As a pastor’s son and pastor now of local Baptist churches for twenty years I’m always fascinated by how a pastor operates – especially the pulpit heroes of the past. I can attest, from personal experience, that the call to a new ministry is one of the most heart-wrenching and soul-stirring times in a pastor’s life. That’s why I found Rev. Parker’s acceptance letter to the Cavendish Chapel in Manchester so interesting. There is a lot here that resonates with my spirit and some things that I’ve had to look behind the words to grasp their meaning and Rev. Parker’s intent. Whether you agree with his approach or not, I believe you’ll find this letter intriguing nonetheless. Enjoy!
To the Deacons and Members of the Church assembling in Cavendish Chapel, Manchester :
Before replying to your invitation I deem it right to acquaint you with my views in relation to the ministerial, pastoral, and diaconal offices, so that in the event of our union, no misunderstanding may ever arise.
As a minister I claim the most perfect freedom of action. With regard to my conduct in the pulpit, I must be the sole human arbiter. Under a profound sense of my accountability to the great Head of the Church, I must adopt such modes of appealing to the people as may appear to my own judgment and conscience best adapted to promote the interests of truth. I promise no deference to usages or precedent; what appears to me right I shall do, and what appears to me wrong or insufficient I shall unequivocally reject.
As a minister I must judge for myself what course I shall pursue out of the pulpit. I cannot promise to do as others do. What my labours may be through the press or on the platform, I must determine by circumstances, it being understood that I hold every engagement subordinate to my ministerial responsibilities.
As a pastor I cannot visit for the sake of visiting. At all times I am glad to obey the calls of the sick and the dying, or to guide the truth seeker; but in continuous rounds of so-called pastoral visitations I do not believe, and such I cannot promise. In connection with this point it may be well to mention that I have been advised by a London physician to select a residence outside Manchester, in order to preserve, as far as possible, the health of Mrs. Parker. Under these circumstances domiciliary visitations would involve an immense sacrifice of time.
I believe the office of deacon is purely secular that is, that the deacons business is to “serve tables.” With secular duties the deacons office begins and ends. Believing this to be a scriptural view, I hold it most tenaciously.
As a minister I claim an annual vacation of one clear month; the particular month I determine from year to year. During this vacation the pastor is to provide the supplies, and the church to remunerate them.
Such are my views. I solemnly assure you that with these views alone could I enter upon any scene of labour. I make no great promises. If you are prepared to abide by your invitation now that you know my principles, I shall, with strong trust in the Divine blessing, accept the same, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
25 West Bar Street,
Banbury, Oxon., June 10th, 1858.