Pastor Portraits: Rev. Phillip (Phil) Poe

I now realize that I have been around for awhile! I was born in August of 1947. My father, Paul Poe, had returned from WWII and married his high school crush, Margaret Oglesby. They took up farm life near Williamsville, IL, where four brothers and I grew up. I am the oldest son. Mom always wanted a daughter but it never happened. Anyway, Dad would have a lot of help!

Dad and mom were faithful church-going people and always volunteered for “church work.” This continued all through their long years. However, our home church was Arminian in doctrinal orientation. Growing up in that church I learned that the Bible is God’s Word, that Jesus Christ is the subject of the Bible and the focus of our faith, that I was a lost sinner, and that God gave His Son to provide a way out. At the time, I heard these things but just didn’t “get it.”

After graduation from high school, I left home in a state of religious rebellion and
joined the Marines. I wanted to live a courageous life and see the world. I got sent to Viet Nam. It was while there in 1969 that I became a believer in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord. My mother had sent me an unrequested box of Christian reading material including Peace With God by Billy Graham and a New Testament in Modern English (Phillips). Although I don’t know at what precise moment the Lord opened my ears to hear His call of grace, I certainly returned home a changed man, much to the dismay of my old friends.

The Nixon administration designed a very generous G.I. Bill for post-secondary education so I decided to go to college. I majored in Bible in a pre-seminary program. The institution (now Lincoln Christian University) was somewhat Arminian but more by default than commitment, as was I at the time. But gradually the Lord opened my eyes to the truth of sovereign grace.

During my college years I met and married Karen Salyer, who hailed from the Dayton, Ohio, area. Through our Bible study together we both ended up being Calvinists because the Book of Romans left us with no other arguments. Having felt the need and desire for graduate theological training, Karen and I prayed together for God’s leading. In 1977, God opened the doors for us to move to Jackson, MS, and attend Reformed Theological Seminary. By the time I graduated with a M.Div. in 1981, God had blessed us with our two sons, Justin and Nathan.

Over the years we have served independent, OPC and PCA congregations. I received the Th.M. degree from Covenant Theological Seminary in 2002. Prior to entering the RCUS ministry, my last congregation was in the PCA. I was not comfortable with the direction of my presbytery and by a stroke of divine providence I discovered the RCUS. I was called to pastor Harvest Reformed Church in Minot, ND. We have been here over 4 ½ years and it has been very pleasant to serve with this congregation. We thank God for leading us to a peaceful, unified, and Biblically faithful denomination found in the RCUS.

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