Parker, Gary E. 1953-
PARKER, Gary E. 1953-
Born June 24, 1953, in Spartanburg, SC; married Melody Worrell; children: Andrea, Ashley. Education: Furman University, B.A. (history), 1976; Southeastern Baptist Seminary, M.Div., 1979, Baylor University, Ph.D. (historical theology), 1984.
Home—Decatur, GA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Bethany House Publishers, 11400 Hampshire Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55438.
First Baptist Church, Denton, NC, associate pastor, 1976-79; Hilltop Lakes Chapel, Hilltop Lakes, TX, pastor 1979-82; Warrenton Baptist Church, Warrenton, NC, pastor, 1982-85; Grace Baptist Church, Sumter, SC, pastor, 1985-90; First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, MO, pastor, 1990-96; First Baptist Church of Decatur, Decatur, GA, 2001—. National consultant on theological education. Writer.
Christy Award finalist, 2002, for Highland Hopes.
The Gift of Doubt: From Crisis to Authentic Faith, Harper & Row (San Francisco, CA), 1990.
Creative Tensions: Personal Growth through Stress, Broadman Press (Nashville, TN), 1991.
Principles Worth Protecting, Smyth & Helwys Publishing (Macon, GA), 1993.
Desert Water, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL), 1995.
Dark Road to Daylight, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1996.
A Capital Offense, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1998.
The Ephesus Fragment, Bethany House (Minneapolis, MN), 1999.
The Last Gift, Chariot Victor Publishers (Colorado Springs, CO), 1999.
The Wedding Dress, Victor (Colorado Springs, CO), 2001.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1994.
Death Stalks a Holiday (sequel to Beyond a Reasonable Doubt), Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1996.
Highland Hopes (part of "Blue Ridge Legacy" series), Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2001.
Highland Mercies (part of "Blue Ridge Legacy" series), Bethany House (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.
Highland Grace (part of "Blue Ridge Legacy" series), Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.
In addition to being the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia, Gary E. Parker is the author of several novels, among them Highland Hopes, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Dark Road to Daylight, and Highland Grace. Parker also currently serves as a national consultant on theological education.
In Highland Hopes, the first installment in his Christian historical fiction series "Blue Ridge Legacy," Parker introduces the Porter family. The Porters have resided in Blue Springs, North Carolina, for generations. As the series opens in the early 1900s, the highland family is headed by Granny Abby, the book's narrator, who is over one hundred years old. As Abby recounts her story to her great-granddaughter, when she was born her mother died, and her father eventually remarried the comely Elsa Clack. A few years later, after losing a bet, Abby's father lost their family home and the family fragmented in the hard times that followed. Determined to pursue her own dreams of an education, Abby boldly leaves home, but winds up in a troubled married to a "city slicker." "Beautifully written passages describing the Blue Ridge Mountains will woo the reader, as will the charming dialect of the characters," commented a reviewer for Publishers Weekly in reviewing the first installment in Abby's life story. Donna Scanlon, reviewing Highland Hopes for Rambles.net, dubbed the book "a solid page-turner that creates anticipation for the next installment."
In Highland Mercies Parker picks up where Highland Hopes left off, and continues to tell the story of Granny Abby. As the novel opens Abby is facing the challenges of motherhood, while also weathering the challenges set before her as a result of the Great Depression. Meanwhile, her brother, Daniel Porter, has to deal with the deaths of several people close to him, while concurrently grappling with the consequences of mistakes he made in the past. As the years pass, readers find Abby and her brother Daniel with heightened worries once again, as they watch their sons head off to fight in World War II following the Pearl Harbor bombing. Picking up a continuing plotline from the first book, Parker also draws readers into the ongoing feud between the Porter family and the family of Elsa Clack sparked by the actions of Abby's father.
Drawing from his own family's history, Parker concludes the "Blue Ridge Legacy" trilogy with Highland Grace, in which he recounts the final decades in Granny Abby's life. After the end of World War II, Abby and her family undergo changes that threaten not only the Porters but all of Blue Springs. While the Clack and Porter families finally strike a peace, Ben Clack threatens to undo this progress. Meanwhile, Daniel Porter is struggling to reclaim the family's homestead lost years through his grandfather's gambling. "Once again, Parker combines well-rounded characters and compelling plot with a strong sense of place and mountain traditions," stated Wilda Williams in Library Journal. Focusing on the series as a whole, Scanlon noted that Parker's "supporting cast of characters are well drawn" and that the author's "writing brings the little town of Blue Springs to life in.… a sustained narrative with a strong but not overbearing inspirational message."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1994, John Mort, review of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, p. 113.
Library Journal, November 1, 1994, Henry Carrigan, Jr., review of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, p. 65; February 1, 1996, Henry Carrigan, Jr., review of Death Stalks a Holiday, p. 66; April 1, 1997, Melissa Hudak, review of Dark Road to Daylight and A Capital Offense, p. 78; April 1, 2003, Wilda Williams, review of Highland Grace, p. 84.
Publishers Weekly, July 2, 2001, review of Highland Hopes, p. 51.
Bethany House Web site,http://www.bethanyhouse.com/ (October 7, 2003).