The community has felt yet another loss with the recent passing of Rev. Stephen “Steve” Parks, 74, of Stony Point, who died September 27, 2022, at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
A larger than life figure, he was known for his booming voice and kind manner. According to obituary information, Steve was a US Army veteran and a member of Mt. Hebron Baptist Church. He pastored Pleasant View Baptist Church for 11 years in Mt. Airy, Sulphur Springs Baptist Church for 22 years in Hiddenite, and Mt. Hebron Baptist Church for five years in Taylorsville. He loved singing for the Lord with his family and with the group 4 His Glory. He was an avid Tar Heel fan and loved meeting with his coffee buddies every morning. He also enjoyed doing yard work, wood working in his shop, and playing Yahtzee.
Due to his penchant for passing out gum to children, he was known as “The Bubble Gum Preacher.”
Many remembrances of Rev. Parks have been told in the past week by those who knew him.
Pastor Mitch King stated, “Pastor Steve Parks was a humble servant of God who loved life and loved being with others. God used Pastor Steve to grow the Church in size over his 22 years of ministry at Sulphur Springs.
“Even at the height of his influence, Steve just considered that he was a simple country pastor and he never pretended to be more than that. During one period of growth, many of the new members were active in the field of education and he joked about being nervous because they would correct his grammar. He was more concerned about being genuine than coming across polished in his presentation.
“I cannot remember how many times in 13 years he commented upon how surprised he remained that God chose to call him as a pastor. His humility was not for show and it made an impression on those who knew him.
“He liked planning special events and fellowship times at the church, and would often plan them on the spot. Many times he decided to have an ice cream supper at the evening service and he informed the congregation of his plans at the end of the Sunday morning service (which only gave them about five hours to get organized),” Rev. King stated.
“He was always in the middle of a gathering, never at the fringes, but he wasn’t pushy or obnoxious. When Pastor Steve was in the crowd, you needed to keep a lookout for him. If some of the ladies got too focused on their conversation, he would suddenly appear behind them, right at their ear and would loudly say, ‘What are you talking about?’ He had a deep, loud voice and I watched him startle dozens of women over the years, some would actually jump!
“Many stories and memories of Pastor Steve were shared at his funeral this past Sunday (Oct. 2), and I was honored to be involved in his service. I told a few stories myself and could write about many more, but his life was more than a collection of stories. He was a man who loved God, was faithful to his family, and served three congregations as their under-shepherd for almost 40 years! He was not a perfect man; he would quickly admit that. Countless times I heard him share with the Church how he was a just a sinner saved by Grace – he understood his need for a Savior, and he received that Grace when it was offered. As a result of receiving that Grace, he was able to positively influence many for the Kingdom.
“I appreciate that reality because he had a positive impact on me and my family. He was my pastor and he was bigger than life to me. I love the man and his family, and I already miss him,” Rev. King concluded.
Pastor Bradley Anderson, during Steve’s funeral, said, “Pastor Steve made the room lighter whenever he walked into it…He finished well, truly, in every sense of the word. And that’s a challenge and a blessing and an encouragement to someone like me… He came back here and talked to me like I was a most seasoned minister…and I appreciate that so very much. I thank God for the influence that he leaves behind.”
“Pastor Steve has been a great encouragement to myself, as a young preacher,” said Rev. James Safrit during the funeral. He related the passage from John 13 which states, “(34) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
“When I sat with him at breakfast, he said, ‘James, love everyone that you can. I don’t care how hard you preach, how deep you preach, how mean you get in the pulpit — love everyone you can.’ As a young preacher, that meant so much to me,” Rev. Safrit said. “I think that would be a testimony for all of us, that he did love us, he cared about our well-being.”
Rev. Robert Gragg said, “I learned very well from Steve Parks the things not to say from behind the pulpit, to embarass your wife or irritate your wife. Steve was always up for a good laugh, and it was usually at your own expense. But what Steve taught me the most, what he showed me the most, what he showed all of us the most, was what Paul said to his young protege in 1 Timothy 6, “But you, O man of God, flee these [evil and wicked] things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (12) Fight the good fight of faith, take hold on eternal life, to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
“If there was ever any example of a Godly man that you wanted to follow, it was Steve. He pursued Christ. He loved God. He loved the Church that Jesus Christ died for. Steve was a man, somebody you could count on when you went to him and asked him to be praying…He loved talking to people and believed the best way to share the Gospel was to build relationships and walk side by side with people, during the good and the bad. He loved getting to know people. Brother Steve, he loved life. And even over the last hard and difficult year, Steve was still fighting to honor and glorify the name of Jesus Christ and still fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ in the position that Jesus Christ placed him in…Why did Steve do that? Because Steve knew, and now Steve sees, that Jesus Christ is worth it all.”
Video footage of the funeral of Rev. Steve Parks is on YouTube: https://youtu.be/G8b3daj07tc.