Irvina Parker has announced her retirement after 18 years as the director of IPHC Girls’ Ministries and 45 years of continuous ministry at the Global Ministries Center in various part-time and full-time positions.
Irvina began her employment for the IPHC as a college student in 1974 when the headquarters made its transition to Oklahoma City. She graduated with an Associate of Arts degree from Emmanuel College and then came to Bethany Nazarene College to get her bachelor’s degree. Irvina vividly remembers her first interview with Lila Isaac, who served as the director of Women’s Ministries (aka Woman’s Auxiliary). “The building was being renovated, and I literally “walked the plank” across construction piles to get to that first interview,” she recalls. “Mrs. Isaac became a mentor and close friend. She was an advocate for education and was delighted that I was working on my degree in Elementary Education (with a concentration in English).” Irvina was privileged to begin working with Beulah Sturkie, who had just been designated as the first Girls’ Ministries director on a part-time basis. Together, they created the packets for GM leaders, and that planted a love for ministry to girls.
During the summers, while continuing her degree, Irvina also worked part-time for Advocate Press as an assistant in the Editorial Department. When she graduated in 1976, Irvina took a full-time job in World Missions, where she worked for Ron Moore doing missionary payroll, among other duties. After General Conference in 1977, she became the executive secretary to B. E. Underwood, the newly elected World Missions director. In addition to her secretarial duties, Irvina began taking on more of the graphic designing and editing for World Missions and created multi-projector slide shows for promoting missions at General Conference. She continued in that role until 1981 when she literally went from work to the hospital to give birth to their first child.
Irvina’s plan was to quit work and become a full-time stay-at-home mom but was convinced to accept an alternate plan that allowed her to continue doing the graphic design and promotional part of her job from home and turning over her other duties to someone else. While she remained in that part-time role for the next 20 years, Irvina poured herself into Women’s and Girls’ Ministries at the local level and for the Oklahoma Conference (now Heartland). She served eight years as the WM Secretary-Treasurer (1987- 1994), and then as the conference director of Girls’ Ministries planning girls’ retreats and day camps for several years. She helped to rework and add to some of IPHC GEMS curriculum and continued in conference leadership until her current appointment.
In 2001, Irvina was asked to become the full-time director for Girls’ Ministries and has continued in that position for 18 years. That role has spanned two decades and has resulted in relationships and friendships that she holds dear to her heart. In 2007, Irvina and her leadership team founded Power Chicks as the quadrennial national girls’ event for the IPHC. Another highlight for Irvina is taking Girls’ Ministries training to several countries, including Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Kenya, and Malawi. In 2019, the fourth Power Chicks was held with an attendance of 500 girls and leaders. Each Power Chicks has promoted a missions project and held a lively auction to support that project. Churches also brought an offering, and each time Power Chicks raised close to $5,000 for the designated project. They broke the record this year when $5,600 was raised for girls’ conferences in Africa in 2020. It was at Power Chicks ’19, held in late July, that Irvina chose to announce her retirement among many friends and co-laborers.
“Irvina has been the model of faithfulness and consistency to our church,” stated Tommy McGhee, Executive Director of Discipleship Ministries. “She is going to be missed in Discipleship, as well as the Global Ministry Center.”
Irvina is married to David Parker, and they reside in Yukon, Oklahoma, close to their family. Their children, Ryan, married to Jessica, and Jennifer, married to Shane, have given them three beautiful grandchildren: Aubrey and Tristan Parker and Jasper Terry. They have also taken on the cherished role of Nana and Papi to Irvina’s late sister’s twin granddaughters, Sophia and Grace. If you wonder what you will find Irvina doing after retirement, it will either be doing things with the grandchildren, reviving some of her creative hobbies, or continuing her work with Hope4Sudan.
We pray that the Lord will continue to bless Irvina during this new season!