Name: Philip Elston Campbell
Residence: Juneau, Alaska
Profession: Pastor, Northern Light United Church, Juneau, and Adjunct Faculty of the Iliff School of Theology, Denver
Are there any websites, twitter IDs, or other social media information you want us to mention on this page? The Church has a website and a Facebook page. The web address is www.northernlightchurch.org. The site includes some of my articles and sermons. We also livestream our Sunday morning service here. Previous services are also archived on this site.
What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes? Why do you enjoy them? I like to walk, read, sing, travel, hear other people’s stories, and hang out with Teresa. In Denver I bicycled regularly, but have not yet gotten into the habit of riding in the Juneau rain.
When did you first hear about the town of Phil Campbell, Alabama? I was in grade school when I learned of the town from my younger brother who read atlases for fun. I first visited Phil Campbell in 1995.
Were you able to attend the Phil Campbell Hoedown of June 2011? Yes.
If you did go to the hoedown, what did you think of the experience? It was powerful. It was terrific to meet the other Phils and I was (and am) inspired by the townsfolk. I am humbled by town’s warm hospitality and its appreciation for our presence amid all the challenges the town faced, and faces. I appreciate the hard work of Brooklyn Phil and many in the town that made the Phil Campbell Convention and hoedown possible. The church I serve, Northern Light, raised $5,000 for the Habitat house. The United Methodist Church sent a video journalist to cover the event. He produced a short video, “The House that Phil Built,” that I narrated. It is available on YouTube.
You are a Phil Campbell. What do you think of that name? I have gone by “Phil,” rather than “Philip” most of my life. Prior to the 2011 Phil Campbell convention, I had no complaints about my name but didn’t feel particularly connected to it. I feel more so now. I wrote about my response to my name, as well as my participation in the Phil Campbell Convention in a June 2011 column in the Juneau Empire.
Tell us a little about yourself, as many words as you would like. I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the third of five children. I did my undergraduate work in a small liberal arts college in Enid, OK that is now closed. Teresa and I have been married for 35 years and we have two children. In addition to serving as a local church pastor, I’ve been a college chaplain, interfaith agency director, and a seminary professor. I lived in Denver, CO for most of my adult life. Our current home, Juneau, is a beautiful, rainy, fascinating place only accessible by boat or plane. It is a former Tlingit fishing village. Tlingit people comprise about 20% of the current population and are working diligently to revive their vibrant culture and complex language that had been pushed to the brink of extinction by white colonists and missionaries. Juneau is the state capital with an economy dominated by government services, tourism, fishing and mining. We live in what passes for downtown which is mostly carved out of the side of a mountain or built on mine tailings used as fill to enlarge the waterfront of Gastineau Channel. Most days we can walk wherever we need to go and we are only a few blocks from hiking trails on Mt. Roberts and Mt. Juneau. Everyone should come visit!
A few other tidbits about me:
* Save for three months in the spring of 1974 I have sported a beard since 1972. In ’74 my grandmother asked me to shave so that she could see my face again before she died. She repeated her request ten years later, but I didn’t comply the second time.
* For five years when our older daughter was in elementary and middle school, I coached the rec league soccer team she played on. The girls taught me everything I know about soccer and also taught me to get over my competitiveness, a lesson I haven’t learned very well. Did I mention the team had a winning record each of the five years I coached and won the city championship once?
* I don’t think “liberal” is a bad word.
* Among the things I once thought that I would do, but now doubt I ever will are writing a novel, running for public office, and learning to play the guitar.
* My stepfather recently died just short of his 98th birthday; among my current goals is to live as long as he did.