We lost a husband, dad, friend, brother, and coworker last night. Phil Skellie was out for a walk and God decided that He wanted Phil’s work on earth to be finished – so He took him. I will miss Phil.
Last week I wrote about how much I value the unsung heroes of our church, not just the heroes that get the accolades and honor. Phil walked on both sides of that spectrum, and he did it well. Most of you probably don’t know how respected and valued Phil was around the Alliance – both in the U.S. and globally. Frankly, I am not sure Phil knew how much he was respected, but I hope the days to come will reveal and reflect some of that respect to Becky and his kids.
I hope to read everything that Phil wrote. I hope to listen to stories of his faith and perseverance. I hope to see his memory honored, and I am certain that he would want his life to point the way to Christ as the Way to the Father. I am certain that if you knew Phil, you met Jesus, because to have a conversation with Phil was to see the love and compassion of Christ. Therefore, I want to take this moment to honor a servant and saint that finished the race well.
One of my first real conversations with Phil was shortly after he and Becky started coming to HarvestDowntown. I remember the situation well, because it struck me that he was engaging in the ministry of Harvest during a season when a lesser man would have sat back and watched or criticized the local church. Instead, here he was standing out in the freezing cold on one of the coldest nights of the year, fully dressed in a shepherd’s costume, and welcoming children and families to our Interactive Nativity. That spring, when we had our cleanup day, there he was again picking up trash around the church and pulling weeds.
This is significant because Phil Skellie was a hero of the Alliance – a name I knew long before I moved to Colorado Springs. He was the son of Alliance missionaries and had served internationally as well. He had led CAMA Services to new levels of ministry and launched what is now another ministry point called Marketplace Ministries (IFAP for you old-timers). He understood the role of the local church and valued it enough to serve her rather than expecting to be served by her. He could have viewed dressing as a shepherd or pulling weeds as somehow insignificant compared to his greater ministry in the Kingdom – but that would have been inconsistent with his servant nature.
One Facebook post said that last night Phil most certainly heard the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come, enter your Master’s happiness.” I concur. This servant certainly knew how to carry the honor and respect that came with authority and position with great humility. He also knew how to work, live, and serve in the trenches of the obscure and inconspicuous with pride and joy. This last Sunday I teased him from the pulpit for being old enough to remember back when there were 8 planets, before there were 9, and now that there are 8 again. Phil just smiled with that big, toothy smile, (he really wasn’t that old, though he was older than he looked or acted!).
After my writing went out last week, he sent me this email, “An apt word! Phil.” That’s it. My response to him today is this, and I hope he hears it, “Well done! Kurt.”