James M. Phillips of Hamden died on Aug. 2, 2012 at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Westborough, MA, from complications of a fall in June.
Jim was born on March 21, 1929 in Pittsburgh, PA, the son of Harry P. Phillips and Ruth McJunkin Phillips. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He taught history, politics and Bible at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea 1949-1950, until the start of the Korean War, when he worked with Korean refugees fleeing from the communist regime in the North.
Jim then attended Yale Divinity School, graduating in 1955, followed by a return to Princeton, where he completed his doctoral studies in Christian Ethics in 1958. He married Ruth Henning in 1957 and shortly after moved to Japan, where Jim was a Professor of Church History at Tokyo Union Theological Seminary from 1959-1975 and also served as a Presbyterian Pastor.
From 1975-1982, Jim was a Professor of Church History at San Francisco Theological Seminary, and then from 1982 until his retirement in 1997, Jim was the Associate Director of the Overseas Ministries Study Center, initially in Ventnor, New Jersey, then in New Haven.
His book, "From the Rising of the Sun: Christians and Society in Contemporary Japan," (1981), described the history of Japan's Christian community from 1945 to 1975.
Jim and his family traveled extensively through Europe, Southeast Asia and Central America, often staying with local families.
Jim was truly a "man of the people" and one of his greatest passions of his life was working with, and trying to help, people of all different cultures and walks of life. At the age of 76, he volunteered for three months as a chaplain in a hospital in Vellore, India. Until the end of his life he was always kind, always smiling, and thinking of others first.
Jim was very beloved by his family and large circle of friends in the New Haven area and around the world. He is survived by daughter, Catherine Phillips and her husband Stephen Erban of Shrewsbury, MA, Marjorie Phillips and her husband Stephen Carrig of Mexico City, Mexico, 3 grandchildren: Benjamin, Joshua and Patricia, and a number nieces and nephews.
Calling hours will be held on Aug. 25 from 10 - 11 a.m. with a funeral service to follow at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of New Haven (www.fpcnh.org), 704 Whitney Ave., New Haven.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of New Haven or to the Overseas Ministry Study Center (www.omsc.org), 490 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511. Arrangements are with the Hawley Lincoln Memorial, 493 Whitney Ave., New Haven.