Serving in London helped Elder Alan T. Phillips to love and learn from all of God’s children

The newly called General Authority Seventy shares how focusing on the Savior has helped him show love and feel loved

Before video streaming, Blu-ray, DVD or VHS technologies came to be, many missionaries used filmstrips to share the story of the gospel’s restoration.

When Elder Alan T. Phillips was a young boy, he saw those film strips being used with their accompanying prerecorded soundtrack and the familiar “beep” that told the person operating the filmstrip projector to manually advance to the next frame.

More than the technology being used, though, Elder Phillips remembers the feelings he had.

Elder Alan T. Phillips, sustained as a General Authority Seventy in the April 2023 general conference. | La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días

“I still remember feeling something,” he said. “There was something about the Joseph Smith story, something about him seeing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and I remember it resonated with me.”

Those early beginnings of a testimony of Heavenly Father and His plan were nurtured by additional experiences throughout his life and included going to youth conferences, testimony meetings and other Church meetings in England where he was born and raised. Elder Phillips is quick to say that his testimony of the Savior didn’t come strongly until his later teen years, when he sought to have confirmation from the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ is his Savior.

He felt the Church was true from a young age. He had experienced feelings that confirmed to him the Book of Mormon and other teachings of the Church were correct, but he hoped for something stronger before departing for his mission as a teenager.

“I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to be testifying and teaching about Him. This is the focus. I need my own testimony. I need it to be about Him and to be real.’”

Elder Phillips took that desire seriously and attempted to gain a testimony just as Joseph Smith had.

“I fasted, prayed, went to the woods. I was looking for the big answer,” he said. And the answer would come — but not how he originally expected.

Months later, when his family was out of town, he went to church by himself and remembers singing the sacrament hymn.

“I wasn’t seeking. I was just there — reading and singing with the congregation. And for the first time, the words, the idea of His hands ‘pierced and bleeding to pay the debt’ (“I Stand All Amazed,” “Hymns” No. 193) for me — the words just jumped out and entered my heart,” he said.

“And I felt the reality of Him in relation to me, no longer a concept, no longer abstract. He felt in that moment like my Savior.”

Elder Phillips later prayed, thanking Heavenly Father for that experience and telling Him that he would be true to this newfound peace for the rest of his life. 

Other moments have confirmed that same testimony since then, but Elder Phillips says that was the moment that the reality of the Savior was confirmed to him, and that everything else in his testimony builds from that sure foundation (Helaman 5:12).

A family’s foundation in Christ

Elder Phillips’ wife, Sister Lindsey Phillips, isn’t from England. She was raised in a small coastal town in northern California in the United States. While studying at Brigham Young University, Sister Phillips took part in a study abroad program to London.

Entrance and Christus statue at the Hyde Park Chapel and new Visitors’ Center welcome people from nations around the world. | Simon Jones

While there, she and Elder Phillips met through a mutual friend at the Hyde Park Chapel. The two spent three days together before embarking on an 18-month long-distance relationship that involved extensive travel and hefty phone bills.

Both had family in Arizona, and the couple eventually was married and sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple in 2005. They started their married life together in London and have been there ever since.

“I certainly benefit from his testimony and his strength,” Sister Phillips said of her husband. “He’s really helped me focus my testimony on the Savior, and that’s been invaluable for me to not get lost in everything all around.”

Like her husband, Sister Phillips said her testimony really found solid footing when she was a teenager. While spending time with a friend in Ecuador, she found herself without the ability to communicate with her family and couldn’t attend church like she had at home.

“I started reading my scriptures,” she recalled. “I was in Alma 32:27, and it talked about experimenting upon the word.”

She said she knew at that moment that she wanted to find out if what she had been taught her whole life was true. And she did.

“As we look back at something that happened in our youth, it can seem trivial to us … but it was such a seminal moment to me, and I go back to that scripture whenever I have questions.”

Elder Phillips said going back to influential scripture verses like that has been helpful to him, as well.

