By Amy Robertson
He grew up in Winnipeg and started at Briercrest in 1999. Anyone who knew him knew he was intelligent, thoughtful, and a leader, and so he naturally stepped into a residence assistant position on Fender Hall in his third year. It was also no surprise that he moved on to college student body president the following year—that’s how most of his classmates remember him.
(Triscilla Harwood [Hartwig, College ’02] remembers him as someone a little more significant—they got married a year after he graduated. But I digress.)
What some people may not remember about Phil was what he planned to do after Briercrest. Tree-planting? Yes, you’d heard that. Something ministry-related? Oh, probably.
It’s true. He was planning to move to the Ottawa-Hull region—close enough to Quebec to brush up on his French, but far enough into Ontario that he’d be able to work in English if he wanted to. He was considering pastoral ministry in Quebec, and possibly a church plant.
And it all worked out—sort of. He and Triscilla got married in May of 2005, and they live in Ottawa. Triscilla, who has served Briercrest in a bunch of different capacities (in Health Services, Enrolment, and as the most recent Briercrest alumni will remember, as the Youth Quake administrator), landed a great job.
Having enjoyed her work at Briercrest so much, she knew she wanted to work for a Christian organization again, and she loved the idea of working with students. Fortunately, Trinity Western University’s Laurentian Leadership Centre was looking for an administrative assistant and conference coordinator.
Then there’s Phil. He works as a policy advisor on Parliament Hill—slightly different than pastoral ministry in Quebec (though admittedly, still very cool). He and Triscilla have even met the prime minister.
Phil developed an interest in religion, law, and public policy while he was doing graduate work at McGill University. So when an opportunity arose on the Hill in 2007, he went after it.
“Plans change, as we’ve learned!” says Triscilla with a laugh.
So for now, they’re confident that they’re where they need to be, and they’re learning about the richness of a life different than one in vocational ministry. They’ve developed “new perspectives on what ministry looks like in your average, every day, real-life situations,” says Phil.
Situations like small groups at church, which they help coordinate. (They also lead one.)
Situations that involve Triscilla’s other love—music. Having had the same piano teacher for 13 years, Triscilla knows the effect that kind of constancy can have on someone’s life, and she’d like to give some of that back. She taught for several years while in Caronport, and she’s working toward her grade ten in piano and has started to teach again.
Phil and Triscilla are also living the adventure of being homeowners as of March of last year, and (drumroll, please)…they’ll be expecting their first baby in the spring!
“Seeing God in the mundane is very, very necessary,” says Phil. “Being aware of what’s going on in very terribly unexciting things— there’s a richness in that.”
Richness, we believe. But maybe they’re not such unexciting things.