NOLANVILLE — Growing up in Texas, Olton Phillips had always attended church but had no intention of going into the ministry.
But God obviously had other plans. Phillips is now the pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Nolanville, where he has served since 1989.
The pastor said he was influenced early in life by a maiden aunt who gave him his first Bible. He accepted Christ as his savior in 1975 and surrendered to the call to preach in 1976.
“(My aunt) must have had insight that I would be used for God’s purpose,” he said.
Phillips was born in Shepherd in 1944. When he was a child, his family moved to Houston where he went on to graduate high school and the University of Houston. Along the way, he met a young lady who would become an important part of his life.
“I met my wife, Linda, while we were in junior high, and we were married in 1969,” Phillips said. The couple had two sons and a daughter and now have seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Phillips served in the Army from 1969-70 and in 1976 took his first pastor job in Hubbard. “It was a good experience for a beginning pastor,” Phillips said. He later served as pastor at churches in White Rock and Temple before coming to Nolanville.
Northside Baptist Church began in the IGA plaza in Killeen many years ago, Phillips said. They relocated twice before settling at the present 35-acre Nolanville location on U.S. Highway 190 in March 2008. The church recently finished adding stone to the front facade of the 40,000-square-foot building, and now Phillips is remodeling his home.
“The one thing people know about me is that I have a reputation for never sitting still,” he said.
Phillips admitted that his personality is the one thing that hinders him most in his ministry. Besides being a pastor, he also is an accountant and tends to look at the “nuts and bolts, debits and credits” of life.
“Sometimes faith is hard for me,” he said. “I am a man of order and like things to be done well.”
The church logo “Reaching the World through Fort Hood” reflects the heart Phillips and his congregation have for military families. They are making plans to build a family life center and sports field adjacent to the church that they hope will help minister to those families, Phillips said. And every year the church has a special service to honor veterans.
Phillips credits his support team for the success and growth of the church.
“I could not be an effective pastor without the staff and congregation around me who are so dedicated to the church,” he said.
Marianne Kelley, church secretary, is one of those dedicated people. She and her husband and sons were originally from Tallahassee, Fla., but chose to remain in the Killeen area after her husband’s tour of duty at Fort Hood and in the Army ended.
“I look at my job as a ministry to the Lord and for the congregation,” she said. “I love my church family.”
Northside Baptist Church is at 800 U.S. Highway 190 in Nolanville. For more information, call (254) 690-6722.