Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Co-Pastor
Limestone Presbyterian Church
3201 Limestone Road, Wilmington, Delaware 19808-2198
Office Phone: 302-994-5646
Church Website: www.limestonepresbyterian.org
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette grew up in a family that was, and continues to be, active in the United Methodist Church. She remembers being a very small child and standing on the pew next to her parents and brother in worship, holding a hymnal (before she could even read it), and trying to sing along as the congregation sang the beloved hymns of the Christian faith. Her father was a college English professor until he retired, and both her father and her mother encouraged her to love language and writing. Carolyn is grateful to her brother David L. Winfrey for his development of this web site of her hymns.
Carolyn was confirmed in the United Methodist Church and graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 1982. She received her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1985. Carolyn met her husband, Bruce Gillette, at Princeton Seminary, and was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1986. After graduation, they both served churches in New Jersey (Sussex, Andover and Hamburg) for about 19 years—first serving in separate congregations and then as co-pastors. Carolyn also has served as a hospital chaplain and a hospice chaplain. Carolyn started writing hymn texts in 1998 while attending Synod School, a summer church conference of the Synod of the Trinity of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Her husband Bruce has offered plenty of encouragement and support for her hymn writing, and the two have enjoyed working together to share Carolyn's hymns with others both close to home and around the world.
Carolyn's hymns have been sung by congregations in every state of the USA and in several other countries; they have been on national PBS-TV three times and the BBC-TV in the United Kingdom. Noel Paul Stookey of "Peter, Paul and Mary" made a music video with Emmy winner Pete Staman of Carolyn's hymn, "O God, Our Words Cannot Express," which was written on September 11th. Her hymns are found on the national websites of the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), American Baptist Churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Reformed Church in America, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, the Souper Bowl of Caring, the National Council of Churches and Church World Service.
United Methodist Bishop William Boyd Grove and Carolyn were commissioned to write hymns for the inauguration services for Churches Uniting in Christ.
Carolyn's latest book, Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor, was published by Discipleship Resources/Upper Room Books in 2009. This collection of 77 new hymns to well-known tunes celebrates biblical stories, the church year, and a wide range of church activities, from older adult ministries and stewardship to social justice and many other topics in between. Accompanying each new hymn is a meditation that can be used for personal, family or group devotions.
Carolyn's first book, Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship, is a collection of forty-five of her hymns. Her hymns are also in the new supplements for the Episcopal, Presbyterian and United Church of Canada hymnals. Circuit Rider, The Christian Century, The Presbyterian Outlook, Presbyterians Today, Horizons, Ideas! For Church Leaders, Church & Society, and other magazines have published her hymns.
Two of her anthems are published by the Choristers Guild.
Carolyn and her husband Bruce have been the co-pastors of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware since August 2004. They had previously served as co-pastors in Pitman, New Jersey, for ten years. (Pitman started as a Methodist Camp Meeting, and it is where "In the Garden" was first sung.)
They wrote with Dr. Freda Gardner the revised ecumenical guide for the popular Active Parenting Now (third edition). They wrote the study/action guide for Transforming Families (PDF file), World Communion Sunday (PDF file) worship-education resource, and the Christian Family Week worship and educational resource for the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Gillettes support efforts to care for God's creation—they have solar panels on their home and church. They have written A Journey Towards a Green Church (PDF file) (Call to Worship journal) and Shrinking Bills, Growing Membership (PDF file) (Presbyterian Women's national Horizons magazine).
They are the parents of three children (John, Catherine, and Sarah). Carolyn has led workshops around the country on hymns, church music, creation care and family ministries.