Blanco First Baptist Church recently welcomed David and Mary Park as interim pastor and forever missionaries at heart. The Parks have been married for 46 years and have three sons and nine grandchildren.
Chaplain David M. Park distinguished himself as a military chaplain and officer, having served as Command Chaplain for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD), United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), and Chief of Manpower, Budget, Readiness and Reserve Affairs for the United States Air Force Chaplain Service. In August 2005, Chaplain Park retired from military service in the rank of Colonel. Among his military decorations, he received the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster.
Prior to his military service, Chaplain Park served as pastor of several churches, including Bell Falls Baptist Church, Bell Falls, Texas; Allison Baptist Church, Lipan, Texas; and Southside Baptist Church, Granbury, Texas. In addition, he was interim pastor at First Baptist Church, Luverne, Alabama. He taught New Testament at Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary in Baggio, Philippines.
Chaplain Park coordinated with the Baptist General of Texas (BGCT) and the Department of Defense Armed Forces Chaplain Board to establish the BGCT as a military chaplain endorsing entity. He is an accomplished writer whose articles have been published in numerous theological journals.
Chaplain Park’s military assignments included Clark AB, Philippines; Fairchild AFB, Washington; Rhein Main AB, Germany; Maxwell AFB, Alabama; Bitburg AB, Germany; Randolph AFB, Texas; Osan AB, South Korea; Bolling AFB, District of Columbia; and Peterson AFB, Colorado.
Chaplain Park was awarded the BA degree from Baylor University, Master of Divinity and Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College and Air War College.
Throughout his career, Chaplain Park provided critical incident response to families and individuals affected by loss and tragedy. Beginning with the explosion of Mount Saint Helens, Chaplain Park was decorated for his initiative in supporting recovery operations at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Chaplain Park also responded to aircraft accidents in Germany, Saudi Arabia and Korea, and was among the first responders at Rhein Main AB, Germany, to the 241 victims of the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon.
Chaplain Park was recognized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for his part in recovery operations following the attack on the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001, where he rescued survivors from the Pentagon and assisted in establishing the Pentagon Family Assistance Center.
With the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Chaplain Park coordinated the Joint Chaplain response, ensuring that the astronauts were properly honored, including Colonel Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut.
After retiring from the Air Force, Chaplain Park served as director of the Louisiana Family Assistance Center (FAC), which in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita operated under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Through the collective efforts of the Louisiana FAC staff, 10,750 persons or 98.7 percent of reported missing persons were located and 887 storm victims or 97.5 percent of the fatalities were identified and reunited with surviving family members.
Mary and David moved from Colorado Springs to Blanco and built their home in Cielo Springs. He was then asked to take the deputy director position for the Office of the Chaplain at the National Guard Bureau, Arlington, Virginia. They lived in Alexandria, Virginia, from June 2008 to December 2011.
David and Mary began serving our church long before he was asked to be our interim. They started visiting the sick, hospitalized, homebound, and nursing home when they first came back from DC. Mary, encouraged by helping start an English as a Second Language program in VA., has developed our Monday night ESL for adults. She chairs the mission committee, and they have children in mission service as well.
Dr. Park will help our church until a full-time minister is selected. When asked what his prayer for FBC is now, he answered, “Our prayer and vision is to throw the doors of First Baptist wide open so every person in Blanco feels that they are valued as a child of God,” David said. “I pray that our members will actively support and facilitate any person’s search to know God and walk with Jesus.”