Rev. Dr. Phillip Hewett, minister emeritus of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, died February 24 at age 93. Born and raised in villages near Dorchester, England, he served in the R.A.F. during World War II. He studied at Exeter College and Manchester College, Oxford University (B.A., 1949, M.A., 1951) and the Harvard Divinity School (S.T.M., 1953). He received the S.T.D. from the Starr King School for Ministry in 1969. In 1951 he married Margaret Smith of London, England. He served churches in Montreal, Quebec (1953-54); Ipswich, England (1954-56); Vancouver, British Columbia (1956- 91); and Victoria, British Columbia (1991-92). He also served for short terms congregations in St. Catharines, Ontario, Adelaide, South Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand. )
Rev. Hewett was president of both the British and Canadian Unitarian Historical Societies and vice president of the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society. He also served three terms on the board of the Canadian Unitarian Council, and contributed to the Canadian Encyclopedia and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. He was also active in the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF). In 1983 the American chapter of IARF presented Phillip and Margaret Hewett a joint award for Outstanding Service to International Liberal Religion. In 1992 he was given the Unitarian Universalist Association annual award for distinguished service. Rev. Hewett made six trips to the Unitarian movements in Poland and ten to Romania, both beginning in 1969. He was a strong advocate for the environment, family planning, disarmament, and peace. In 1972 he first spoke about acceptance of gays, and subsequently officiated at several same-sex unions (the issue of same-sex marriages emerging after his retirement). He prepared about 1,200 sermons, and officiated at about the same number of weddings, and close to the same number of memorial services. His hobbies were hiking, climbing and gardening, and he also enjoyed music. Rev. Hewett was father to Barton and Daphne and had four grandchildren.
On the occasion of his ninety-third birthday February 10, ministers from Vancouver-area Unitarian congregations presented Rev. Hewett with a commemorative booklet containing this biography, tributes, and a selection of his sermons. The full booklet, with credit to Stanley Tromp, can be found here.