccer players at all levels for more than 30 years. He currently coaches in the spring and fall for the recreation league in Abilene.

God has blessed his life, he says, and he’s grateful for the opportunity to serve the Presbyterian Manor community.

“If you love Jesus, you can’t have a better role than this,” he said.


Chasing the Son

By Dave Parker

Chaplain

I want to say thanks to residents and staff for the warm welcome I’ve received since starting here on July 11. Every day has been a blessing filled with new experiences and opportunities for growth. It’s been awesome getting to know you.

It’s my sincere pleasure to serve you all in whatever capacity God leads me: chaplain, pastor, lunchtime server, grocery-unloader or door-holder. It’s all in response to God’s call on my heart to serve His kingdom by loving and serving others.

The lunchtime gig has really helped me get to know you all better faster, and the time spent in the cafeteria has been an absolute blast. I love the interaction, jokes, and teasing — I believe we simply can’t laugh too much. And so far, I haven’t spilled a pitcher of tea on anybody … yet! But if I were you, I’d keep an eye out just in case.  

I do have a Facebook blog page that I post on occasionally. The page is called Chasing the Son, just like this column. I would sure love it if all of you who follow Facebook would “like” my page and send a friend request to my personal account. I’m always posting somewhere about something.

I’d like to share one my of my recent posts with you all. Life really boils down to each of us getting our priorities straight. That means making sure God comes first in everything. Look to Him in the big things as well as the small things and He will be with you in all things. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Through His prophet Moses, God had established for His people a system of animal sacrifices that was intended to create a pattern of obedience in their lives. But over time, the process had deteriorated to meaningless ritual. His people had lost sight of the true cleansing purpose of the blood. They’d gotten things backwards, placing the ritual as the priority and losing sight of the relationship.

God’s desire is for the relationship first, because that will always result in sacrifice and worship. Micah’s words remind all of us of God’s priority for His people. God wants obedience, to seek His will and to live as He prescribes for us. He gives us this pattern through His prophet. To do justice means to always see others through a lens of Jesus Christ. To love in kindness means to treat others with true Christian love and compassion. To walk humbly reflects a life that prioritizes the needs of others.

This is what God requires of His people: Love God first above all things. Second, love others more than self. That’s why He sent His Son as the ultimate sacrifice once and for all time, His blood on the cross, the atonement for the sins of all mankind. I believe putting God first is the very heartbeat of Presbyterian Manor and results in a passion to serve.  

My prayer for all of us: Father, help us keep our priorities straight. Help each of us to align ourselves with Your will and Your purpose for our life. Thank you for Your Son, Jesus, Your Word, Who shows us Your way. In His name. Amen.

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