Coach Scott Phillips, who led the East Memorial Christian Academy to its first Alabama state playoff berth, was dismissed for going to the wrong church. The coach did not want to attend East Memorial Baptist Church.
Phillips had never been forced to attend the school’s affiliated congregation until he became the school’s athletic director. East Memorial Christian Academy’s athletic director was expected to attend the East Memorial Baptist Church, even though there was allegedly not an official clause in the contract requiring such attendance.
Phillips tried to make that work, getting his family to start each Sunday at a 9 a.m. service at East Memorial before attending an 11 a.m. service at his family’s church of choice, Church of the Highlands. Eventually that routine began to make Phillips feel dishonest, leading to a conversation with East Memorial officials where the coach and AD told them he didn’t feel comfortable attending Sunday services at East Memorial Baptist.
That was the last conversation he would have as the school’s AD.
“I was 30 seconds from turning the job down because of the church issue,” Phillips told the Advertiser. “They wanted me to transition from the Church of the Highlands to East Memorial. I never really liked that, so I went back in my administrator’s office and told them I was willing to give this a try, but I don’t know how this will work out?”
Phillips insists that he tried to shift his family from Church of the Highlands to Eastern Memorial Baptist, but said he never reached any level of comfort about the decision. Eventually, he had to deal with the situation head-on, hoping that Eastern Memorial officials would be reasonable about his faith.
That was apparently too much to ask.
“In a nutshell, I told them I miss my old church,” Phillips recalls. “I went in to share my heart to a pastor. Knowing what might happen, but kind of saying, ‘Maybe we can work something out?’ I knew that wasn’t going to be the end of it because it was going to be a process. It wasn’t received well.”