Pastor Philip Wilyuka was born on 29 March 1957 at Maryvale Station NT to Paulus Wilyuka and Aldis Wari. After his mother died in 1964, he was cared for by his mother’s sisters Mavis and Dora (both deceased).
Baptised by Pastor FW Albrecht on 13 April 1957 at Maryvale, Philip attended primary school at Maryvale and secondary school at Kormilda College, Darwin. He also boarded at St Phillip’s College while attending Anzac High School in Alice Springs.
Philip’s father was ordained as a pastor in 1971 but was serving as an evangelist for many years before that. Because of his father’s influence, Philip also became interested in church work from a young age. Following in his father’s footsteps he attended his first Finke River Mission bush course at Ipolera in the late 1970s. He assisted his father in translating the first Pitjantjatjara version of Luther’s Small Catechism (printed in 1982) and also the Pitjantjatjara hymnbook (Nyiri Inmatjara), which was first printed in 1995. However, in the 1990s he took a break from church work, spending more time with his family and community responsibilities.
Philip was a master communicator, fluent in at least five languages including Yankuntjatjara, Pitjantjatjara, Eastern and Western Arrernte and English. His natural ability at language and his strong involvement in traditional cultural activities meant that he was often the obvious person chosen to organise and manage major activities in his community and beyond.
Philip was coach and manager of the Titjikala Hawks football team for many years, organising and managing football carnivals at Titjikala and other places in Central Australia.
Philip was also a good singer and guitar player who organised and participated in countless gospel singalongs and concerts in his community and others throughout central Australia. Along with his service and leadership of the Titjikala town council (now part of the MacDonald Shire), Philip’s organisation and involvement in these public events have helped keep Titjikala united and strong over the past 50 years.
The year 2007 was a time of massive change in Central Australia because of the federal government intervention and the Northern Territory replacement of local government community councils with the current much larger and more centralised regional shires. Because of these political changes and also the death of the resident evangelist at Titjikala at the time (Johnny Briscoe), Philip felt called by God, his family, and his church to take on more responsibility in his local church.
After completing the requirements for ordination, Phillip was examined by Dr Peter Lockwood of Australian Lutheran College (ALC) at the Hart’s Range FRM Bush Course in May 2008. He was ordained on 15 September 2008 at Titjikala by the president of the LCA, Pastor Mike Semmler. Philip served his local church and assisted in many other congregations in Central Australia for the next 11 years until his death in 2020.
Philip always said that the most challenging thing about being a pastor and a community leader was the immense pressure that is placed on people in these important roles. It’s no wonder then that his favourite Bible verse was Matthew 11:28, ‘Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’.
God give Philip eternal rest with those family and friends who have predeceased him in heaven.
Philip is predeceased by his wife Marcia Alice and his brother Haines. He will be lovingly remembered by his sons Darren and Roger, and his sister’s Joan, Annette, and Lisa, and his brother Andrew.
Pastor Rob Borgas is a former FRM Support Worker, now serving the Angaston Parish in South Australia.