Orlan and Margery Phillips Scholarship Endowment
The Orlan “Pete” and Margery Phillips Scholarship was established in 2005. As long time members of the Omaha General Baptist Church of Omaha, Illinois they had a history of commitment of personal support of Oakland City University. They had also supported a fund that provided help for young ministers from their General Baptist Mt. Olivet Association. Following her husband’s death in 1982, Margery often expressed the desire for a scholarship after her death as a memorial to her and her husband.
In July of 2005, she met with Dr. Tichenor at Oakland City for information about Endowed Scholarships. To her delight she learned of the Lily Foundation matching funds opportunity. Margery and her daughters, Rita Patrick and Connie Disney, moved forward to immediately establish a scholarship for students training for ministry and Christian education.
The guidelines for this scholarship were to provide help for students from the Illinois Mt. Olivet Association who were studying for the ministry and/or Christian education. If no students were available from Southern Illinois, then other students with the same majors would be considered. She and her daughters requested that recipients write about themselves and their goals and share those with the family. Although she was limited in the number of recipients she was able to hear from, her daughters, Rita Patrick and Connie Disney continue to enjoy hearing from the recipients and in knowing that their parents gift is ongoing.
In 2007, Margery was diagnosed with lung cancer (despite never smoking). Prior to moving from her home to live with a daughter, her home church, Omaha General Baptist Church, Omaha, Illinois, donated $10,000 to the Phillips Endowment. As members of the Mt Olivet Association, they added to the resources of the scholarship that could provide funds for students in Illinois who would serve General Baptist congregations. Following her death in 2008, more donations were added to the Scholarship Fund.
Pete died in 1982 but for 26 more years Margery continued a vibrant, active Christian life. During those years she wrote and published five books of Devotions, finishing her last one a few months before her death.
A personal description of her parents’ spiritual life was shared at Margery’s 75th birthday family celebration by one of her daughters. It follows:
Margery was the greatest prayer warrior we have ever met. No one could doubt the sincerity of her communion with God. She spent many hours on her knees for her family and untold others. When we say ‘on her knees,’ it is a literal statement. Every night for many years, until my sister and I no longer lived at home, we could see both our parents kneeling beside their bed, hands joined in prayer before they went to sleep. Prayer like everything else in life is work, and practice helps. Mom and Dad had a lot of practice.
Perhaps it was because they were farmers and children of farmers who lived close to the rhythms of the seasons, but they were practical about living their faith. They helped others, whether funding water wells in Africa, fish ponds and tractors in the Philippines, or buying magazine subscriptions for missionaries far from home. They believed in the Church and always worked to support its goals locally, nationally and worldwide.
Margery served as secretary of the Omaha General Baptist Church Sunday School for over 35 years. Orlan (Pete) spent many years as treasurer of the church and was a deacon. Margery organized the Women’s Missionary Society and worked in the Associational and Denominational branches. They supported Oakland City College where her aunt attended. It’s truly unknown how many people they helped in their own neighborhood. For over 35 years, she was a stable, constant force in the prayer group of local women from all denominations.
They were an example of putting feet on prayer and buckling down, whether to clean the church building, visiting the sick or sending cards to let shut-ins know they were not forgotten. Not the stuff of great famous leaders of our time, but the gritty, everyday constant of being God’s emissaries in the sphere where He had planted them.
Their faith was a developmental process. Pete was born into a Christian family. Many Methodist ministers are found in his family tree. Margery’s parents were also Methodist, except for her Edwards’ grandparents who were members of the Omaha General Baptist Church. After Pete and Margery married, they attended a small Methodist church near their home, but eventually began to attend the Omaha GB church, where her grandmother had been a charter member. Their faith was deepened by a revival held one year when Pete made a more serious commitment to Christ. From then on, both studied, prayed, practiced and grew in the faith.”
Her daughters’ wishes and prayers are for many to be blessed by the dedication and vision expressed by their parents’ scholarship.