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BVAG counselor is ‘Servant Leadership Award’ winner
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

September 30. 2013 6:00AM
Tears well up in Sue Parton’s eyes as she talks about the recent accolade she received.

But it’s not the framed award that calls out her emotions; it’s the simple word “servant.”
Parton, 80, a counselor at Brandon Valley Assembly of God, is this year’s recipient of the Servant Leadership Award. The honor was presented to her at the World Conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors in Nashville, Tenn.

“I’m just thrilled,” says a humbled Parton. “I like it because it has the word ‘servant’ in there. I wouldn’t have cared if they gave it to me for some outstanding thing, but servant is nice.”

Pastor Kirk Strand said Parton is well deserving of the honor.

“You can see her heart, you can see who she is,” he said. “When you sit down with her, you see a sweet little grandma, and then her wisdom and heart come out.”

Parton, a board certified pastoral counselor, joined the staff at BVAG in January 2010. She’s available to counsel both church and community members four days a week – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“I don’t have a lot of people to counsel so I help in other areas of the church,” she said. “I have been doing a lot of marriage counseling and pre-marital counseling.” Three to four wedding are performed annually at BVAG, she said, adding that pre-marital counseling is a requisite.

Helping in those “other areas of the church” include working with preschool children and sometimes giving piano lessons.

“I really enjoy being in this particular church,” she said. “It’s grown so much – more than doubled since I’ve been here.”

Parton has had a longstanding relationship with the church. For many years she served as a pastor’s wife and since becoming a widow in 2005, continued in this work.

In addition to her part-time counseling work at BVAG, she serves as volunteer counselor two days a week at the Alpha Center, a women’s pregnancy crisis center, in Sioux Falls.
Growing up in a home with irresponsible parents, Parton chose to be “better rather than bitter,” she said. “I didn’t want people to hurt the way I hurt as a child,” she said. “Sometimes, people just need somebody to let it out on.”

Parton, a mother to two daughters and grandmother to four, graduated from the Salvation Army Training College for Officers in 1951. From 1951-60, she served as a Salvation Army Officer. Three decades later, Parton obtained her Bachelor of Theology degree from International Seminary in 1990, and her Masters of Biblical Studies in 1994. Six years later, she earned her Doctorate of Christian Counseling from Andersonville Seminary. She’s also completed many AACC courses and is certified with the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling.

While it took 50 years for Parton to complete her counseling degrees, Parton says, “I feel like I finally got where I was supposed to be.”

Sue Parton, a counselor at Brandon Valley Assembly of God, is a recipient of the Servant Leadership Award in the pastoral counselor division. The award was presented to Parton at the recent World Conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Jill Meier

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