Billy Graham Center

Interviews with Matthew Parker - Collection 413

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Matthew Parker

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in this Collection

Brief Description.
Oral history interview in which Parker describes his childhood, family, education, conversion, study at Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music and work/study at Wheaton College, ministry with Campus Crusade in its sports ministry and with Overseas Crusades sports evangelism ministry (Venture for Victory w/ Bud Schaeffer), the 1984 and 1986 National Summits on Black Church Development, the Atlanta '88 Congress on Evangelizing Black America, the Afro-American community, white evangelical racial attitudes, church planting in the black community and his involvement in numerous other ministry-related activities.
Vol: 5 Reels of Audio Tape

Collection 413
Parker, Matthew (1945- )
Interview; 1989

Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Matthew Parker was born on November 14, 1945 in Cincinnati, Ohio to Matthew and Ruth Parker. When he was a year old, his parents moved to the Black Bottom area of Detroit, Michigan, where his father then worked in the auto industry. When Parker was two his mother died, leaving his father to raise him and his younger brother.

Parker's education began in Detroit's public school system. Unable to gain admission to a state university, Parker entered a junior college in Grand Rapids, where he was heavily involved in cross country and track. While a student there, he was arrested for theft, after which he returned to Detroit where he lived with his father and later his uncle, and worked for Chrysler Corporation on an automobile assembly line. In 1966, he entered Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music (GRSBM, pronounced grizboom), and while a student there committed his life to Christ. When he entered GRSBM, he and one other student were the only African Americans attending the school. His experience at GRSBM awakened him to the racial attitudes of white evangelicals he characterized as "racism," which he would later experience in various other predominantly white evangelical organizationsas well. Parker graduated from GRSBM in 1970 with a diploma in General Bible.

During his senior year at GRSBM, Parker was recruited by OC Ministries' basketball ministry, Venture for Victory, and joined the team during the summers of 1971 (Central and South America), 1972 (Indonesia) and 1973 (Africa: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe). He credited his trip to Africa with making a significant contribution to his personal development by making him aware of his racial legacy. In 1971, having completed his Bible school education at GRSBM, Parker joined the staff of Campus Crusade, participating in its sports ministry, Atheletes in Action, and in developing a campus ministry among blacks during 1971 and 1972.

Parker studied at North Park College between during the 1972-1973 school year. In 1973, Parker was approached by administrators of Wheaton College to work as the school's first Minority Student Advisor. During that time he also enrolled as a part-time student, graduating in 1977 with a BA, majoring in sociology. His contributions as Minority Student Advisor until 1978 included developing community resources for students, contacts for summer mission opportunities for minority students, and SOUL, the Student Organization for Urban Leadership. In coordinating these and other projects, Parker developed his administrative skills, drawing on the expertise of college administrators and staff.

Between 1979 and 1981, Parker was the administrator of the J. Allen Caldwell Private Schools. In 1981, he joined the staff at William Tyndale College in suburban Detroit, where he taught and established and directed the Urban Ministry Program. Among the changes Parker initiated were evening courses meeting in community churches in Detroit, discontinuing the inaccessibility of the education to center-city black students. As the program flourished, Parker was appointed the Associate Vice President of Urban Academic Affairs at the college in 1985, which he continued until 1988. In addition to the urban studies major, three institutes were also created: Institute for Urban Youth Ministry, Institute for Hispanic Studies, and the Institute for Muslim Studies. Parker also observed that black graduates of Bible college were overlooked by white evangelical organizations as viable candidates for the positions for which they had trained. As a result, the Center for Black Church Development, launched after the 1984 National Summit for Black Church Development, was established. The Center, which employed black graduates of William Tyndale College's Urban Studies Program, thus utilized and further developed the skills of its staff.

Between 1978 and 1988, Parker was involved in a number of other projects. During the summers of 1978 and 1979, Parker directed the summer program of Detroit Afro- American Mission. He played an instrumental role in founding the Great Commission Community Church, later named Hamilton Missionary Baptist Church. The church began when a suburban white church discontinued its Sunday school busing ministry in center city Detroit; the suburban church provided the funding for Detroit Afro American Mission to begin a church planting project. Parker initially acted as a consultant on the project, which moved from a vacation Bible school to a Sunday school to a Sunday morning service to hiring a pastor. Parker assumed interim pastoral responsibilities in the congregation when the first pastor was dismissed. In 1984, he planned and directed the National Summit on Black Church Development; a second summit was held in 1986 and a third in 1990. In 1986, he started and led a Bible study outreach to blacks in Detroit's suburb of Southfield; the program continued until 1988, when it dissolved with the members becoming involved in local congregations.

