Notes about people

April 2, 2012

Ruling Elder Robert Wilson, vice-moderator of the 217th General Assembly (2006) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), accompanied by his wife Patricia, was honored with a Rosetta James Foundation “Honoring Our Elders” community service award on March 10 in Huntsville, Ala.

The gala celebration honoring Wilson was held at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Ala.

The Rosetta James Foundation annually honors with the award “distinguished, venerable individuals who have made stellar contributions to humankind, have espoused over time unabashed community involvement and have exuded an impeccable commitment to educational excellence.” 

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The Rev. J. Davison Philips, president emeritus of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., died in Black Mountain, N.C., March 25.

Born in 1920 in Peason, La., he grew up in and near Tallahassee, Florida. He graduated from Hampton Sydney College in 1940 and from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1943.  He was a chaplain in the Navy in World War II and served with the Seabees on Guam.

After the war, Philips did post graduate work at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and earned his PhD from there in 1955. He served pastorates at First Presbyterian Church in Thomasville, Ga., and at Decatur (Ga.) Presbyterian Church for 21 years. From 1976-1986 he was the President of Columbia Theological Seminary. 

After his retirement from the seminary, Philips served interim pastorates at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta and St. Andrews and Shallowford Road Presbyterian Churches in the city. He was moderator of Atlanta Presbytery and the Synod of Georgia. In 1958 he was a signer of a manifesto that strongly advocated a different and positive approach to race relations in the South.  The document stated in part, “No policy which seeks to keep anyone from developing fully every capacity of body, mind, and spirit can be justified in the light of Scripture.”  

Philips loved golf and at times belonged to the Atlanta Athletic Club, the Druid Hills Golf Club and to the Biltmore Forrest Golf Club in Asheville, N.C. , near his retirement home in Montreat. 

He is survived by his wife of 69 years, the former Katherine Wright of Atlantic Beach, Fla.; three children, Jim and his wife Donna, June and her husband Dr. Robert Peel, and Graham and his wife Marsha; 5 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.  His sister Katherine Long of Lookout Mountain, Tenn. and brother the Rev. Harry W. Philips of Gainesville, Ga., also survive him.

A service of witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ will be held March 31 at Decatur Presbyterian Church.   

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Edmond Perret, former general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), died March 24 in Geneva. He was 87.

“The Reformed family of churches worldwide has lost a brilliant mind, a loving leader and a pastor committed to societal transformation,” said General Secretary Setri Nyomi of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

Perret, a native of Switzerland born in 1925,  served as general secretary of WARC from 1970 to 1989. In 2010, WARC merged with the Reformed Ecumenical Council to become the WCRC.

His tenure as general secretary was marked by growing church opposition to apartheid rule in South Africa. In 1982, under his leadership, WARC’s highest governing body declared apartheid to be a sin.

Perret was ordained in the Protestant Church of Geneva in 1950. Following graduate theological studies at McGill University in Montreal, Perret served as a pastor in the United Church of Canada from 1951-1956. His time in Canada included a two-year stint as editor of the church’s French-language newspaper. He served as president of the Synod of the Protestant Church of Geneva from 1964-1966.

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