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SBC DIGEST: Deaths of Helen Parks, wife of former IMB president, and Troy Morrison, former Alabama state executive

Helen Jean Parks, wife of former IMB president, dies

By Mary Jane Welch/IMB

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) – Helen Jean Parks, former missionary and wife of R. Keith Parks, former president of the Foreign (now International) Mission Board, died Sept. 13. She was 93.

R. Keith and Helen Jean Parks served as Southern Baptist missionaries in Indonesia for 14 years before he joined the Foreign Mission Board home office staff. IMB photo

The former Helen Jean Bond, born in Abilene, Texas, and her husband were appointed Southern Baptist missionaries to Indonesia in 1954 and served there until 1968. Her commitment to international missions shaped her service as the couple returned to the United States for Keith to join the home office staff and through his tenure as FMB president from 1980 to 1992.

Jerry Rankin, who succeeded Keith Parks as IMB president and who also served in Indonesia, said he best remembers the couple as mentors and encouragers when Parks served as area director for Southeast Asia.

“Helen Jean was especially outgoing and relational, given to hospitality and showing interest in our family,” he said. “She readily shared spiritual insights and advice out of her own missionary experiences but was not reluctant to voice strong personal opinions relative to mission strategy and policies as well.”

Helen Jean was never in the background, he said, “but was always alongside Keith providing counsel and support in his various leadership roles.”

The Parkses served 14 years in Indonesia. After language study, they did evangelistic work and served on the faculty of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Indonesia in Semarang, Java, where Helen Jean taught music and religious education. She also led the Indonesian seminary choir, worked in small churches training Indonesians as teachers and held conversational English classes with Muslim faculty wives of the Diponegoro State University.

They moved to Richmond in 1968, when Keith joined the home office staff to lead work in Southeast Asia. In 1975 he was named director of the Mission Support Division and in 1979 was named executive director-elect. He became executive director (later changed to president) on Jan. 1, 1980.

Although Helen Jean had to resign as a missionary when her husband joined the home office staff, she never relinquished her missionary calling. She actively promoted missions, interacting with constituents and relating to missionaries from her own experience. Parks received a Bachelor of Arts from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and a Master of Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Hardin-Simmons University in 1987 and was honored by the Logsdon School of Theology in 2007 with the Jesse C. Fletcher Award for Distinguished Service in Missions.

She also authored the book, “Holding the Ropes: Intercessory Prayer for Missions.”

Before her missionary appointment, Parks was a Baptist student worker in Huntsville, Fort Worth and Houston, Texas, and Springfield, Mo. She also was youth and music director at First Baptist Church, Henrietta, Texas, and part-time reporter for the Abilene (Texas) Reporter-News.

Parks is survived by her husband of 69 years; four children: Randall (Nancy), Kent (Erika), Eloise and Stanley (Kay); seven grandchildren; and three great grandchildren.

Retired Alabama executive director Troy L. Morrison dies

By Alabama Baptist staff

PRATVILLE, Ala. (BP) – Troy L. Morrison, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions from 1990 to 1999, died Sept. 12. He was 89.

Morrison took the helm of the convention after serving as its director of church-minister relations for five years. During his time as executive director, he emphasized evangelism, missions and ministries; focused on supporting local churches; nurtured relationships with Baptist associations; and balanced the convention’s budgets to give more to missions, among other things.

“If there have been successes and victories, the credit must be given to God and the fine people of this State Board of Missions and the convention,” Morrison said in late 1997 when he announced his upcoming retirement.

He passed the baton to Rick Lance, current SBOM executive director, at the end of January 1999.

Before serving with the SBOM, Morrison served as pastor of churches in Alabama and Kentucky, including 17 years as pastor of 12th Street Baptist Church in Rainbow City. He graduated from Jacksonville State University in Alabama and earned a doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1957, achieving the rank of first lieutenant.

He served in a variety of other roles in Baptist life, including 12 years as a trustee of Judson College in Marion.

After his retirement, he faced much personal adversity, which he wrote about in his memoir, “A Miracle of God: You Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Set You Free,” published in 2010. Less than a year after he retired, Morrison suffered a stroke, which led to several years of rehabilitation and therapies. In 2007, he and his wife, Frances, lost their only daughter, Marsha, to brain cancer. Two years later, he had a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery. Frances died in 2017.

The couple were longtime members of First Baptist Church Montgomery and 12th Street Baptist Church. Morrison had recently joined Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Gadsden.

After his retirement, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions instated an award in his name, the Troy L. Morrison Award, which is given to three Alabama Baptist pastors each year at the state convention annual meeting – one pastor from a new church work, one from a bivocational work and one from an established work.

Lance said Morrison “always had Alabama Baptist churches on his heart and mind.”

“Dr. Troy Morrison had a lifelong commitment to the cause of Christ,” Lance said. “I appreciate his wise counsel to so many Alabama Baptist ministers and especially to me at the State Board of Missions. He went beyond the call of duty to be supportive of me as his successor.”

Funeral arrangements for Morrison are forthcoming.

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