The seventeenth-century poet and preacher John Donne reminds us that no one is an island. We are a part of the main continent, connected to one another. If you count the unusually high number of nominations that this faculty member received—from her peers as well as her students—you know that she cherishes connections to many people in the Gordon community.
Those connections are apparent in the volume of students who seek her counsel and who value her as a mentor. They are apparent in her conscientious efforts to write comments on essays and to craft letters of recommendation for scores of students. They are apparent in the prayer and support groups she develops for colleagues. They are apparent in the enthusiastic teams who choose to travel with her to study at Jerusalem University College. They are evident in the ways that her students are drawn to more earnest study of biblical literature and history.
With respect for her gifts, faculty entrusted the leadership of the Faculty Senate to her this year. I have appreciated working with her in that role. She has been sacrificial with her time in interviewing candidates. She has displayed a genuine interest in the personal welfare of several colleagues and been willing to shoulder the challenges with some difficult decisions. With attention to detail, she has diligently worked through the minutia of the handbook language and policies. With attention to principle, she has helped us affirm the difficult balance between scholarly freedom and Christian responsibility.
This summer, though, there will be some islands in her story. There will be the large island nation of Sri Lanka, where she will travel with Gordon students to teach, minister and work among people still profoundly affected by the tsunami. And then there is a small island among the Rainy River Islands between Minnesota and Ontario, a two-mile spot of land known as G10-80 for its topographical location. Sometime this summer you will find her there, on this undeveloped isle owned by her late father. It is a place that she speaks of often, a place full of memories, solitude and the beauty of Creation. For the many ways that she has celebrated the wonder of Creation and her love for the Creator, I am pleased to present this year’s Senior Distinguished Faculty Award to professor of biblical studies Dr. Elaine Phillips.