Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, was diagnosed last week with acute leukemia. He is undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

Gary Burton, vice chairman of BCE’s board of directors, asked fellow board members to join him in praying for Parham and his family in an e-mail announcing the illness.

“The organization is going to continue working at a high level of effectiveness,” Burton, pastor of Pintlala Baptist Church in Hope Hull, Ala., said Wednesday. “The staff is raising the bar in terms of productivity. We want to be more effective than ever when Robert returns to work.”

Parham, 51, founded BCE in 1991 and is its first executive director.

“I am grateful for the countless notes and e-mails of prayer support for recovery from acute leukemia,” Parham said Wednesday from his hospital room. “I would ask that those who pray for my well-being would also work for justice for Americans who don’t have access to affordable high quality healthcare.”

Parham had been suffering from flu-like symptoms since returning several weeks ago from tsunami-stricken areas in Asia. His doctors debated whether it was an infectious disease prior to a decisive diagnosis made with a bone-marrow biopsy.

His white blood cell count is near zero, he said, and all other numbers are very low, which is a positive sign for the next step toward recovery.

Parham’s family welcomes and appreciates thoughts and prayers. Cards may be sent to the Baptist Center for Ethics, 4219 Hillsboro Road, Ste. 210, Nashville, TN 37215.

Bob Allen is managing editor of

Share This