Written by Charles Zimmerman
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 00:00
Where have they gone & where are they now?
For more than a year now, I have been issuing updates on the founding faculty members and then former faculty members of Biblical Seminary to see where they are today and what they are doing. I hope you have enjoyed catching up with our former teachers.
For the next few posts, I want to update you on a few alums. I have been in contact with graduates from each of the decades of Biblical’s history, so you all should recognize some of the names if not the faces. Even if you don’t recognize the names, get to know some of the Biblical graduates and learn what they have been doing since they left seminary.
Out first alum update is actually a couple: Perry and Elaine Phillips!
Perry and Elaine received their Master of Divinity degrees from Biblical Theological Seminary in 1976. At the encouragement of Dr. Allan MacRae, they headed to Israel to study at the American Institute of Holy Land Studies, founded by Dr. G. Douglas Young who had also been a student of Dr. MacRae. Although Perry and Elaine intended to stay just one year, that year turned into three as they both earned Masters in Arts degrees in Hebrew. During that time, Perry taught countless students who came from around the world for a three week intensive study of the Physical Settings of the Bible. Elaine taught Biblical Hebrew and worked as program coordinator for the Physical Settings course.
Upon their return, they taught at Pinebrook Junior College, the denominational college of the Bible Fellowship Church, until it closed in 1992. During that time, Elaine earned her PhD in rabbinic literature from The Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning and also served for four years as Academic Dean at Pinebrook. Perry began working for Kutzner Manufacturing Company in Telford, PA, in 1991 as staff physicist. The Pinebrook years were both challenging and invigorating as between them they taught Astronomy, Geology, Calculus, Christian Service, one semester of New Testament Greek (Perry);Old and New Testament Surveys (both); and Psychology, Music, and biblical studies electives (Elaine).
Both were active in the Bethany Bible Fellowship Church in Hatfield, PA. Perry team-taught Sunday School with Bob Newman for a number of years and Elaine served as organist and choir director in addition to teaching Sunday School.
When Pinebrook closed in May 1992, Elaine did some adjunct teaching at BTS the following year and then was hired to fill an Old Testament position at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. They moved to the North Shore of the Boston area, and Perry began to work for Comverse Technology as a quality assurance engineer. After the company downsized in 2002, Perry was available to serve as an adjunct instructor at Gordon College (various math classes, astronomy, biblical studies). Elaine has taught in the Biblical Studies department at Gordon since 1993. During that time, she has been granted the Distinguished Faculty award on two occasions.
Elaine and Perry have continued regularly to take Gordon students back to Jerusalem University College (formerly the American Institute of Holy Land Studies), where they serve as adjunct faculty. Elaine spent one sabbatical there (spring 1998) and has spent parts of two additional sabbaticals at Tyndale House in Cambridge, UK. Elaine’s areas of interest and scholarly writing include the books of Exodus and Esther, biblical wisdom literature, and rabbinic midrash. She also enjoys music and sang with Gordon’s symphonic chorale for the five seasons of its existence.
Both serve as founding Board members of the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, and Perry is currently the director following the retirement of Dr. Robert Newman. Perry’s interests range widely across scientific, theological, and political issues. He has presented talks on various subjects in numerous venues. Lately he is concentrating on demonstrating that the current conversation on global warming is shaped more by politics than by good science.
Since the summer of 2010, Elaine’s mother has been living with Perry and Elaine. She celebrated her 98thbirthday in June 2012. It is indeed a privilege to “honor” her with daily care and it is a joy because her life is shaped by a continually thankful spirit.
Charles Zimmerman is the Thomas V. Taylor Professor of Practical Theology. He also serves as Teaching Pastor at Calvary Church in Souderton. He is married to Kim and they have two daughters, Ashley and Megan.