Elm Street section likely to bear name of local reverend

Soon a stretch of Elm Street may bear the name of the Rev. Jacob Parker, who has pastored Ebenezer Baptist Church there for half a century.

Two members of Macon City Council held a brief public hearing Monday on renaming the location “Reverend Jacob Parker Boulevard.”

Councilman Charles Jones, a member of Ebenezer Baptist, presided with Councilman Frank Tompkins sitting beside him. Jones, sponsor of the renaming, said he and Tompkins were there in place of Councilmen Tom Ellington and Larry Schlesinger, who represent Ward 3 in which Ebenezer Baptist sits. Jones and Tompkins both represent Ward 4.

As is usual for public hearings, the council chamber was almost empty. Jones pointed out the only member of the general public in attendance -- his own wife, Valencia.

Valencia Jones said Parker is a pillar of the community who has helped many and deserves the honor.

“I’ve always felt that we should give people flowers while they live,” she said. “If they’re here to enjoy it, why wait until they’re gone? Give them time to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

Valencia Jones said she has visited Ebenezer Baptist several times, while her husband is a member. Charles Jones is himself pastor of Greater Rising Star Full Gospel Tabernacle,

“We call him ‘Dad.’ He’s just a father figure,” Valencia Jones said of Parker.

Ebenezer Baptist Church sits at 777 Elm St., on the corner of Telfair Street. The current proposal is to rename two full blocks of Elm, from Telfair to Martin Luther King Boulevard, for Parker.

Charles Jones said all 15 council members and Mayor Robert Reichert have signed onto the name change, a rare moment of unanimity so final approval is virtually assured. Parker, now 85, has been at the same post longer than any other pastor in the area, Charles Jones said.

After a few minutes in “wait mode,” he closed the hearing. Jacob Parker’s daughter Barbara Parker, an assistant U.S. attorney, arrived shortly afterward and tried to call her father from the council chamber. She and others have tried to keep the honor a secret from him until it was almost a “done deal,” she said. Barbara Parker said the gesture will be a wonderful legacy for him, a tribute to the many lives he has touched.

“I’m honored, I am delighted that this street will be renamed after my father,” she said. “We’re deeply proud of him.”

To contact writer Jim Gaines call 744-4489.