Emerita Professor of Theology
Rebecca Parker served as President of Starr King School for 25 years from 1989 to June of 2014.
Parker is an ordained United Methodist minister in dual fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association. Before assuming leadership of Starr King School in 1990, she spent 10 years as a parish minister in the Pacific Northwest and taught at the Northwest Theological Union in Seattle.
As Starr King’s Professor of Theology, Parker lectures widely on behalf of Unitarian Universalists. At Starr King, she teaches the foundational course in thea/ology in culture and context, and convenes advanced seminars in topics such as violence and redemption, process theology, liberal theologies, and religion and education.
Her doctoral studies focused on Alfred North Whitehead’s theory of consciousness as a basis for a spirituality that integrates aesthetics and social engagement. Her theological work, sermons and poetry have been published in academic journals, essay collections and anthologies, and frequently appear in the UU World, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s monthly magazine.
In May of 2010, Parker and co-author John Beuhrens published “A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century” (Beacon Press) about which Publisher’s Weekly said ““This accessible, engaging book may inspire religious progressives to claim their proud history and vital role in contemporary theological conversation. ”
Listen to Rebecca Parker interviewed on Illini Public Radio, with A House for Hope co-author John Buehrens:
In 2008, she and co-author Rita Nakashima Brock published “Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire” (Beacon Press) which offers a fascinating new lens on the history of Christianity, from its first centuries to the present day, asking how its early vision of beauty evolved into a vision of torture, and what changes in society and theology marked that evolution.
In 2001, Dr. Parker, with co-author Rita Nakashima Brock published “Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us,” (Beacon Press), a feminist critique of the Christian doctrine of the atonement, using memoir as a mode of theological reflection. Her current research interests include the gospel of John, the interpretation of the death of Jesus in early Christian art and ritual, and theologies of non-violent resistance to oppression, injustice and war. Her book of collected essays, “Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now,” edited by the Rev. Rob Hardies, SKSM grad and senior minister of All Souls Unitarian, Church in Washington, D.C., was released by Skinner House Books in spring 2006.
As a religious activist, Parker has engaged with Central American issues, women’s issues and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender concerns. She serves on the board of an interfaith think tank focused on progressive religion and politics called “Faith Voices for the Common Good.” Parker is also an accomplished cellist.
Publications by Rebecca Parker
- A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century (Beacon Press)
- Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire (Beacon Press)
- Proverbs of Ashes (Beacon Press)
Listen to Proverbs of Ashes, Dr. Parker’s reading with Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock of excerpts from their 2001 book, “Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us,” published by Beacon Press; and Soul Music Dr. Parker’s sermon from her essay collection, “Blessing the World: What Can Save Us Now,” published by Skinner House Books.
Watch and listen to Dr. Parker’s lecture at Lancaster Theological Seminary, titled “Saving Paradise”, in May 2009.
Read Rebecca Parker’s work.