Bishop Gregory Parris, pastor, musician, and community leader, passed away Feb. 28, at the age of 62.
Bishop Parris had been senior pastor at Church of Love Faith Center in Rochester, and in Metropolitan Washington, DC.
In addition to his role as pastor, Parris also served as director of the University of Rochester Christian Fellowship, director of a local multicultural organization of pastors called S.T.R.I.K.E., and as a member of the board of directors of Reconciliation! International Ministries.
Most recently, he had also participated in Mayor Lovely Warren’s “Clergy on Patrol” initiative; a program the city started in 2014, which paired local clergy members and police officers on foot patrols, in an effort to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
“Bishop Gregory Parris was not only a great man of God, but I also considered him to be a great friend,” Mayor Warren stated. “Bishop Parris always placed the needs of the community ahead of his personal needs. He was one of the first pastors to support my Clergy on Patrol initiative. He was the embodiment of selflessness. Our city has lost one of its great leaders, and we are diminished due to his passing.”
Parris majored in cello and saxophone performance at the University of Maryland, and received his B.A. in music from the University of Rochester. He also served as a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Board of Directors, and as the director of the Eagle Youth Arts Academy.
“He was a pastor for 35 years,” executive pastor at Church of Love Faith Center, and Rochester City Court Judge, Stephen Miller stated. “His favorite Bible character was David. David wasn’t perfect, like all of us, but what made David special, was that he was a man after God’s heart. And, I think that was a description that fit Bishop Parris extremely well. He believed it was important to love God, and to love our neighbors. He exemplified that in his life. That’s why there’s such an outpouring of love, and support, for the pastor.”
New Life Fellowship Church has also released the following statement, regarding Parris’ passing:
“On behalf of the church, our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Our whole church has been challenged by the loss of Bishop Parris. He’ll be greatly missed by the community; not only the religious community, but the community as as a whole. Bishop Parris did everything he could, to help as many people as he could. We’re going to do our best to continue the things that he emphasized are important.”
Parris formerly served as associate director of development for the George Eastman Circle, at the University of Rochester, and Northeastern Seminary, and frequently lectured at the University of Rochester, Northeastern Seminary, and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
In addition to his many other accomplishments, he also performed with the University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra, Penfield Symphony Orchestra, Genesee Chamber Trio, the American Light Opera Company, as a freelance musician, and with the jazz group Breathe.
Parris was also successful in the retail automobile business for 18 years, in the areas of sales, business management, and ownership, prior to his career as a full-time pastor. He had also previously been an adjunct professor at Monroe Community College.
Parris is survived by his wife, Myra; sister and brother, Janelle Parris and Alvin Parris, three children; and his mother, Edith Parris.
Memorial Service: Church of Love Faith Center, 700 Exchange Street, Monday, March 7th, 4 – 8 pm.
Funeral Service: Riverside Convention Center, Tuesday, March 8th, 10 am
Celebration of Life Service: (Location not confirmed), Friday, March 18th, 7pm
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