Beginning in 1985, specifically in response to the exclusion of African Americans from the agenda of the 1985 National Conference on Evangelizing Ethnic America, Parker and others planned Atlanta '88, the Congress on Evangelizing Black America. Parker was appointed to be the Congress chairman. The congress was noted for its gathering of African American Christians from diverse backgrounds. At the close of the congress, the steering committee dissolved the congress corporation, despite calls for it to continue on in some capacity. In response to the Atlanta '88, Parker was involved in the formation of the Institute of Evangelism at Bryan College. The program, which was accredited through the college for credit, sought to provide practical experience and training in evangelism for blacks and other minorities, as well as developing model programs for church development and leadership training which could be replicated around the country.

In 1986, Parker was introduced by John Perkins to a group of church leaders who went on to form the Religious Alliance Against Pornography. Parker joined them as a member of the Executive Committee. The Alliance, which particularly targeted child pornography and hard core pornography, included in its activities briefings by several federal agencies in Washington, DC, and a meeting with President Ronald Reagan. Parker was particularly influential in gaining support for greater representation of minorities and women in the Alliance's Executive and Steering Committees. In early 1992, Parker and other members of the Alliance met with Vatican representatives to begin planning for an international conference in 1994.

In response to the Bill Moyers 1986 program, "The Vanishing Black Family: A Crisis in Black America," the Institute for Black Family Development was formed in 1987. Parker played a key role in the founding of the Institute, which was designed to be a national Christian consulting agency to provide leadership training for pastors, their wives and youth leaders. Assistance for the Institute was provided by Prison Fellowship, Focus on the Family and World Vision. Parker was the Institute's first president, a post he continued to hold at the close of 1991.

Parker's diverse involvements included serving as a consultant to a variety of ministries and projects, ranging from Mendenhall Ministries and Oakdale Tabernacle Church to Christianity Today, Detroit Youth for Christ, and World Vision. He has applied his administrative skills to business in the production of a film, The Black American Family: A Christian Legacy, and publication of a book, Black Church Development. He had his own publishing company for a period of time.

Parker earned an MA in Education Administration from the University of Detroit in 1987. Parker's skills and contributions were recognized through the following awards: Achievement Award and Minority Student Award from Wheaton College in 1974; Outstanding Young Men of America in 1980 and again in 1981; Who's Who Amongst Black Americans in 1986; Missions Leadership Award from Destiny '87 conference in 1987; Urban Leadership Development citation from American Biographical Institute in 1987; Men of Achievement citation from International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, England in 1988; Leadership Award (for Atlanta '88) from National Black Evangelical Association in 1988.

Parker married his wife Karon in 1980. They had a son, Matthew Lloyd Jr., a daughter, Tiffany, and a second son, Michael James.

Scope and Content

Matthew Parker was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on April 13 and 14, 1989 at the Archives office in Wheaton, Illinois. The dates of the events covered by the interview were 1945 to 1989. The boldfaced entries are intended to highlight the topics covered in the interview. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and no to the reel-to-reel original.

#T1 - Side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:15 Introduction to interview on April 13, 1989
00:45 Childhood, being raised by his father, religious legacy of his mother's family
05:15 Life in Detroit's Black Bottom area: black migration to the north, education
06:00 Parents: description of and relationship with his father, description of his mother and similarities with her
11:45 Detroit's public schools, quality of education, aspiring to attend college
15:00 Relationship with whites: broader exposure through positive relationship with and example of white music teacher; awareness of and feelings about segregation, racism and impact on self-esteem; spiritual implications
25:30 Process of his conversion: inability to enter college, lack of self-discipline, arrest, drifting, attending and hearing Gospel at GRSBM
30:00 Racism: at GRSBM, as sin, white misinterpretation of black response
36:15 Wheaton College: predominance of visiting white evangelical leaders, racism as learned behavior, experiences as Minority Affairs director, outreach programs for minority students to build self-esteem
44:15 End of Side 1

#T1 - Side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape and overlap from Side 1
01:00 Continuation on Wheaton College: enlistment as minority students advisor, creating leadership development opportunities for minority students
05:00 Conflict between academic demands and job responsibilities, comparison between 1970's and 1989
10:00 Establishing influence through the Minority Student Affairs Committee, coordinating summer mission projects for minority students
16:30 Evaluation of experience at Wheaton: learned administrative skills by seeking out expertise, understanding the value of the body of Christ
21:15 End of tape

#T2 - Side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:15 Joining Campus Crusade and its Athletes in Action sports ministry
03:15 Wheaton College: initial contact, observations about racial attitudes
07:30 Campus Crusade: need for new strategy in reaching black students, racial attitudes, encountering racism while touring with Venture for Victory
15:00 Differences between white Evangelical culture in Campus Crusade and among blacks, departure from Campus Crusade
19:00 End of tape