For his foundation, Elder Phillips goes back to Helaman 5 and three lessons he took from Helaman’s words to his sons. First, Helaman asked them to remember to keep the commandments. Second, he encouraged them to do good. Third, he asked them to remember that it is only through Jesus Christ that salvation is obtained.

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‘Coral reef of humanity’

Sister Phillips said her husband’s desire for everyone to feel loved and cared for reflects who he is and what he tries to do.

“He really focuses on and cares about people,” she said. “People matter to him.”

Chris Cooke, right, greets Elder Alan T. Phillips, Area Seventy, at the Hyde Park Chapel building in London, England, on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. | Ravell Call, Deseret News

Elder Phillips said people matter to him because they matter to the Savior. One of his favorite scriptures is Doctrine and Covenants 6:36 where the Lord said, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”

Elder Phillips said this verse shows how the Savior was confident in the veracity of what He had done as part of the Atonement. And yet, He also maintained humility.

“The doctrine is clear. The Savior said, ‘Come to me,’ ‘Follow me,’ ‘Look to me.’”

Serving in the Church in London for more than 20 years has provided many opportunities for Elder Phillips to serve alongside different people who follow the Savior’s admonitions.

“London is the coral reef of humanity,” he said. “With all the many people, we have certainly learned and been strengthened by the vast experiences and perspectives of those around us.”

He said their stake has individuals from 139 different nations, and 80% of the stake’s membership are first generation members of the Church.

“Everyone is focused on Christ, on the Savior. The different needs, the different backgrounds are there. But they focus on Christ and on each other and trying to serve and it’s really a beautiful place as a result.”

The Phillipses said they felt strengthened by the members in London, particularly when Elder Phillips served in the stake presidency. From the members who shared traditional foods after church, to the love shown to their children by sisters who had immigrated to the United Kingdom, to refugees from various countries who passed the sacrament, the Phillips expressed their love for everyone they lived near and served with.

“If you’re a leader, sitting on the stand and they hand you the sacrament, and you look at their hands and you think everything that they’ve gone through,” he said, his voice trailing into tears. “It’s different. It’s a different experience.

“And then, you’re taken back 2,000 years to the same area, from the same regions, and you think about the first time that the Savior broke bread. You feel things.”

Elder Alan T. Phillips, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Lindsey Phillips, pose for photos at the Church Office building in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 3, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Elder Phillips doesn’t limit that learning experience to the different cultures or geographies represented in London. He also loved seeing how the different age groups worked together and served each other. As an Area Seventy, he had responsibilities with For the Strength of Youth programs in 30 countries in Europe.

“It’s a beautiful program, and the structure is great, and the training is great, and the leadership is great,” he said. “But the secret sauce is the young adults and the youth and their interactions.”

He said he was always moved by watching the recently returned missionaries bearing testimonies of the Savior to future missionaries and youth who were preparing to make covenants in the temple.

“They care. And you’ve never seen a generation like this,” he said. “They don’t want anyone to be marginalized or overlooked or excluded or forgotten.”

And that is part of what pushes Elder Phillips to be a “steward” of the restored gospel, he said.

“We’re making sure they see Christ and they understand the doctrine. But in terms of ministering, they’re predisposed toward it,” he said. “They will care and show concern for people in a way that we can’t even imagine.”

Map showing the location of Kent, England. | Church News graphic

About Elder Phillips

Family: Born in Kent, England on June 19, 1970. He grew up mostly around Buckinghamshire, England. He married Lindsey Lee Iorg in 2005 in the Mesa Arizona Temple. They are the parents of four children.

Employment: Worked for various organizations in business, finance and education — including spending the last four years at the Brigham Young University London Centre.

Education: Earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Church service: Former stake president, counselor in a stake presidency, high councilor and full-time missionary in the England Manchester Mission. He was serving as an Area Seventy and counselor in the Europe North Area at the time of his call.

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