Special to the Daily World
Fred A. Parker III, 51, of Union City, Georgia is the first African American to serve as an area authority in the worldwide church, known as "Elder", for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As President for many years in Atlanta, Parker sought ways to build families, bridge faith gaps, and serve the community. He now serves in a level of greater responsibility over several church presidents in the southeastern United States.
Parker's name was read aloud at a recent conference of the church and sustained by over 14 million members worldwide. His is not a paid position, as all the lay leaders of the church, and his duties will be carried out in his free time.
He was guest speaker several years ago direct from the pulpit in Salt Lake City Utah and has been interviewed as a leader representing the church numerous times.
Parker works full-time as a database administrator, is employed at the Atlanta Housing Authority. He and wife Lina O. Parker have five grown children. He is a former Atlanta Stake President, Bishop, Branch President, and counselor for the church, and loves assistant coaching for a local football team.
He is succeeded in Atlanta by the new metro area church President, Jermaine Nicholas Sullivan, a husband and father of three. To receive his new position as President, the spiritual leader over nine Bishops of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the metro area, was accompanied in his responsibilities by Kurt Heiss of Stone Mountain and Jack Beals of Smyrna.
Originally from Tuscaloosa Alabama, the 32 year old was introduced by Elder Parker, his longtime friend and previous president of the church in Atlanta. In his introduction of President Sullivan, Parker described him as "a great cook, a family man, one who knows the doctrine, and one who will show us a sermon, not just deliver it--by the way he lives his life."
Sullivan's life has been on display a great deal lately as he was featured along with his family in the church's media campaign known in Atlanta as "I'm a Mormon", and for their interviews and appearances on the Mormon.org website. Sullivan and his wife Bwekembe Marjorie Nakiina met while both attended a young single adult congregation and were married in the Atlanta Georgia LDS Temple. They are parents of three sons, Jeremiah, Abram, and Corbin. Sullivan works for the University of Phoenix in Atlanta.
A bold but soft-spoken man, Sullivan brings a quiet strength and wisdom to his position. Members of the church in Atlanta have known him for many years, and seen him develop into a wise and loving husband and father, and a servant of God, according to news reports. Before his new position, Sullivan served as Bishop over the congregation at 1469 Lee Street. He now presides over the nine congregations in the metro area.