Calvin Luther Phillips, age 88, died in Elizabethton, TN, on September 11, 2013.
He was born on the family farm in Belmont County, Ohio, on September 11, 1925, to Luther and Jessie Phillips. In addition to his parents, Calvin was preceded in death by Gail German Phillips, his devoted wife of 49 years; and a sister, Arlene Phillips.
He is survived by his widow, Sally Rollins Phillips; sisters, Laura Nelle Lillie and Elaine Phillips; and five children: Patricia Magness (Lee), Elizabethton, TN, Phil Phillips (Barbara), Hebron, OH, Penny Phillips (Mike Brown), Rehoboth Beach, DE, Robin Phillips (Richard Connor), Cleveland, OH, and Joy Phillips (Paul Craley), Annapolis, MD. He is survived by four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren: Emily Phillips Tansey (John and children, Aidan and Eli), Erik Magness (Yooson Kim and children, Leigh and Lane), Ethan Magness (Betsy and children, Evan and Bryant), Aaron Phillips (Kristen and children, Isaac and Samuel). Other survivors include twelve nieces and nephews and their children, as well as step-daughter, Linda Green (Jim), of Bellefontaine, OH; and step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren.
Calvin entered Cincinnati Bible Seminary (now Cincinnati Christian University) in 1941, where he met Gail Myrtle German. They married in 1946 and ministered at the Church of Christ in Rushsylvania, Ohio, while he completed bachelor and master’s degrees. In 1952, Calvin received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Butler School of Religion. In 1981, he was honored with a Doctor of Divinity degree from Milligan College, and in 1982, he received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.
In 1950, Calvin and Gail moved to Hammond, IN, to serve South Side Christian Church, working for 34 years as tireless servants in the Kingdom of God. Calvin had a heart for urban ministry, and he provided visionary leadership for the Chicago District Evangelistic Association (now IGNITE) in the task of church planting.
As part of his leadership, he served for many years as editor of the Evangel, a regional publication. He also provided significant leadership for Lake Region Christian Assembly, the regional Christian service camp. Calvin was active in the local ministerial association and in civic associations of Hammond, IN.
During his time at South Side Christian Church, the congregation grew consistently and undertook several programs of building and remodeling. Eventually Calvin led the congregation in relocating to a larger property and building a beautiful building, in which he took great pleasure. Christian education, from the nursery to the Senior Saints, was a hallmark of his ministry, as was powerful preaching and close personal relationships with the people of the congregation.
During these years at South Side, Calvin served on the boards of three graduate seminaries, Lincoln Christian Seminary, Cincinnati Christian Seminary and Emmanuel School of Religion. A highlight of his ministry was the opportunity to serve as president of the North American Christian Convention in Louisville in 1981.
In 1984, Calvin became the president of Emmanuel School of Religion (now Emmanuel Christian Seminary), where Gail served by his side until her death in 1995. Following his retirement after ten years as president, he served Emmanuel as chancellor for ten more years, and continued serving Emmanuel as a good will ambassador until his death. Deeply committed to graduate theological education, Calvin worked for the establishment of the Doctor of Ministry program at Emmanuel. He loved recruiting students, visiting donors, and mentoring ministers.
He married Sally Rollins in 1996. Calvin and Sally worked in interim ministries at Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, MD, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in Zanesville, OH, and Grandview Christian Church in Johnson City, TN. He was an elder for many years at First Christian Church, Johnson City, TN, and as long as possible an active member of the Win-a-Couple Sunday School Class.
Sally faithfully cared for him throughout his battle with Parkinson’s disease, helping him maintain an active life and ministry. Calvin developed a love of travel from his childhood, and he visited all fifty states and led many trips abroad.
Calvin was immensely proud of his children, often saying, “My children are my greatest treasure.” He also loved students and preachers and the church. Throughout his life he nurtured a keen, curious mind and encouraged everyone he met to read, learn, ask and believe. He was a faithful servant of Christ, a beloved husband and father, and a devoted teacher and church leader.
The family will receive friends at Appalachian Funeral Home, 800 E. Watauga Ave., Johnson City, TN, on Friday, September 13, 2013, from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. and on Saturday, September 14, 2013, from 12:30 to 2:30 P.M. in the Emmanuel Christian Seminary Chapel.
The funeral service will follow in the chapel of Emmanuel Christian Seminary, 1 Walker Drive, Johnson City, TN, on Saturday at 2:30 P.M., and at the Belmont Ridge Christian Church, Bethesda, OH, on Monday, September 16, 2013, at 11:00 A.M.
The graveside committal service will follow in the Belmont Ridge Christian Church Cemetery near Beallsville, Ohio, where he will be laid to rest.
Memorials may be sent to Emmanuel Christian Seminary, 1 Walker Dr., Johnson City, TN 37601.
Memories and condolences may be shared at www.appfh.net.
Appalachian Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 800 E. Watauga Ave., Johnson City, TN 37601, is serving the Phillips family. (423) 928-6111