Joseph Parker
Joseph Parker was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

Nonconformity is the refusal to "conform" to, or follow, the governance and usages of the Church of England by the Protestant Christians of England and Wales.- Origins and use:...


Born in Hexham
Hexham is a market town and civil parish in Northumberland, England, located south of the River Tyne, and was the administrative centre for the Tynedale district from 1974 to 2009. The three major towns in Tynedale were Hexham, Prudhoe and Haltwhistle, although in terms of population, Prudhoe was...

, Northumberland
Northumberland is the northernmost ceremonial county and a unitary district in North East England. For Eurostat purposes Northumberland is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "Northumberland and Tyne and Wear" NUTS 2 region...

, Parker was the son of Teasdale Parker, a stonemason, and Elizabeth (née Dodd). He managed to pick up a fair education, which afterwards he constantly supplemented. In the revolutionary years from 1845 to 1850 young Parker as a local preacher and temperance orator gained a reputation for vigorous utterance. He was influenced by Thomas Cooper
Thomas Cooper (poet)
Thomas Cooper was a poet and one of the leading Chartists. He wrote poetry, notably the 944 stanzas of his prison-rhyme the Purgatory of Suicides , novels and, in later life, religious texts...

, the Chartist
Chartism was a movement for political and social reform in the United Kingdom during the mid-19th century, between 1838 and 1859. It takes its name from the People's Charter of 1838. Chartism was possibly the first mass working class labour movement in the world...

, and Edward Miall
Edward Miall
Edward Miall was an English journalist, apostle of disestablishment, founder of the Liberation Society, and Liberal Party politician.Miall was born at Portsmouth...

, the Liberationist
A liberationist is someone who advocates liberation. It may also refer to:* Liberation theology...

, and was much associated with Joseph Cowen
Joseph Cowen
Joseph Cowen, Jr., , English politician and journalist, son of Sir Joseph Cowen, a prominent citizen and Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne from 1865 to 1873, was born at Stella Hall, Blaydon...

, afterwards MP for Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...


At the time, he was wooing a local girl — Ann Nesbitt, daughter of William Nesbitt, a farmer of Horsley–on–Tyne. He referred to her as "Annie, the soul I loved, the girl that saved me, and made me a man". Horsley was about ten miles from Hexham, and he became acquainted with the Nesbitts through his preaching there, and Mr Nesbitt, a trustee and deacon of Horsley Congregational Church was especially interested in the young preacher, who, on Sunday nights, brought them the news of the town and slept in a "snug little chamber" in the old farmhouse.

Ann and Joseph were married on November 15, 1851 in Hexham Congregational Church, though Joseph was only twenty-one years old, and they had twelve years' happy married life - consisting of six months in Hexham, a year or two in London, five years in Banbury, and five in Manchester - until Ann died in 1863. However, when Hexham Congregational Church was rebuilt, Dr. Parker presented a beautiful stained glass window, bearing the following inscription: "In ever loving memory of Ann Nesbitt, for twelve years the devoted wife of Joseph Parker, Minister of the City Temple, London, this window is reverently and gratefully erected by the man whose life she did so much to mould". The pulpit of grained oak was given at the same time and was inscribed: "In grateful memory of William Nesbitt of Horsley Hills, to whom the Church herein assembling is deeply indebted for long-continued and invaluable service, this pulpit is affectionately erected by his son-in-law Joseph Parker."

In the spring of 1852 he wrote to Dr John Campbell
John Campbell (London clergyman)
Rev. Dr. John Campbell was a Congregationalist divine, and minister at Whitefield's Tabernacle in London. He was only the second successor of its founder, the Methodist, George Whitefield...

, minister of Whitefield Tabernacle, Moorfields
In London, the Moorfields were one of the last pieces of open land in the City of London, near the Moorgate. The fields were divided into three areas, the Moorfields proper, just north of Bethlem Hospital, and inside the City boundaries, and Middle and Upper Moorfields to the north.After the Great...

, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, for advice as to entering the Congregational ministry, and after a short probation he became Campbell's assistant. He also attended lectures in logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

 and philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

. From 1853 to 1858 he was pastor at Banbury
Banbury is a market town and civil parish on the River Cherwell in the Cherwell District of Oxfordshire. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, south of Coventry and north northwest of the county town of Oxford...

. His next charge was at Cavendish Street, Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, where he rapidly made himself felt as a power in English Nonconformity. While here he published a volume of lectures entitled Church Questions, and, anonymously, Ecce Deus (1868), a work provoked by Seeley's
John Robert Seeley
Sir John Robert Seeley, KCMG was an English essayist and historian.-Life:He was born in London, the son of R.B. Seeley, a publisher. Seeley developed a taste for religious and historical subjects...

 Ecce Homo. The University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 conferred on him the degree of D.D.

On 22 December 1864, Parker married Emma Jane, daughter of Andrew Common JP, banker, of Sunderland. In 1869, he returned to London as minister of the Poultry church, founded by Thomas Goodwin
Thomas Goodwin
Thomas Goodwin , known as 'the Elder', was an English Puritan theologian and preacher, and an important leader of religious Independents. He served as chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and was imposed by Parliament as President of Magdalen College, Oxford in 1650...

. Almost at once he began the scheme which resulted in the erection of the great City Temple
City Temple (London)
City Temple Church is a church on Holborn Viaduct in London, most famous as the preaching place of 20th century liberal theologian Leslie Weatherhead.Other notable preachers include Thomas Goodwin and Joseph Parker....

 in Holborn Viaduct
Holborn Viaduct
Holborn Viaduct is a bridge in London and the name of the street which crosses it . It links Holborn, via Holborn Circus, with Newgate Street in the City of London, passing over Farringdon Street and the now subterranean River Fleet.It was built between 1863 and 1869, at a cost of over two million...

. It cost £70,000, and was opened on 19 May 1874. From this centre his influence spread far and wide. His stimulating and original sermons, with their notable leaning towards the use of a racy vernacular, made him one of the best known personalities of his time. Dr Parker was twice chairman of the London Congregational Board and twice of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. The death of his second wife, Emma Jane, née Common, on 26 January 1899, was a blow from which he never fully recovered. She was buried at the Hampstead Cemetery.

Parker was pre-eminently a preacher, and his published works are chiefly sermons and expositions, chief among them being City Temple Sermons (1869–1870) and The People's Bible, in 25 vols (1885–1895). Other volumes include the autobiographical Springdale Abbey (1869), The Inner Life of Christ (1881), Apostolic Life (1884), Tyne Chylde: My Life and Teaching (1883; new ed., 1889), A Preacher's Life (1899).

Parker was commemorated by the Parker Memorial Congregational Church, which opened in November 1907 in Crowborough
The highest point in the town is 242 metres above sea level. This summit is the highest point of the High Weald and second highest point in East Sussex . Its relative height is 159 m, meaning Crowborough qualifies as one of England's Marilyns...

, East Sussex
East Sussex
East Sussex is a county in South East England. It is bordered by the counties of Kent, Surrey and West Sussex, and to the south by the English Channel.-History:...

. The red-brick church, which cost £2,000, is now called the United Church and is used by the town's United Reformed
United Reformed Church
The United Reformed Church is a Christian church in the United Kingdom. It has approximately 68,000 members in 1,500 congregations with some 700 ministers.-Origins and history:...

 and Methodist
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...


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