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Oaklawn physician Teleah Phillips delivers MLK message

Albion’s MLK Jr. Day speaker calls for passion-driven service to others

ALBION – “It’s so important for us to be clear about what we’re passionate about, because your passion should drive your service.”

Teleah Phillips’ words were addressed to area residents who attended Monday’s observation of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Dialogue and Service, beginning with a gathering in the auditorium at Washington Gardner School.

As the day’s keynote speaker, Phillips applied many of the late civil rights leader’s inspirational words to urge her audience to lead fulfilling lives of service to others – “despite who they are, what they look like or where they come from.”

Inspired by King’s legacy, Phillips said true service happens when one accomplishes something that satisfies the “me” of personal desires while helping the “we” of community needs.

“You can’t have the ‘me’ without the ‘we’ and you can’t have the ‘we’ without the ‘me,’” she said.

Phillips challenged audience members to describe their passions, and received multiple replies that included reading, working with children, art, gardening, education, music and working with the community.

During a series of examples and exercises, Phillips then demonstrated how cooperative action could be harnessed so such wishes could be turned into goals, and produce a positive impact on the well-being of others.

“The only prerequisites for service,” she said, “are a heart full of grace and a soul full of love.”

The event, which included breakout discussions, a meal and a service opportunity assisting Battle Creek-based S.A.F.E. Place, was sponsored by Albion College.

Phillips, a native of Flint, is a graduate of Albion College and a family-practice physician who joined the Oaklawn Medical Group in 2016. She served two years as associate director of the Albion Health Care Alliance.

The mother of five children, Phillips also serves as an ordained itinerant deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She ministers in partnership with her husband, the Rev. Donald L. Phillips III, pastor of Lewis Chapel AME Church in Albion.

Phillips was introduced by Mauri Ditzler, president of Albion College, who described Phillips as his physician as well as his minister, and by Keena Williams, associate dean and president’s special advisor for global diversity at Albion College Williams, who is an Albion native, also is director for Build Albion Fellows.

A connected event will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 30, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation and Community Celebration will be held at the Bohm Theatre in downtown Albion, featuring Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley.