Former NMI Director Phyllis Perkins Howard remembered

Nampa, Idaho

Phyllis Perkins Howard passed away 12 September in Nampa, Idaho, at age 83. She was a former missionary and director of Nazarene World Mission Society (now Nazarene Missions International), as well as a retired educator.

“Phyllis graced the office I now hold as global NMI director, and we feel her loss today,” said Lola Brickey. “Her unique gifts in education and her passion for missions and the stories of transformation have made a profound contribution. There are, no doubt, many around the world whose lives have been changed because she faithfully carried out her calling in missions, administration, teaching, and ministry.”

Born 24 February 1934 to E. B. and Velda Hartley, Phyllis grew up in Nazarene parsonages across Indiana, USA, with her two sisters. She attended Northwest Nazarene College (now University), graduating in 1956 with a Bachelor of Arts in business administration.

Phyllis taught at NNC as a professor of business from 1959 to 1962 before she was appointed as a Nazarene missionary. During her five-year term on the mission field, she taught business English at a Nazarene college in Japan. Phyllis returned to NNC as a professor, serving for six more years between 1968 and 1980.

In the summer of 1980, she became the first person elected as director (formerly executive secretary) of the Nazarene World Mission Society.

An educator at heart, Phyllis made significant contributions to Nazarene missions education during her tenure.

“It was my privilege as a member of the Global NMI Council to work with Phyllis and later to follow her as director,” said General Superintendent Emerita Nina G. Gunter. “She beautifully balanced love, learning, listening, and leading. Her unselfish commitment to the kingdom of God gave unwavering obedience to her calling.”   

She served in the position for six years, overseeing the global council, editing NWMS publications, and traveling across the U.S. to speak at conventions.

In 1984, Phyllis joined the faculty at Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while Jerry Lambert served as president.

“Phyllis came to NBC from her position as global director for NWMS and brought with her a wonderful sense of missions in education,” Lambert said. “A highly skilled and competent educational leader, Phyllis, even with her doctorate, was willing to go back into the classroom to complete her studies to be credentialed as a Nazarene elder. She led the way for many women who wished to enter the ordained ministry.”

Phyllis served as NBC’s academic dean from 1993 to 1997.

“She was a wonderful dean and a friend to everyone,” said Hiram Sanders, NBC president from 1994 to 2006. “She was extremely gifted, and it was a joy to work with her.”

Phyllis was known to many at NBC.

“Dr. Phyllis was a well-respected, much-loved heart of the NBC family during and after her time of service,” said current NBC President Harold B. Graves Jr. 

Phyllis continued her education at Oregon State University and Arizona State University, earning a Master of Education and a Doctor of Education, respectively. She became an ordained elder in 1992.

In recognition of her years of service to NNC and the denomination, Northwest Nazarene University recently honored Phyllis with the Wesley Order of Servant Leaders Award.

“It is not every day we meet a person like Phyllis Perkins Howard,” said Joel Pearsall, NNU president, when presenting her with the award at the 2017 General Assembly and Conventions. “Her commitment to God and her service to others is an example to all of us. Phyllis has spent countless hours mentoring, caring for, and investing in others locally, nationally, and internationally. Phyllis is a wonderful example of Christlike character and what it means to fully embody the mission and values of NNU.”

Phyllis was preceded in death by husbands Melza Brown in 1977, Floyd Perkins in 2008, and Quentin Howard in 2011. She is survived by numerous stepchildren, stepgrandchildren, and step great-grandchildren from the Brown, Perkins, and Howard families, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will be conducted at 1 p.m. 18 September at the Nampa, Idaho, First Church of the Nazarene. Visitation and viewing will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. 17 September at Nampa Funeral Home, Yraguen Chapel.

Memorial contributions may be made to Northwest Nazarene University Alumni Association, 623 S. University Blvd., Nampa, ID 83686.