Melissa Wootton Phillips, 1961-2015

Meredith Flynn —  July 3, 2015

Melissa PhillipsSpringfield | A faithful and remarkable servant of Jesus Christ went home Thursday night. Melissa Wootton Phillips died July 2 after battling cancer for almost a year. During that time she continued to serve Illinois Baptists admirably in her capacity as Associate Executive Director of the Church Cooperation Team of the Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA).

“Melissa’s service to the Lord, and to the churches and staff of IBSA over the past 35 years, has been truly immeasurable,” said IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams. “Her professional competence and sacrificial work ethic were always wonderfully complemented by her sweet spirit and servant heart. Whether it was managing finances, personnel policies, our major building renovation, our IBSA camps, or a host of other operations, Melissa served IBSA tirelessly and with great integrity.”

Melissa is survived by her husband, Doug, and two daughters, Laura (who is married to Caleb Adams) and Melinda (who married Adam Holler on June 13), her parents, James and Mary Lou Wootton, and four siblings. Melissa and Doug have been vital and active members of Springfield Southern Baptist Church.

At her passing, Melissa is being remembered as a woman of great faith, a missionary heart from her upbringing as the daughter of missionary parents serving in South Korea, and for her contribution to Southern Baptist work in Illinois.

IB Family Photo

Melissa (far right) and her family, who served as missionaries in South Korea, were featured in a December 1974 issue of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

“While many of us at IBSA travel the state every week to serve churches, Melissa has been the executive who has made that possible by supporting and administering our work from the home office,” Adams said. “Executive Directors have come and gone, but Melissa has been a rock of stability and consistency on which our IBSA staff family and the churches we serve have always been able to depend.

“On a personal level, not everyone probably knows that in 2013, Melissa’s oldest daughter, Laura, married our oldest son, Caleb. So to me, Melissa became more than capable executive or even close work friend. She became family to my family, and our families are now lovingly intertwined. “So on many levels, and in many ways, I will miss her more than words can express. I believe we all will,” Adams said.

Visitation is Monday, July 6, from 4-7 p.m. at Staab Funeral Home in Springfield. The funeral service is Tuesday, July 7, at 11 a.m. at Springfield Southern Baptist Church, with Pastor Mike Keppler and Nate Adams officiating. Additional visitation time at the church will precede the service from 10-11 a.m. Burial will follow at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Springfield Southern Baptist Church Building Fund.

Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

14 responses to Melissa Wootton Phillips, 1961-2015

    Carol (Kendck) Leach July 8, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    I worked with Melissa many years ago, early 1980’s. Her husband and daughters need to know she was always a true Christian, a loyal friend and an example and encourager to me, in a tough time. She was never changing. And that was a really good thing. We can all rejoice in the lasting impression she molded in our heart. For me, I knew I could check in, and she would respond. And you need to know, she did indeed check in with me. I will always and forever treasure knowing her. And rejoice that we will meet again.


    Marti Bingham July 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    I was dismayed when I heard of Melissa’s death, but the memories flood my mind from the days on the third floor of the Baptist Building when Velma and Betty were a desk between us. We had good times! I remember her smile and her laugh. It was always good to see her at IBSA meetings.


    Stephanie Wolfley July 4, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    I knew Melissa ever since I was two years old at Springfield Southern Baptist Church. She was always a wonderful Christian mentor when I was growing up with her shining example. It was her love of missions and her stories of the far East that helped me to make up my mind to be an SBC missionary to the Philippines. It was a once in a lifetime experience. My heart felt sympathies to Doug, the girls, and all her family. I am most thankful that I will see her again some day in heaven.


    Ann Carruthers July 4, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Melissa was so special to us. We serve as IMB missionaries in Botswana, Africa. When we would come home for stateside, Melissa would always greet us with her beautiful smile. One day when we were packing our crate, she arrived in a van with many boxes, she jumped out of the car, to tell us that the WMU of Illinois had collected 200+ jars of peanut butter. She said, “We didn’t have peanut butter where I was an MK, so I think you needed some before you move to Africa!” Our heart aches because we can not attend the funeral, but we do know that one day, we will meet in heaven, where there will be no goodbyes. We are praying for the family as they say goodbye for now.


    Lisa Latham Waskosky July 3, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    I knew Melissa when we were children attending Fourth Ave. MBC in Kankakee. Deepest condolences to her family, I will especially be keeping Jim and Mary Lou in my thoughts and prayers, losing a child is the most difficult loss in life. What a wonderful family of Christ’s servants the Wootens are.



    Mourning/Celebrating the life of my friend and co-laborer in Christ Melissa Phillips. Melissa worked in my Department at IBSA from 2000 -2008 (Some say I worked for her) then she was promoted to my position as Associate Executive Director when I returned to local church ministry. I loved her laugh, smile, intelligence, and constant pursuit of excellence. She dearly loved Her husband, children and family; Her friends, work, truth, missions, church, women’s ministry, and at the pinnacle of who she was: her deep love and devotion to Christ as Lord of her life.
    We who know her celebrate her life and her rescue from this temporal existence into her eternal reward: HOME.



    In my church she has been a friend and leader of missions….for state, home, international. In my life she has been a dear friend and WMU missions supporter. She has been my special “MK.” In her home-going, my prayer is for others to walk in her footsteps of missions. We all need more of her passion, her strength, her commitment.



    I worked with Melissa several years at IBSA. She was always helpful and a joy to work with. May her family, friends and co-workers find peace and comfort in the Lord.



    What a wonderful sister in the Lord whom I had the pleasure of working with for many years at IBSA. May the Lord Jesus fill the Phillips family with peace during this time.
    KC Crino



    My heart is sad today at the passing of our friend, Melissa Phillips. Sad for her family and co workers , and those of us who loved her. But my heart sings with happiness as she is with the Lord and singing His praises for eternity.



    Reblogged this on Karen Jordan and commented:
    Remembering our friend and her godly legacy: ” … a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise” (Prov. 31:30-31).



    Remembering our friendship with Melissa’s and her godly legacy: ” … a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise” (Prov. 31:30-31 NLT).



    Oh so sorry to hear this. As an IBSA board member I have appreciated working with Melissa. As a friend, my family and I have valued the friendship. Our lives are richer for having known her.


    Janet Craynon July 3, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Words cannot express my sense of loss for IBSA and for me personally. Melissa’s short life was so remarkably well lived–in her work, in her family, in her church, in her friendships and in her faith. Melissa was my co-worker and my friend.