The Rev. Jeffrey Phillips is our acting senior pastor and designated-term pastor, serving through September 2024 (or longer) as WCC envisions its future.
Jeffrey grew up in Central Illinois and attended Illinois Wesleyan University, graduating in 1981 with a degree in international relations. He then studied at Harvard Divinity School and was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 1984. He has served twelve congregations and as a secondary school chaplain in Zimbabwe.
Jeffrey first came to Winnetka Congregational Church in 1999-2000 as interim associate pastor for education. He returned in 2017 as associate pastor for pastoral care and adult education. Since April 2023 he has served in his current role, guiding the congregation as head of staff and advisor to the church’s visioning process.
Jeffrey loves to be with people, provide pastoral care, teach, preach, lead worship, and help congregations grow. He is also a certified interfaith spiritual companion, helping clients one-on-one to name, explore, and experience their spiritual lives, no matter their religious background. Some of Jeffrey’s clients don’t identify as religious at all! He brings this broad spiritual perspective and an active spiritual life of his own to his service at WCC.
When Jeffrey was sixteen, he was introduced to Theravada Buddhism in Thailand, where he was an exchange student. This experience not only began a lifelong interest in Buddhism and world religions for Jeffrey but opened him to the truth that every religious tradition, including Christianity, is a rich source of meaning and wisdom. This perspective deepened even more as Jeffrey explored global Christianity and spirituality in Zimbabwe for six years (1988-1994) and when he was on sabbatical leave in India in 2010.
Jeffrey’s other interests include community outreach, children’s and youth ministry, and helping adults find a faith that makes sense for them.
Jeffrey and his partner Vince Summers have two adult children, four grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters. They live in Winnetka with their enthusiastic coonhound, Storm.