Born and raised in the deep South, Mary Foster Parmer is the Founder & Director of INVITE WELCOME CONNECT, a transformational ministry of evangelism, hospitality and belonging housed at the Beecken Center, School of Theology, University of the South. Mary is the author of the award-winning book, Invite Welcome Connect: Stories & Tools to Transform your Church.
Mary is the past Director of the Gathering of Leaders, a national leadership gathering of young Episcopal clergy. Mary currently serves on the Evangelism Grants Committee for The Episcopal Church, and in the past she served as a Lay Deputy to four General Conventions of The Episcopal Church and was a member of the Task Force on Clergy Leadership Formation in Small Churches (GC 2015-A045). Mary holds a degree in Religious Studies from St. Edwards University in Austin and formerly served as Director of Adult Ministries & Evangelism, St. Stephen’s, Beaumont. She has two grown children and six young grandchildren, builds stone labyrinths, and spends her time away from the office hiking and reading memoirs.
Mary Parmer’s personal call to work with congregations in newcomer ministry is borne out of her spiritual gift of exhortation (encouragement), her love of people, and her passion for welcoming the newcomer and empowering the laity. Mary’s passion is helping congregational leadership understand the importance of personal invitation, welcoming folks, hearing their story, recognizing their gifts, and then connecting them to ministry. Mary believes that the ministry of the laity is best carried out when individuals discern their own spiritual giftedness and then are empowered and equipped to live into their baptismal covenant by offering their individual gifts and talents to God.