In memory of Joyce Parker

25 Sept 1941 - 20 Jan 2000 - photo taken on her 58th birthday

On Jan 20, 2000 my dear wife Joyce died from multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow) after an illness of six months at the age of 58 years and 4 months, and three weeks short of our 36th wedding anniversary. The funeral service, a tribute to her faith and her Lord, was held at Taringa Baptist Church, Brisbane on Jan 24. She is terribly missed by David and her children Christine (with husband Greg) of Melbourne and Martin of Brisbane (more details below).

A Tribute to Joyce Parker

(taken from the Order of Service at the Funeral Service)

Joyce - a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ

The reading, parts of which are on the service sheet, is taken from The Message: the New Testament in Contemporary English by Eugene H. Peterson.. The context for this choice is that one evening at the hospital, when Joyce was having a bad spell, Christine asked if she would like to have something read to her. It was Joyce's request that they read Paul's letter to the Philippians in this modern version. As Christine read the letter to her mother, she noted that Joyce, though otherwise so ill that evening, was saying 'Yes!' at various points during the reading. So a selection has been made of parts of that letter for the reading today.

In the context of this letter I would like to give thanks for Joyce's Christian witness. There are lots of personal aspects which I admired in Joyce (her excellent colour sense, for example, and the pleasure of hearing her sing). But for me the thing that stands out is that she was obviously a person in whom God had begun a good work, which He is continuing even now, till the day of Jesus Christ. She manifested the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and I would single out above all else her loving heart - which prompted continuous denial of self in favour of a concern for others, and great generosity of spirit. Joyce was generous, for example, in listening, in giving materially, and in the service of others. I can personally give thanks to God for many acts of fellowship I have received from Joyce over the last few years.

That her life was directed by the Lord Jesus Christ was particularly manifest in the way she faced death. She was ready to die if that was her Lord's will, her only concerns, characteristically, being the necessity of saying good-bye for a while to her beloved family and their welfare throughout her illness and after her death. I felt privileged to meet with Joyce during these last months and can testify to her steadfast trust in her Heavenly Father, which I personally found a great encouragement. She did not weary in doing good or in being concerned for others, though her own circumstances were so difficult.

How do fallible, sinful human beings manage all this ? I think we can assume that this selection of verses from Philippians sums up Joyce's thinking as she faced the ultimate issues of life, and reveals the secret of her cheerful courage. Those who love the Lord will meet again, so we can give thanks for Joyce's witness here and as we read what she believed we can look to the same source for courage on the way.

by Dr Lynn Wales who read the Scripture.


Tribute

Joyce Ethel Parker was born as the only child of Bill and Ethel McVie on 25 Sept 1941. She was lovingly brought up in their Alderley home with close ties to the extended family and a wide circle of friends. She was nurtured in the Christian faith of her parents, supported strongly by the fellowship and activities of the Enoggera Methodist Church and the wider church, especially the Christian Endeavour movement. In her home and church she also experienced a rich musical heritage, a spirit of community service and the broadening horizons of travel.  

After completing her secondary education at Brisbane Girls' Grammar School, Joyce trained at the Kelvin Grove Teachers' College and began her career at Windsor Infants' School. About this time she met a young man, almost exactly her own age, from Stanthorpe, who lived nearby while working in Brisbane. On Feb 8, 1964 she was married to David at the Grange Baptist Church and sensing the call of God together for full-time Christian service, they moved to the Baptist Theological College in Sydney NSW to begin their training; overseas missionary work was foremost in their minds as they studied together. When David continued with advanced studies for ordination, Joyce resumed her teaching work at the Northcote School for Crippled Children where she discovered the joy and satisfaction of this specialised form of work.

As David took up pastoral work, she supported and shared with him as much as possible. She became a full time homemaker when they moved to The Entrance, NSW in 1969 where Christine was born; after a short break back home in Brisbane, they transferred to Murwillumbah in 1971, where Martin was born. She was immensely proud of her children as they grew, and showered them with her love and affection, giving them a positive example of Christian life, character and service.

The family returned to Queensland in 1975. Soon after, David began more studies and Joyce again took up teaching. Late in 1976, she was appointed to the Primary Correspondence School (now Brisbane School of Distance Education) where she again found particular satisfaction in working with the children and families served by this institution. Later she continued her own educational studies and also became qualified in Special Needs Teaching. Her personal qualities and outstanding skills in this field were recognized by the school, her colleagues, and the children and families with whom she worked. In this setting she found wonderful fulfilment over many years as she brought hope and encouragement in her own quiet way to those around her.

