MACON, GA — Funeral services were held on Saturday for a Georgia pastor who shot himself in the driveway of his home on November 10th as his family and congregation awaited his arrival to lead Sunday services.
Teddy Parker, 41, was the senior pastor of the 800-member Bibb Mount Zion Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia and was well-loved by his congregation. According to reports, although he preached about life’s storms, none of his congregation knew of his personal struggles with depression—only a few close friends.
“He was suffering with manic depression and he had some emotional issues that he had been dealing with,” personal friend Dr. E. Dewey Smith Jr. of the House of Hope Atlanta told reporters. “[He was] in treatment, but he just couldn’t step away from ministry.”
“You know a lot of times, we feel like when we are going through stuff and it’s a lot that there’s nobody there with us,” Parker once stated during a message entitled Facing Your Storm With Confidence. “I know y’all been saved a long time. I know you super spiritual and you know you real holy, but there are times in your life—not y’all, but me—there are times in my life when I’m going through some stuff where I can’t feel God there.”
“I try to pray but I don’t feel like God is hearing me. I try to serve but I don’t feel like God is using me,” he said. “And there are times in your life when God purposely withdraws from you. He doesn’t withdraw for the sake of leaving you but he withdraws so you can grow and mature.”
But members of Parker’s congregation never expected that their pastor would commit suicide.
“He was loving. You could feel his love,” Deacon Shawn Stafford said at the pastor’s funeral service on Saturday. “It wasn’t just an ‘I love you.’ He was a loving man. He didn’t have a selfish bone in his body. … He would give you anything and everything. … He would do without.”
Stafford also told reporters prior to the service that Parker had talked a young man out of committing suicide just two and a half months ago. He said that Parker called the young man every day for nearly a month to see how he was doing.
However, when Parker failed to arrive at church the Sunday before last, his wife Larrinecia returned home to find him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Houston County Coroner Danny Galpin.
Smith told those gathered for Parker’s funeral that pastors need encouragement just as much as anyone, and said that sometimes they’re not always transparent about their struggles.
“As a church member, either you’re an armor bearer or a pall bearer—helping your pastor get to his destiny or carrying him slowly to his death,” he stated. “Pastors need someone to come alongside them and hold up their arms and ask, ‘How can I help?'”
Parker leaves behind two daughters, Kamry Tednae and Kerrington Tyier Parker. Funeral services were broadcast live over the internet.