This blog exists as a way to celebrate the incredible faith community in Plymouth, Minnesota called St. Philip the Deacon — a vibrant and dynamic congregation in the western suburbs of Minneapolis with an uncommon and unusual name. To our knowledge, there are only three churches in the United States that take their name from this Biblical character — prompting the question: Who was St. Philip the Deacon anyway?
St. Philip the Deacon was selected as a deacon — someone chosen to look after the poor in the early Christian church — with six others in Acts 6. St. Philip also appears in Acts 8, where he interprets and explains a passage from the Prophet Isaiah to a servant of the Queen of Ethiopia. This is depicted above in a detail from an Icon of St. Philip the Deacon by artist Ann Chapin, commissioned in celebration of the church’s 50th anniversary in 2008.
This story about St. Philip from Acts 8 is, in fact, where St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church gets its mission statement — to Reach Out, Proclaim, Inspire — since St. Philip reached out to the Holy Ethiopian when he didn’t understand the Prophet Isaiah; proclaimed to him what the passage meant; and inspired him to go and serve God himself by baptizing him. To this day, Ethiopians remember both St. Philip the Deacon and the Holy Ethiopian, recognizing that Christianity was brought to the country as a direct result of the encounter between these two men.
You can learn more about St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church and its ministries in the video below, or by visiting spdlc.org. For another take on St. Philip the Deacon’s mission statement, read this.