Robert Phillips, Pastor
Pastor Robert comes to Woodland with over 20 years of experience in Ministry. He grew up north of Longview in the area of Lake O’ the Pines and Daingerfield. He comes from a Baptist faith tradition, having served primarily in churches of the American Baptist Association. After graduating from Texas Baptist Institute-Seminary with a Master of Theology, Pastor Robert attended language school with his wife in Edinburg, Texas where he learned to speak Spanish. During his career Robert has served as a Youth Minister, Music Minister, Associate Pastor, Pastor, Missionary and Seminary Instructor. He feels blessed to have ministered in both short and long term positions on 4 continents and in 5 countries.
Despite his experience and qualifications, Robert first came to Woodland as many of our members have. He came as a person who was looking for healing and acceptance. He felt the sting of rejection and loss when he revealed to his friends and family that he is gay. In January of 2013, Robert stepped hesitantly and anonymously through the doors of Woodland Christian Church. Pastor Robert says, “I discovered the warm welcome and loving acceptance of people who reflected exactly what the love of God is; completely unconditional.” He remembers, “I never thought that I would be able to attend church again, much less, teach, preach or participate in communion. Yet Woodland Christian Church, a people who barely knew me, welcomed me, loved me, opened a place at the table for me and invited me, not only to worship, but to serve.”
In December 2014, the leadership and congregation voted unanimously to call Robert as Pastor of Woodland. Pastor Robert brings a passion for communicating God’s Word and for equipping every member of Woodland to fulfill their roles in ministry and leadership. In addition to the strong conviction that God still speaks to us through people circumstances and everyday occurrences, he believes God’s Word is relevant and understandable. As the Pastor, he constantly reminds us, “Everyone has a place to serve and everyone’s responsibility is important.” And so, he invites every person to participate in the life of Woodland. “Regardless of what journey brought you here, God has a place for you at Woodland.”
Jeff Richardson is a “hometown” boy, born in Tyler, raised right here in Longview. While earning a degree in Religion and Greek from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Jeff sidetracked into a 12 year radio career in Waco and Corpus Christi. “I was planning on being a Baptist minister,” Jeff says, “but I took a fork in the road.”
“ I firmly believe that everything I did along the way has prepared me for leading worship.” With over twenty years of leading worship in Baptist, Episcopal, ChristianChurch (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ churches, Jeff still relishes picking songs each week that enhance the worship experience of everyone who comes seeking to find God. “I believe worship music sets the stage for a worshiper to encounter God. The music opens a door for the Holy Spirit to work in a person’s heart.”
Jeff met his first wife, Lesa, and her son, Tito, in Waco in the mid 1980’s. They were married for six years when Lesa died of AIDS related illness. He then became sole guardian and parent to Tito. They moved to Longview in 1995. Tito has since grown up, graduated from Baylor himself, and lives in Galveston, Texas. He works in the business offices of The University of Texas Medical Branch. Jeff married his beloved wife, Donna, in 2002 in Port Aransas, Texas and they enjoy twice a year trips back to celebrate their anniversary and six month anniversary. Jeff writes songs, plays in local bands, leads worship at an Episcopal Church and at Woodland Christian church. “My greatest joy is seeing those who come to Woodland truly connecting with God in a way they couldn’t or haven’t before.”