Resident Spotlight: Philip & Pat Slate


It is unusual for a person to decide as a teenager what his mission in life is to be. At the age of 16, Philip Slate knew he wanted to become a preacher of the Gospel. When he met Patricia (Pat) Finch, he found her to have a strong faith with similar goals. Together, they have served 72 years in mission work and teaching, and Philip is continuing that work. According to Philip and Pat, “Our work with churches, our experiences, and our family have given us a rich and full life.”

Pat Slate was born in Old Hickory, Tennessee. Her only sibling was an older brother. When she was born, Pat says, “My brother wanted a brother but got me instead. Because my father had died when I was 15, I asked my brother to ‘give me away’ at my wedding. His response was, ‘Yes, I’ve wanted to give you away ever since you were born!’ ” 

Pat attended the DuPont schools in Old Hickory and was a cheerleader, active in drama, and an honor student. She chose to enter David Lipscomb College (now University) following graduation. It was there she met Philip Slate, a junior, on a blind date.

Philip Slate was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the oldest of three brothers. His father worked on road construction, so the family moved often. Philip reports that during his first year of school, he attended five schools in three states! There were other moves and different schools, mostly in the mountainous areas of East Tennessee. Philip says he enjoyed the country living, camping, hiking in the hills, and swimming in the water hole made by “damming” up a creek. He played baseball and basketball, learned boxing, and qualified to become a lifeguard. The family moved near Nashville, Tennessee, just in time for Philip to enroll in David Lipscomb College for high school and college. 

While in high school, Philip continued to play some sports, even boxing one year in the Nashville City Tournament. He began scholastic debating, which continued for five years while at Lipscomb, and preached at every opportunity. As a Speech major in college, he continued preaching each Sunday at a rural church. When he and Pat began seriously dating, she would accompany him on Sunday with her mother’s approval. “Most of our dating,” according to Philip, “was confined to group activities, and the time together on Sunday allowed us to know each other better.”

When Philip graduated from college, he and Pat married and moved to Wichita, Kansas, for Philip’s first pulpit position. “It was a wonderful church, and we loved the Midwest,” says Philip. During the years there, they welcomed their first daughter, Karen Marie.

Returning to Tennessee, Philip enrolled in Harding School of Religion(now Theology), earning a master’s degree. Then in 1961, the Slates were asked to go to London, England, to plant a church. They remained there for 10.5 years. Another daughter, Carla Joan, and a son, Carl Philip, were born there. Pat was involved by teaching classes and directing the Bible correspondence program. Philip was accepted to Oxford University where he did his doctoral research toward a Doctor of Missiology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1975.

In 1972, the Slates returned to Memphis when Philip was invited to teach at Harding School of Religion. He would remain in that position for 21 years while he and Pat would also teach and minister to five different churches of Christ during that time. Philip describes those years as “very rewarding.” Pat’s classes on “Fascinating Womanhood” were taught in many churches. In 1983, Pat surprised everyone by deciding to try sky diving. “It was exciting, but once was enough,” says Pat.

The last six years of Philips academic career were as Chair of the Missions Department of Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. Following his retirement, he and Pat served as mission trainers, consultants, and encouragers in both the United States and abroad. As a result of their mission work, Phillip has visited 40 , and Pat has visited 25!

Regarding their work, Philip has this to say: “God opened many doors for us to serve. The best positions were those we did not seek.” Philip has also served by authoring or co-authoring six books and many articles.

The Slates at their wedding
Wedding Day

The move to Memphis was the Slates’ final move and became home. All of their family live in Tennessee, which now includes eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. The move did not really mean retirement for Philip. He continued to serve churches wherever he and Pat lived, and he continues since moving to Kirby Pines through Zoom and e-mails.

In 2021, the Slates moved to Kirby Pines because they recognized the advantages and knew many people here. “We enjoy the amenities,” states Philip, “but we also enjoy conversations with the diverse and interesting people who live here.” 

Due to Pat’s health, her activities are limited. However, Philip says he enjoys the Oasis, attending Bible groups, and classes. They worship at Germantown Church of Christ where Phillip serves in many areas. He has served as speaker for Vespers on occasion. Philip has found the Bistro an interesting place to meet others, and he loves walking around our beautiful campus. “The flowers and trees help to create a nice ambiance in this place,” says Philip. Both he and Pat agree, “Moving to Kirby Pines was the right move for us.” 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.