Written by Gregg Brekke
Phil Campbell, a UCC pastor serving the ecumenical Northern Light United Church in Juneau, Alaska, is joining with other Phil and Phyllis Campbells across the globe to help a small Alabama town that shares their name to rebuild after an April 27 tornado that took 26 lives and destroyed a third of the town.
Building on the coincidence of their common names in order to draw attention to the town's plight, the Phil Campbells are working with Alabama Habitat for Humanity to raise $70,000 for a Phil Campbell Habitat House.
Prior to the tornado, plans were underway for Phil Campbells from as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom to descend upon Phil Campbell, Ala., June 17-18 to help the town celebrate its 100th birthday. Phil Campbells previously gathered in the town in 1995 for the first "Phil Campbell Convention." Juneau pastor, Phil Campbell, then serving a church in Denver, Colo., was one among the 22 Phils and one Phyllis in attendance. He had not planned to return this year before the tornado struck, but with the encouragement of the Northern Light congregation he will now go, taking with him over $2,000 the church has raised to support the Habitat House.
Phil Campbell, the town, has decided to go ahead with the gathering as sign of hope that it will rebuild and that it has a future. In addition to "Juneau Phil," Phil Campbells from the United Kingdom, Australia, and across the United States will be the marshals in the town parade and will formally announce plans for the Habitat House.
"With spring storms cutting a wide path of destruction through the United States, there are no shortages of places that need help," said Campbell. "UCC Disaster Ministries coordinates UCC response, but if you are led to contribute to this personalized effort you can join the world's Phil Campbells and declare, 'I'm with Phil,' by donating to the Habitat House."
Donations may be made online or sent to Alabama Habitat For Humanity, PO Box 1488 311 N College St., Auburn, AL 36831, designated "Habitat House for Phil Campbell."