A 2016 graduate from Hastings College (BA in Music, Organ) and a 2019 graduate from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University (MDiv), Phillip Johnson Clay has always been passionate about how music impacts worship services. His dad, Lance Clay is a pastor much like many family members before him and serves Hastings First United Methodist Church. When Phillip was 5 years old, his dad heard him playing piano by ear one Sunday morning, and enrolled him in piano lessons immediately. Phillip is a Licensed Local Pastor in the Great Plains Annual Conference and has spent time in pulpits of Atlanta, Ragan, and Wilcox, Nebraska, Wolfe City, Texas, and McPherson and Topeka, Kansas; he recently stepped out of the pulpit, however, to spend time with his husband, Casey Johnson Clay of Wichita, KS. Phillip’s passion for worship music and leadership began at an early age when his love for music locked in with his passion for people, and how both intersected in the life-changing moments of communal worship.
A reasonably strong improviser, Phillip’s organ music is heavily influenced by Louis Vierne, Camille Saint-Saëns, Charles-Marie Widor, and Olivier Messiaen, and his piano music by Sergei Rachmaninov, Claude Debussy, and John Adams. Phillip frequently arranges the music he uses for worship unless it is a specific piece for a specific purpose, each one chosen deliberately for the dialogue between the musical and theological statements and implications of the piece.