By Cathy Norman Peterson
DETROIT (June 29, 2013) – Each week Anna Carney Parks prepares to host a Bible study. But this is no small undertaking, as every Friday night 30-40 people from Church of the Redeemer in Los Angeles arrive at her home, where she hosts two Bible studies (one for women and one for men), a ministry for children ages 6 to 15, and child care for young children. Every inch of the Parks home is filled with people.
It’s an example of the hospitality Parks practices throughout her life – and for which she was awarded the T.W. Anderson Award during the 128th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church. The award is given in honor of the only layperson to serve as president of the Covenant.
Parks was a founding member of the team that planted Church of the Redeemer in Los Angeles in 2003, an intentionally multicultural community. In the early days of the congregation, she helped to develop “policies and church life rhythms to ensure our continued growth in being both a multiethnic congregation and reaching out to our community,” wrote the church’s leadership team in its letter of recommendation.
As the church grew, she established a children’s ministry and directed the Christian formation program of the church. When a need arose to enhance the church’s cell group ministry, Parks stepped in – and grew the ministry from one group of 15 members, to eight groups that represented 70 percent of the congregation.
Her work extends beyond the congregation to her community. She started a cell group for single mothers, serves on boards, and works with community organizers in South Los Angeles, where she and her husband live with their three children. She writes grants and started a tutoring program, where she tutors children she meets in the neighborhood or a single mother who is returning to college.
She and her husband, Richard, founded a neighborhood block club, which works with community leaders, law enforcement, and local government officials to address public safety needs.
“Anna’s servanthood and hospitality are definitely ways that she lives out Jesus’ call to take up her cross,” one friend wrote. “But what is most striking to me is how Anna really has laid down her life for the families in our neighborhood.”