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PHILLIPS, (BISHOP) CHARLES HENRY

PHILLIPS, (BISHOP) CHARLES HENRY

PHILLIPS, (BISHOP) CHARLES HENRY (17 Jan. 1858-11 Apr. 1951) served as bishop of the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church (1902-46, see METHODISTS), founded and served the California-New Mexico-Arizona CME Conference (1902-40), and organized many CME districts and churches, sometimes called "Phillips Chapels." Between 1910 and 1932 his efforts helped raise the number of CME members in Ohio from 250 to 2100. Born a slave in Milledgeville, GA, he was the 10th of 12 children of Nancy and George Washington Phillips, a minister and farmer after the CIVIL WAR. First schooled at home, Phillips then attended Atlanta University (GA). In 1878 he was licensed to preach. He received a B.A. (1880), M.A. (1885), and a degree in medicine (1882) from Central Tennessee College in Nashville. Wilberforce and Wiley universities, among others, awarded him honorary degrees. Rev. Phillips taught school, served churches, and headed CME conferences in Tennesee, Washington, DC, Ohio, Texas, and Kentucky before being elected to the bishopric. He was a delegate to many general CME meetings (including one in Cleveland in 1896) and Ecumenical Conferences in the United States and abroad, at times the only CME representative or African American on the program (see AFRICAN AMERICANS). He was editor of the Christian Index, the church's official publication (1894-1902). Phillips spoke for TEMPERANCE and against segregation, claiming, "There is no color line in Christianity."

Phillips married Lucy Ellis Tappan of Tennessee (d.1913) on 16 December 1880. His second marriage, to Ella Cheeks of Virginia, took place on 28 August 1918. Phillips moved to Cleveland in 1921. He had 6 children, 5 by his first wife (C. H., Jr., Jasper, Carlotta James, Lucy Stewart, Lady Emma Conway) and 1 by his second wife (Laura Stokes). Phillips is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.


Phillips, C. H. From The Farm To The Bishopric: An Autobiography (1932).