Not too far from the downtown skyscrapers of Dallas, Texas, Golden Gate Missionary Baptist Church sits in the modest Oak Cliff community known as “The Bottom.” Why the name? For many years the church has lived at the bottom of a floodplain of the Trinity River.
All kinds of stories still exist today about Golden Gate’s commitment to its community and how the church leaders refused to move the church to higher ground even before the city built a levee. And still today, much of its ministry continues to live on in the legacy of the old church.
In 2013, Dallas city officials, dignitaries, friends, and residents gathered to dedicate the renaming of the street the church sits on to honor one of its former pastors, Reverend Clarence Booker T. Smith. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson wrote, “Rev. Smith was best known for his remarkable energy, unyielding devotion to the faith, and his humility and love toward his neighbors.”
This type of unwavering commitment did not change when Rev. Smith retired in 1997. With open arms, the church received Vincent Parker and his family into their community where they have continued to stay on the path toward reaching people with the gospel.
Vincent, a Washington, D.C., native, accepted Christ as his personal Savior at the age of seven. He graduated from high school and went to Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. In 1988, Vincent married Janice. He decided to study at DTS and received his master of theology in 1995. He has traveled and served abroad in Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Israel, and Italy and has served as pastor of Golden Gate for the past sixteen years. He and Janice have three children.
Close friend Kevin Hawkins (ThM, 2003; DMin, 2017) wrote, “Pastor Vincent Parker is a committed husband, father, pastor, and friend. He loves and cherishes his family, and this is demonstrated in his devotion to them.” Vincent spends time with each of his children and holds regular devotions with them. The testament to his commitment to them has yielded fruit. His adult children still actively engage in ministry.
Prayer partner Terrence Autry (ThM, 1994) describes Vincent as “a man of the utmost character who lives to exemplify a morally pleasing and upstanding life before God and people.”
In nominating Vincent, Terrence wrote the following: “Pastor Parker is a worthy candidate for this award. He is a man of God who loves his family, church, and community. He pastors his church with compassion, grace, and truth, and walks with his people. He engages with his congregants regularly, and they love him dearly.”
Stephen Brown (ThM, 2005), who met Vincent as he entered DTS twenty-two years ago, describes Vincent as a “patient, sacrificial pastor, who leads his congregation with grace and truth. With God’s guidance, he has led Golden Gate to heights they’ve never known.” Stephen has known Vincent since 1995. “He is the best that DTS stands for [and teaches]. His story of training, mentoring, and pastoring is what I look for in a man that I can trust and follow.”
As a pastor, Vincent stays available as a confidant and mentor to other pastors. He regularly engages with other ministers who solicit counsel from him, and he often opens up about himself in conversation and demonstrates his transparency. Stephen wrote, “When I met him he was kind and took time to answer questions about ministry and seminary life. Vincent and I are friends. As pastors who serve similar congregations, we share knowledge, solicit wisdom, and fellowship together with churches and with each other.”
His Leadership Role
Ministry at Golden Gate has its challenges when one considers its location. The area, once a thriving community for African Americans, has changed considerably economically. Terrence wrote, “Vincent Parker has sought to do what most pastors will not do. He has gone into the heart of an impoverished community to share the gospel and build a Christ-loving ministry. Pastor Parker sees potential in The Bottom and has sought to make a difference. He is currently working on a partnership project with the City of Dallas to build brand new homes and wants to reopen and refurbish an elementary school that has long since closed in The Bottom.”
Vincent also stays actively involved in racial reconciliation with churches across ethnic lines, bridging relationships between white and black churches. He also leads recovery ministries called ARM (Adult Recovery Ministry) and WARM (Women’s Adult Recovery Ministry). Housed at The Gate House, which serves as a place of refuge, these ministries exist for those who find themselves in the midst of recovery, whether from drugs or alcohol, or transitioning from prison back to society. Terrence explains, “He also [leads] The Gate House, an in-house ministry that ministers to both men and women. I have had some people from my church benefit from it. I have witnessed this ministry firsthand in how it changes the hearts and lives of men through the gospel and Scripture teaching.”
When Vincent first started serving as pastor at Golden Gate, the church considered itself traditional. Under Vincent’s leadership, the church transitioned to a successful blended ministry that has done a great job in reaching the younger generation. Terrence adds, “Transitioning his church to minister to [a younger congregation] has been a blessing. He has done a great job including them in the life and ministry of the church. He also has helped deepen the church’s efforts in outreach and service.”
Vincent includes others in the life and ministry of the church. He leads them along with the entire church in fulfilling the Great Commission through other forms of evangelism and outreach.
Vincent advises, “Developing personal relationships based on truth, honest sharing and listening can eventually broaden into conversations about larger issues. In these personal friendships and relationships trust is built so [people] can listen and know that [they] will still be accepted and respected. Relationship building takes time! So stay patient and speak the truth.”
About the Award
All nominations for the Alumni Distinguished Service Award come solely from fellow DTS graduates. Nominees are prayerfully considered in light of 1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9; Ephesians 5:1–33; Galatians 5:22–23; and Romans 12:1–21.
For more information or to nominate a fellow DTS graduate, visit the Alumni Distinguished Service Award page.
Editor’s note: Read more from staff writer Raquel Wroten (MAMC, 2012).