N.C. ministry leader honored with state’s highest service award
By Chad Austin/BSCNC Staff
HICKORY, N.C. (BP) – Longtime North Carolina ministry leader Larry Phillips has been honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award for state service granted by the governor.
Phillips received the award last November during a surprise presentation at the conclusion of a worship service at First Baptist Church of Hickory, where he currently serves as associate pastor of missions mobilization and administration.
“It caught me totally by surprise,” Phillips said. “I trust God will use this event to inspire others to attempt great things in making Him known among all peoples. I am humbled by all of the life experiences and peoples God has brought into my life in order to shape me into the image of Christ. I am blessed and thankful for all of the unique opportunities for ministry and service that God has provided.”
Established in 1963, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments. Individuals named to the order become North Carolina “ambassadors” with their names and award dates recorded on a roster maintained by the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society.
Recipients of the award include North Carolinians such as Billy Graham, Andy Griffith, Michael Jordan, Richard Petty, Dean Smith and Bob Timberlake. Other notable honorees include: Gerald Ford, John Glenn, Coretta Scott King and Colin Powell.
Phillips has been serving in ministry for 53 years and counting, during which time he has served as a pastor, missionary, church consultant, chaplain and more.
He began his ministry as pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church in Lexington, N.C., in 1969, before coming to First Baptist Church of Hickory as associate pastor in 1973. After sensing a call to the mission field, Phillips went on to serve as a missionary with the International Mission Board (IMB) from 1981 to 1999.
Phillips’ tenure with the IMB was mostly spent in Peru, where he served as a pastor, church planter, director of theological education, administrator and more. Including Peru, Phillips has engaged in missions work in 25 different countries.
In 2000, Phillips joined the staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, where he served in a variety of roles that included serving as a senior consultant for Hispanic ministries, a leadership coach and director of the former Hollifield Leadership Center in Conover, N.C.
Phillips also helped the state convention launch a ministry to immigrants in 2018 through a number of immigration centers across the state. He continues to serve as an accredited immigration representative with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Phillips returned to First Baptist Church of Hickory in his current role in August 2020.
Phillips has also served as a disaster relief chaplain with N.C. Baptists on Mission and a rapid response chaplain with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Phillips has also received a number of community and civic honors throughout his career, as well as engaged in numerous denominational and community service activities.
A native of Central, S.C., Phillips holds an associate degree from Anderson College and a bachelor’s degree from Furman University. He earned his master of divinity and doctor of ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“God took me out of a little mill village in South Carolina and showed me the world,” Phillips said. “It has been humbling and unbelievable.”
Union University has 200th birthday party
By Union University Staff
JACKSON (BP) – Union University turned 200 years old Feb. 3 with a special chapel service, bicentennial birthday party, a documentary release and more. The celebration began in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel with a chapel service featuring interviews from each living Union president. Union is affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
David Dockery, president of Union from 1996-2014, began the bicentennial chapel service by wishing Union a happy 200th birthday and celebrating the university’s Christ-centered convictions.
He joined Tim Ellsworth, associate vice president for university communications, through a video interview.
“The university has rallied for almost three decades now around some core values that hold the institution together — excellence-driven, Christ-centered, people-focused and future-directed,” Dockery said.
He urged the Union community to remain true to these core values as they continue to give thanks to God, care for each other and pursue academic excellence.
Then, Hyran Barefoot, Union president from 1987-1996, and Bob Agee, Union alumnus and president emeritus of Oklahoma Baptist University, were interviewed by Ethan Voss, current Union student and SGA president.
They recalled memories from the old Union University campus, located in downtown Jackson, and noted the tremendous growth Union has experienced over the past 50 years.
Barefoot said while the former Union University campus was small and poor, the people were what made Union special. He said Union had a gift of attracting excellent students and faculty who were outstanding in their specific fields.
“Union is on the threshold of its greatest days today,” Agee said. “We’ve got a voice; we’ve got a message, and that makes the future even more exciting.”
Finally, Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, current Union University president, was interviewed by Union senior, Steve Williams. Oliver said Union’s 200th anniversary is a testament to the students and alumni who love and continue to invest in its Christ-centered mission.
“I hope that you will come back when Union turns 250 years old … and you’ll reminisce about the people you met here, the faculty who influenced you here and how good God has been to you,” Oliver said.
The service ended with three generations of Union alumni — Wayne (’81), Jeff (’89) and Brett Perkins (’12) — leading the audience in the worship song, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
In addition to the chapel service, Union University hosted a birthday party for Union students, staff, faculty and alumni with food, games, giveaways and more. During the celebration, A.J. Massey, Madison County mayor, read an official proclamation declaring Feb. 3 to be Union University Day in Jackson and Madison County.
Union University also released a special bicentennial documentary of Union’s rich history, told through the voices of key leaders who know and love the institution.