Born in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1804, Peter Parker was the son of a poor farmer and the youngest of five children. Like many young men born during the religious revival known as the “Second Great Awakening,” young Parker understood Christianity as a powerful, transformative experience. After studying at Amherst College and then Yale University, Parker pursued his calling to be a missionary.
Parker was interested in more than spreading the Word. His work would be a mission of science and civilization, healing bodies as he brought souls to Christ. After earning his BA in 1831, he enrolled in graduate studies at Yale, focusing on theology and medicine. In 1834, Parker finished his training and was ordained as a Presbyterian Minister. A year later, he was in Guangzhou.