Michael Parker

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Associate for Ecumenical Partnerships serving in Egypt since 2012
Serving at the invitation of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo

Contact Michael Parker (michael.parker@pcusa.org)

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Mission co-worker Michael Parker from Presbyterian Mission Agency on Vimeo.

Michael occasionally returns to the U.S. to visit congregations. Email him to learn about his schedule and invite him to visit your ministry.

About Michael’s ministry
Michael Parker is a Presbyterian teaching elder serving as the Director of Graduate Studies and a professor of Church History at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC), Egypt. ETSC is a seminary of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt. The school, founded in 1863 by U.S. Presbyterians, has its main campus in Cairo and two branch campuses, one in Alexandria and the other in Minya. The number of full- and part-time students is between 325 and 350, making ETSC the largest Christian seminary in the Middle East. Most of the students are from Egypt, but some are from other countries in the Middle East. As ETSC grows and develops it is well positioned to become a center for Christian studies for the entire region of the Middle East.

Country context
While most Egyptians are Muslims, Egypt’s Christian tradition reaches back to the apostolic era. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) celebrates more than a century and a half of ministry in Egypt with strong partnerships with the country’s Reformed churches. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Egypt encompasses eight presbyteries, several programmatic councils, and approximately 350 congregations throughout the cities and villages of Egypt. It continues its faithful service amid the throes of monumental societal change as Egypt’s government, constituted in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring, continues to take shape.

About Michael Parker
Michael Parker has dedicated his mind to scholarly pursuits and his heart to following God’s call.

“My call primarily is to teach in Christian seminaries,” he says. Michael has also spent much of his career living out another call, a call to Christian service abroad. He first sensed God’s leading toward cross-cultural ministry in the 1980s when as a seminary student he served for three months at a Christian radio studio in Pakistan.

“That call has been confirmed many times over in the succeeding years as I have served in seminaries in Sudan and Rwanda and most recently in the national offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Louisville,” he says. While working in Louisville he sensed God’s call to return to the classroom. Michael went to the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo impressed with the school and its faculty and appreciative of its strategic importance to Christians in Egypt and across the Middle East. He entered Egypt at a time of tremendous ferment, realizing that the need for trained clergy in the region is now more pressing than ever.

“There have been tumults in the streets, the targeting of Christians, and a change of government,” he says. “And there is still much that is unsettled. My challenge is to do my job well in serving Christ in this place, amid the uncertainty that lies ahead.”

Michael, a member of National Capital Presbytery, served as a Presbyterian mission co-worker in Sudan and Rwanda between 1995 and 2006. He taught church history at the Nile Theological College in Khartoum, Sudan, and at the Faculté de Théologie Protestante de Butare in Rwanda. While in Sudan he wrote a collection of short stories in the creative narrative genre, Children of the Sudan: Stories of the Christian Journey in Sudan (1998).

After serving briefly as an interim pastor in Maryland, Michael served as the coordinator for international outreach for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from 2008 to 2012. While working in Louisville, Michael spent many evenings and weekends doing scholarly work related to church history. He completed a translation from French to English of Jacques Blandenier’s The Evangelization of the World: A History of Christian Mission and he wrote a biography, John Winthrop: Founding the City Upon a Hill (2013), of the first governor of Massachusetts, who led the Puritan migration from England to North America in 1630.

Michael grew up in the Los Angeles area. He graduated from UCLA with a double major in political science and history. He then attended Fuller Theological Seminary, obtaining his M.Div. degree with a concentration in international service. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, his doctorate being in American cultural and religious history. His dissertation, The Kingdom of Character: The Student Volunteer Movement, 1886-1926, was published in 1998 and republished in a revised form in 2008.

While Michael has learned much about cross-cultural ministry through scholarly inquiry, his knowledge of this field has also been informed by his own experience. While serving abroad he has found John 7:17 to be particularly meaningful. The verse is Jesus’ response to religious leaders who questioned his authority. It reads, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”

For Michael the verse teaches that religious truth is confirmed by living it. “In my own life, I know that God has confirmed my faith in his care and provision for me many times over, but never more so than while living abroad and working in God’s service,” Michael says. “It is in those times when I have had the least control over events that I have felt those ‘everlasting arms’ holding me up.”