Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Lou Ann Parsons
November 28, 1926-May 7,2022
Lou Ann Parsons passed away on May 7th at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California, where she resided for 30 years. She was surrounded by family and friends in the last moments of her wonderful life’s journey.
Lou Ann was born November 28, 1926 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Having grown up there and in Detroit, Lou Ann thrived in summer church camps and in the Pilgrim Fellowship (Congregational Church/UCC). She was a national youth officer of the Pilgrim Fellowship as well as a leader at the local and conference levels. She accepted a call as a candidate for the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a predecessor mission body of Global Ministries.
Lou Ann’s degree from Grinnell College was in Religious Education and Music Education. While at Grinnell, she fell in love with Jack Parsons, who was also preparing for service with the ABCFM. After college graduation and their marriage, they went to Hartford Seminary, where she enrolled but ended up needing to leave to work in churches and in public schools to support Jack’s higher education. After a semester at Kennedy School of Missions they sailed to South Africa in 1954, they learned the Zulu language and entered a long, amazing career in which they both served the Congregational churches in various parts of South Africa.
When the Congregational traditions united across South Africa in 1967, Jack became the Conference Minister for the Eastern Cape. After Jack’s death from cancer in 1987, Lou Ann continued to serve denomination-wide in Christian Education leadership until her retirement.
Jack and Lou Ann dedicated much of their careers in their sustained and courageous anti-apartheid leadership as well as their other community building and justice building missionary accomplishments. Lou Ann worked with the Black Sash Movement which was founded in Johannesburg in 1955. It was a South African human rights organization which was founded as a non-violent organization by white women. Over the years, they protested apartheid in its various forms throughout South African Society. Upon Lou Ann’s return to the USA, she worked in the Africa Office of the United Church Board for World Ministries (UCBWM) / Common Global Ministries Board of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She gave numerous talks and conducted “See, Judge, Act” workshops.
Lou Ann retired in Pilgrim Place in 1992, where she continued to be active in both global and local issues. She had a passion for the developing Person-Centered Care Program in the Health Services Center (HSC). She was instrumental in the chaplain program throughout the HSC and in particular helped to reorganize the HSC into neighborhoods. She worked with the wing of the HSC called the Robin’s Nest for those who were struggling with memory issues. She was a patient advocate for several fellow residents and helped spearhead that service for her fellow Pilgrim Place residents. She served on numerous committees, assumed several positions of leadership and was a docent at the Petterson Museum of Intercultural Art at Pilgrim Place.
Lou Ann was an engaging person for all she met, always interested in others and connected to the most relevant issues. She touched countless lives throughout the world and has left an imprint that expands well beyond her immediate surroundings.
Lou Ann leaves behind her daughter Rosie (Johan), her son Larry, her sister Marcie Bunker (Bruce) of St Louis, her nieces and nephews Becky Berger, Sarah Farris, Robin Lake (Matt), Ron Fitzgerald (Joanne), 2 grandchildren Monique and James of South Africa, 4 great grandchildren and numerous other nieces and nephews. Donations in Lou Ann Parsons’ memory can be sent to Pilgrim Place Resident Health and Support Fund (RHSP) via pilgrimplace.org or by check to 625 Mayflower Road, Claremont, California.
Her memorial service occurred May 11th so that her daughter could be present before returning to South Africa. It was recorded and the link to the recording is https://vimeo.com/708911885. Condolences to the family may be sent to Rosie Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.