The life of Charles Stephen Parker will be celebrated at 11am this Saturday in his childhood church, Anointed Word Evangelistic Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Lithonia.
“We know he’s with the Lord,” said Bobby Henderson, pastor of Anointed Word. “It’s just sooner than we expected.”
With 700 active members, Anointed Word is the kind of church where everyone knows and nurtures each other. Everyone knew and loved Charles, who was easy to love, with his light spirit and bright smile, friends said.
Charles, his brother Patrick and his sister Tiffany started attending Anointed Word with their mother when Charles was maybe 13, Henderson said. They were living in the metro Atlanta area.
Charles grew into manhood in the Lord, singing in the choir and attending youth group. When he was older, he taught Sunday School and helped lead the youth ministry, participated in a gospel group and sang duets with his brother.
“He was secure in his faith,” Henderson said. “Charles was a bright, ambitious young man who loved his wife, his family and his friends. He worked in a bank and wanted to get into business for himself.”
When Charles married in 2009 and settled in Monroe, he and his wife moved to a different church, Henderson said, but Patrick Parker has remained at Anointed Word. He’s one of the ministers, a member of the praise and worship team and the choir. He and his wife served as the church’s youth directors as well.
Charles Parker’s mother lives in the Memphis, Tennessee metro area, Henderson said. He has talked with her, and with Parker’s father, who lives in the area, “and they seem to be holding up okay. But it’s kind of hard to get a read on things with a tragedy like this.”
Pastor Henderson is no stranger to family tragedy. Ten years ago, he said, his wife’s nephew was brutally murdered, “so I’ve been down this road before. And it’s difficult, but it can be done.”
Charles Parker was murdered, and in rural Oglethorpe County, according to officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The well is next to an abandoned house in the Sandy Cross part of the county, which borders Clarke County.
Rather than dwell on the gruesome details of Charles Parker's death, Pastor Henderson prefers to talk about the church service on January 15, when Charles gave Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in church. It was something he did annually.