#T3 - Side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:30 Venture for Victory: recruiting by Bud Schaeffer, program history, traveling opportunities, impact on understanding of missions
06:15 Significant events during African tour
12:15 Personal impact of trip to Africa: changes, self-discovery, confidence, awakened to racial legacy, black capability reflected in Reconstruction
22:00 White Christians' discomfort with black prominence/leadership, Atlanta '88 a response to Houston'85
32:45 Bud Schaeffer: lessons for outreach, character
36:00 Fund raising: philosophy, techniques, communication skills, comparing between approaches to white and black churches
41:00 Influence of spiritual parents (Barbara Walton and Lloyd Blue)
43:30 End of Side 1

#T3 - Side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape and overlap from Side 1
00:45 Continuation on influence of spiritual parents
03:15 1984 and 1986 National Summits of Black Church Development: origins, forming Center for Black Church Development, agendas, other results
12:15 Exclusion of blacks from Houston '85: reasons, planning Atlanta '88, interaction with Lausanne Committee
21:00 End of tape

#T4 - Side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:30 Introduction to interview on April 14, 1989
00:45 Atlanta '88: relationship with Destiny '87
04:00 Support, encouragement, momentum
08:45 Surprises, achievements
12:45 Steering committee membership, use of media in promotion
18:30 Challenges: scheduling, satisfying everyone, coordinating details, maintaining diversity, delegating responsibilities
25:30 Difficulty of dissolving steering committee, press coverage
29:15 Impact after the conference, conference highlights, white participation
38:15 Diversity of black church, white church's lack of awareness of diversity
41:00 Detroit's Great Commission Community Church: parent church's discontinuation of Sunday school busing ministry, Parker's role in developing new church, use of his gifts
45:45 End of Side 1

#T4 - Side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape and overlap from Side 1
01:15 Great Commission Community Church: developing understanding of pastor's responsibility, relationship with suburban church, role of brutal honesty, church discipline, false teaching, lessons
12:45 Bible study outreach in suburban Detroit's Southfield
14:00 Institute for Evangelism at Bryan College, relationship to Institute for Black Family Development
18:45 William Tyndale College: development of Urban Ministries department
21:15 End of tape

#T5 - Side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:30 Continuation on Urban Ministries program, lack of opportunities for black Bible college graduates
03:15 Religious Alliance Against Pornography: introduced by John Perkins, formation, executive committee, Parker's initiative to broaden ethnic membership on Executive and Steering Committees, briefings in Washington DC with federal agencies and President Reagan
11:15 Developing an awareness of his spiritual gifts, confirmation from others, ability to bring together the black church leaders
18:30 Christians' lack of fear of God, superficial divisions, and idolatry
22:00 His future with and of the Institute for Black Family Development
24:00 Strain of ministry on family life; benefits of work delegation
29:45 End of tape and interview


The materials for this collection were received by the Center in April 1989 from Matthew Parker.

Acc.#: 89-33
February 12, 1992
Paul A. Ericksen
C. Easley

Accession: 89-33
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 65 minutes. One side only. Interview with Matthew Parker by Paul Ericksen recorded on April 13, 1989. Topics discussed include his childhood in Detroit, family, education, relationships with whites, his conversion, education at Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music, racism among white evangelicals and working at Wheaton College as Minority Student Advisor.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 20 minutes. One side only. Continuation of interview with Matthew Parker by Paul Ericksen recorded on April 13, 1989. Topics discussed include his work with Campus Crusade for Christ's sports ministry, Atheletes in Action, and his work at Wheaton College.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 65 minutes. One side only. Continuation of interview with Matthew Parker by Paul Ericksen recorded on April 13, 1989. Topics discussed include OC Ministries' Venture for Victory basketball ministry, Bud Schaeffer, the personal impact of his visit to Africa, planning and carrying out Atlanta '88, fund raising, the 1984 and 1986 National Summits on Black Church Development, and the influence of his spiritual parents, Barbara Walton and Rev. Lloyd Blue.

T4 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 65 minutes. One side only. Continuation of interview with Matthew Parker by Paul Ericksen recorded on April 13, 1989. Topics discussed include Atlanta '88, the Great Commission Community Church, developing an awareness of his spiritual gifts, the Southfield Bible study project, the Institute of Evangelism at Bryan College and the Urban Ministries Program at William Tyndale College.

T5 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 30 minutes. One side only. Continuation of interview with Matthew Parker by Paul Ericksen recorded on April 13, 1989. Topics discussed include the Urban Ministries Program, the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, spiritual gifts, and the relationship between ministry and family life.

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Expiration: indefinite