As well as her work, and home and family activities, she was a dedicated member of the church, serving in many ways, but especially in recent years as a deacon where her wisdom, sensitivity and quiet care and understanding of others gave her a memorable ministry.

She also took a great deal of interest and shared in David's various ministries, including his pastoral work, with the students of the Bible College when he taught there and more recently in his work with Baptist Heritage locally and through the Baptist World Alliance and his theological work with the World Evangelical Fellowship and in south east Asia. These ministries in particular opened up opportunities for worldwide fellowship which were full of interest and enrichment to Joyce and a great source of strength and comfort in recent days. It was while she and David were overseas in these ministries in mid-1999 that the first signs of her illness appeared.

Joyce was diagnosed with multiple myeloma on her return to Brisbane, and spent the next four months at home facing the onslaught of the disease and its treatment with patience, fortitude and a faith that would not fail. During these weeks her body was ravaged by pain and disease and the rigours of treatment that proved to be ineffective in halting the disease; but her spirit grew as she learned more than ever of God's person and love, and so she became a blessing to those who visited her who say her faith and hope was reflected in her face and eyes.

When she lost physical mobility in mid-November, she was admitted to Royal Brisbane Hospital. As the days passed she began to focus less on her ever weakening body and things of the past, and more on glories of what was awaiting her in the presence of God and his peace and joy. From Christmas time, the whole family had come together and for the last few weeks, Joyce's happy spirit cheered them.

David, Christine and Greg, and Martin express their profound thanks to all who have joined with them today at this memorial and thanksgiving service. Your presence gives us strength and is a tribute to Joyce's life, work and faith.

When no more treatment could be given, she was transferred to the Prince Charles Hospital. Her condition was stable until the last day when it suddenly deteriorated, and in the evening of Jan 20 in the presence of her family she took her leave peacefully for 'that better land.'


Appreciation

As a family we have been so grateful for all the love and support we have received over the last six months. The prayer and concern of so many people was especially real to Joyce and to the family as we walked the unknown pathway, and it helped her do so with such faith and peace that she became a blessing to many. We gladly and thankfully acknowledge the concern and fellowship of Joyce's many friends and colleagues from the Brisbane School of Distance Education, the Taringa Baptist Church and other churches and organizations of which she has been a part, and from the wider circle of people including relatives, family contacts and people from distant places in Australia and around the world. We also wish to thank the medical and especially the nursing staff of the Royal Brisbane Hospital and the Prince Charles Hospital for their expert and sensitive care which often extended far beyond what might have been expected.

We particularly express our thanks to those who have assisted today: our pastor, Rev. Bruce Pringle for conducting the service, and our friend over so many years, Rev. Malcolm Steer for his kind words of tribute, and Lynn Wales who presents the reading - she has shared a close friendship with Joyce that became especially meaningful in recent months. During her illness, Joyce found encouragement in the letter to the Philippians, and its joyful message of trust in Jesus Christ expresses so much of her own faith and experience. We also thank many others who have assisted with preparations and arrangements for today including Kay Bourne for the floral tributes and to Carol Bourne and the others who have assisted with the refreshments.

The hymns also have special meaning. Psalm 23 reflects our confidence as a family in God's loving care at this time in particular. 'Praise my soul' was selected by Joyce to point us in wonder and praise to the great God she has loved and worshipped with such joy and thankfulness throughout her life. The final hymn has been part of Joyce and David's pilgrimage - from the time they were first called into Christian service and at many other significant points in their life and ministry together - as a testimony of their commitment and mission and of God's sure hand on their lives, family and work.

In the spirit of Joyce's lifetime of service for others, the family has decided that financial gifts may be made in lieu of, or in addition to, flowers, to the Australian Baptist World Aid program (ABWAID) including the Support an Orphan (SAO) scheme, which are dedicated to assisting people in developing countries and those in crisis situations. Donations may be made at the church today in the receptacle provided or mailed to ABWAID, Locked Bag 122, Frenchs Forest NSW 1640 (certain gifts are tax deductible - name and address are needed for a receipt. For more information, contact an usher).

Note: Gifts were allocated to a Primary Health Care project in Bangladesh through Abwaid.


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