After interesting and varied careers as high school history teacher, office manager/paralegal, registered lobbyist in DC and ecclesiastical history professor for twenty years at academic institutions both in the US and in Europe, Phyllis completed her career as the John F. Loftis Professor of Church History at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Now she enjoys free-lance preaching and teaching in local congregations and a regular worship leadership position with Lakewood Retirement Community.
In all that she does, her focus is thinking historically in order to participate in creating the future. As one friend said, she is a historian of the future — neither trying to recreate the past nor idealize the past, but use the past to build on and point to the future. Particularly she is attuned to how religious organizations can exhibit characteristics of dementia when they experience dislocation in their context. What she enjoys in preaching and teaching is the imaginative integration of aspects of reality; thus her “connecting history, dementia, leadership, organization, religion, baseball and rock music” motto.
Phyllis was born in Louisville, KY, while her parents were enrolled at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She grew up in Bon Air Baptist Church where her father, Dr. Phillip E. Rodgerson, was the founding pastor and her mother, Bernice M. Rodgerson, established the church music program. Her education was: Huguenot High School, Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia (BA), University of Virginia (MEd), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv, PhD). She was in her 30th year of marriage to Conrad N. Pleasants when he died. Five years later she married her high school sweetheart, John E. Tessieri, Jr. Historians are incorrigible – her entire life history is in her name!
Feast is Friday, May 5, 2017, 3-8p at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond, VA. Won't you join us?