Reverend Henry W. Parker, Commencement speaker
The Reverend Henry W. Parker, pastor of the North Congregational Church of New Bedford, Massachusetts, spoke at Commencement.
Born in Ithaca, NY, where he lived until he was seventeen, Parker graduated from Amherst College and studied theology at Auburn, NY. His first pastorate was in Dansville, NY, followe dby four years in Brooklyn, NY, where he founded the Central Congregational Church. He was called to the North Congregational Church in 1856. One of Parker's first projects there was to design and build a stone chapel adjoining the church, at a cols of about $4,500. "The memorable and mighty revival of 1857-58 first began to develop itself in [New Bedford] in a union prayer meeting, which Mr. Parker was influential in establishing." Seventy-four people joined the church on 2 May 1858. "Mr. Parker was a kind and generous-hearted man, and discharged his duties with a conscientious fidelity," which doubled his church's membership.
Parker was one of the managers of the New Bedford Bible Society. On 28 December 1862, Parker preached a sermon, "The Despised Race", at the Salem Baptist Church, which was published in 1863. The arduous labors of the revival, along with the depressed prosperity of New Bedford following the decline of the whaling industry and the advent of the Civil War, made it necessary for Parker to resign his pastorate in 1863. He studied science in Cambridge until 1865, and became a professor of chemistry and natural sciences at Iowa College.