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Pete Phillips retiring from Carey and Clay associationscomment (0)

March 6, 2003

By Lauren Brooks

William “Pete” Phillips doesn’t expect April 2 to be much different from April 1 except that he may be doing a little more flower gardening.

Although he is retiring as director of missions for the Carey/Clay Association on April 1, Phillips still plans to be actively involved in many of the activities he oversaw, just not in a job capacity. Specifically, Phillips plans to continue teaching in associational churches as needed and working with the Clay County jail ministry. “I’m not retiring from God’s work, just changing directions,” he said. “I’ll still be here and will help as needed and as God calls.”

The only layman who serves as a director of missions in Alabama, Phillips will retire after 13 years of service. “I’m the only eight ball in the state,” he said. “It’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.”

Phillips became interested in missions after he took what he calls a life-changing missions trip to Africa in 1982. He retired from civil service in 1988 and became director of missions on April 1, 1990. “God put me in different situations and called me to serve as director of missions,” he said.

Originally known as the Tri-Mission Association, which included Carey, Clay and Randolph counties, the Carey/Clay Association was formed in January 1990 after the Randolph Association established its own association. Phillips was appointed director of missions for Carey/Clay at that time.

Bruce Willis, pastor of First Baptist, Ashland, Phillips’ home church, said Phillips has been a key lay leader in the church and association for a long time. “Out of a search for someone to carry on a unified ministry, Pete Phillips was called and he has kept the ship on course,” Willis said.

One of the associational programs that Phillips helped start was the ministry at Clay County Jail which began about 10 years ago. Every Sunday Phillips sets up a worship service for inmates at the facility, and sometimes he even preaches. “You could call me the unofficial chaplain of the jail,” he said. “Several of the inmates have made professions of faith, and we’ve taken them to churches under guard so they can be baptized.”

Another ministry that has flourished under Phillips is Carpenters for Christ, a group of volunteers who help others in need. “We do home repairs for people who are unable to, like installing handicap ramps at a home,” Phillips said. “We also help in disasters, like when tornadoes do damage.”

Other programs started during Phillips’s tenure as director of missions include a tutoring program for elementary schoolers, a literacy program for adults and a Hispanic English class and church.

According to Willis, Phillips has kept the association moving in a forward direction. “The association has grown stronger over the period of time Pete has served as director of missions,” he said. “We’ve got a stronger financial basis, and he has developed the associational building so he’s leaving things in good order.”

Willis said he imagines that it must be a challenge for Phillips to minister to other ministers without being one himself but that he always rises to the occasion. “He constantly provides pastoral support and is very influential in leadership,” Willis said. “I look to him for wisdom, advice and input.”

Besides gardening, Phillips looks forward to spending more time with his wife of more than 50 years, Mary, their three daughters, and three granddaughters during his retirement. Although Phillips is retiring, he insists he’s not leaving, however. “I’m here and will help as needed,” he said. “I was raised in this county, it’s my home.”

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