Being in ministry isn’t always about preaching, pastoring or church planting. For Phil Liberatore, it means representing godly values to the business community-or even running for Congress.
“Ministry is always about putting God first,” says Phil, summing up his philosophy as a “marketplace pastor,” ordained Foursquare minister and recent candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Phil is the president and founder of two financial-services corporations in La Mirada, Calif.-Philip L. Liberatore, CPA and IRS Problem Solvers. His clients look to him for counsel, correction, encouragement, laughter, even prayer, as they make life-changing decisions about managing their money and taxes. And as with any pastor, his office door is always open.
“My passion is to serve and help others succeed spiritually and financially,” says Phil, whose hearty laugh and relaxed sense of humor make a good combination for putting people at ease. “I’ve assisted thousands of people over the years in helping them overcome their financial challenges. As a result, they have become more productive in the kingdom of God-resulting in more giving and serving.”
Phil, 56, is as a longtime member of the Foursquare family. Currently he sits on the board of trustees at Life Pacific College (also called LIFE Bible College), where he received a bachelor’s degree in theology and a ministerial license. He also works with Oasis of Hollywood, as board chairman of the mentoring program for at-risk youth, and volunteers with several other community organizations.
He has served the last 29 years at Florence Avenue Foursquare Church in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., one of Foursquare’s oldest congregations. Phil helped lead the church as executive pastor from 1986-1988, but he’s rolled up his sleeves in other capacities, too. He’s been a teacher, led the church’s men’s ministries and sat on its building committee-which during the last 20 years has overseen a sanctuary renovation and construction of a Children’s Center and Preschool facility.
Earlier this year he took a major leap of faith to run against 12-year incumbent Gary Miller for California’s 42nd U.S. Congressional District.
“The call [to public office] became clear when I attended Stand in the Gap,” he says of the 1997 Promise Keeper’s event that drew a million Christian men to Washington, D.C., to intercede for the country. But it wasn’t until last year that he believed God was leading him to run in 2010.
In the June 8 Republican primary, Miller won with 48 percent of the vote, but Phil ran second with 38 percent and ahead of the other two candidates.
Was the result of his first-ever political campaign a letdown?
“We’re not disappointed,” Phil says, “I would do it all over again. I know God directed me to run, and the results are in His care. The opportunity to trust Him in this experience has been life-changing. Our lives have been enriched beyond measure, and we’ve made so many great new friendships and relationships. Truly, through this experience, God’s kingdom has become enlarged in our lives. Our relationship with Him has wonderfully deepened.”
Relief from the campaign demands often came from family time. Phil and his wife, Dana, who is also an ordained Foursquare minister, have two grown daughters. Lisa graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif., and currently is on staff at New Hope (Oahu South Foursquare Church) in Hawaii. Marci is a senior at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif.
With the election behind him, Phil is looking forward to his continuing Foursquare commitments and working on a book about his experience on the campaign trail, tentatively titled I Want My Country Back. He already has launched a companion website, liberatoreforliberty.com, to keep people politically informed.
He’s also gearing up for the launch in September of his new radio show about finances, politics and godly principles, as well as working on volume three in a book series about financial freedom. Titled How to Solve All of Your Financial Problems, it will publish in September and join the other books on the market, God Money & You and An Inside Look at the IRS.
Whether his ministry efforts apply to business, church or politics, Phil’s focus is clear. “I want to represent God and godly values,” he says.
By: Jimmy Stewart is a journalist and freelance writer in Orlando, Fla.