Reverend Donald Phillips occupies many roles: pastor, president, husband, father and, most recently, faith community liaison between Albion and Albion College students.
Philips has pastored at Lewis Chapel, one of the oldest African American churches in Albion, for 10 years. The church celebrated its 98th birthday on Sunday. He also serves as President of the Albion Ministerial Association and father to his four children, ages 11, six, four and two, with another baby on the way. Phillips and his wife expect the newest addition of their family to arrive in December.
On top of all his responsibilities, Phillips visits Albion College on Tuesdays and Thursdays to offer spiritual support to students. He has been working as faith community liaison since September, although he has been involved in spiritual life on campus unofficially for about nine years. According to Phillips, he is here to listen and help students process their new life experiences at college.
“I’ve always had a love for campus ministry for college students because it’s such an informative time in a person’s life,” Phillips said. “To be on your own, to make decisions good or bad and to learn from those decisions and those experiences… I think it’s such a shaping moment in someone’s life, and so, to be a part of that I think is a wonderful thing.”
He is also available to discuss students’ questions about faith, help them sort through their own beliefs and aid students already involved in campus ministry at Albion. Even though his background is Christian, Phillips has had the chance to engage with Muslim students on campus, as well as students who don’t know what their spiritual beliefs are.
He described himself as “very welcoming,” and affirmed that he is a resource for everyone. “I’m a people person, so I definitely want people to feel comfortable to be able to come and talk and even ask questions,” he said.
Despite his success, Philips is quick to point out the accomplishments of his wife, Rev. Dr. Teleah Young-Hamilton. Young-Hamilton is an ordained minister, primary care physician, 2004 graduate of Albion College and a mother. “She’s a miracle,” Phillips said.
Albion College President Mauri Ditzler invited Phillips to take on the role of community faith liaison. Ditzler attends Phillips’ church, Lewis Chapel, on Sundays when he can. “I found him an engaging, bright, delightful person,” Ditzler said.
Ditzler added that if students want to meet local ministers or partner with a church for a community service project, they can contact Phillips for that as well.
Rev. Phillips is officially on campus on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., although he mentioned he can be flexible. Students can set up a meeting with him by calling the chaplain’s office at (517) 629-0494, or they can contact him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When asked what he was most looking forward to, Phillips responded, “Meeting wonderful students. Meeting wonderful students and being a support in their success.”
Photo by Nicole Kurlich