Reverend Dr. Oscar George Phillips was the much loved and long-serving pastor of 43 years at Shiloh Baptist Church in West Medford. In addition to serving in West Medford, “OG” directed the Clinical Pastoral Education program at Tewksbury State Hospital and Boston City Hospital through Andover Newton Theological School, where he was a faculty member. He also acted as Director of Training at the Boston Counseling Center. Throughout his career, OG has received innumerable honors and awards for his work in his community as well as for his larger leadership roles within the American Baptist Churches and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. OG is remembered, however, as a humble, down-to-earth man. He was a caring, dedicated, and compassionate minister. He is remembered as a great friend, with a wonderful sense of humor. He also was known for his boundless energy and the way in which he would take an interest in everyone at his church.
OG Phillips grew up with five siblings in Jamaica, where his father worked as a pharmacist and his mother worked as an architect. As a young man he left Jamaica and first worked in a hospital in Panama. From Panama, OG went to Marshall, Texas to begin his seminary training at Bishop College, and eventually came to Massachusetts to finish his education at Andover Newton Theological Seminary.
OG was very dedicated to his calling. His energy was expressed not only in his sense of fun but also in the amount of work he did and in the time he gave to others. He passed on these standards to the students he taught and gave them the confidence to take on many challenges. OG provided similar care, support, and encouragement for the people in the West Medford community, regardless of whether they were members of the Shiloh church.
In Reverend Phillips’ ministry, interaction with different people in the community was crucial. Shiloh was an open place to which leaders and others from outside the congregation were often invited. For OG, the community and the church were parts of the same whole, and his dedication to both of those shone through in all aspects of his career. Because of this notion the church became a center for the community, providing a safe place and a forum for speaking about issues that affected all aspects of life in West Medford.
Shortly after he came to Medford, OG met Miriam Faulcon. They married in 1954, and Miriam became an integral part of his ministry. The couple worked tirelessly for their community and for the American Baptist Church more broadly. In the midst of their work within the community, OG and Miriam also raised a son and daughter, Peter and young Miriam.
Reverend Phillips retired from Shiloh Baptist Church in 1993 and moved shortly thereafter to a retirement facility. Although now in his 90s, Reverend Phillips is still vividly and fondly remembered in West Medford. The community that O.G. Phillips devotedly and tirelessly served for such a significant portion of his life is able to carry on with the memory of this man and of the many lives he impacted throughout his own quiet work. His dignity and humility help people remember him with respect and admiration. Their memories and the stories they tell serve as his longest and most important legacy.
Gwynne Langley, May 2005
Resource persons: Hon. Marie Oliver Jackson, Mrs. Leona Martin, Mr. David Phillips, Rev. Lois Pinton, Mrs. Evelyn Tyner