Rev. Caroly Gibson: Zion’s Hill welcomes minister

The spiritual balance of the Methodist faith first attracted the Rev. Caroly Gibson to her church, and it continues to affect her today. 

“The thing I like, is the [Methodist faith] seems to have a balance between personal piety and an emphasis on experiencing God in one’s own life, balanced with a passion for social justice. It’s involved locally in matters of peace and justice. That’s a nice balance for me.”

Ms. Gibson is the newly appointed interim minister at Zion’s Hill Methodist Church on Danbury Road in Wilton. She will head the small congregation until July, when a more permanent replacement can be found.

The pastor has served in this role before, having led congregations in Fairfield, Greenwich and Milford. She initially retired from the Methodist clergy in 2005, but continued to lead faith retreats and offered guest preaching.

“I retired to have more time with my grandchildren, and to pursue guest preaching and leading retreats at the Wisdom House in Litchfield, Conn.,” she said, but soon enough the church was calling her back.

In the Methodist church, a bishop and a cabinet make appointments for leaders of local churches, but they make these appointments only in July, Ms. Gibson said. That presents a problem when a church loses a pastor after July 1, as was the situation at Zion’s Hill, she said.

“All the clergy move around on July 1, and if you’re caught in October and a pastor has to leave, you’re left with a gap. So [the church] asked: ‘Would you come down and be the pastor at Zion’s Hill from October to July 1 as the interim pastor?’”

For Ms. Gibson, the answer was a simple yes.

“I’m still doing retreats. I can’t guest preach anymore, but I still lead several groups that I have been leading for years,” she said.

Her own outlook on the Methodist faith, she said, is one that does not seek to promote its own idea of spiritual perfection.

“My theology believes there is truth in all religions. There is no belief that one is better than the other,” she said. “All religions have some truth about God. Methodism, like any tradition, is flawed. It has its positives and negatives.”

The positive aspect of the faith, however, is what she hopes will draw people curious about finding faith with Jesus Christ.

“We provide an intimate family atmosphere where [a new parishioner] could grow in faith and serve God,” the Trumbull resident said. “It probably isn’t different at other churches, but it’s somewhere they could do those things.”

Many Christian churches use the same scripture as others during weekly services, Ms. Gibson said, but the secret to holding a good service is properly reining in that material. The Methodist faith uses a few traditions to help promote the word of God.

“There is music, prayer, praise, and intercession, and there is always a sermon based on a scriptural passage. Making the scripture relevant to today’s world is a skill every ordained pastor should know,” she said. “There is always an offering for local expenses as well as missions. Once a month we celebrate communion, and the service always ends with a benediction and a call to go out and serve God.”

This final part of the service, the benediction, is one of the most important.

“It’s meant to say, ‘You come into a worship service to be built up and encouraged in your faith. To be strengthened and to go out and serve the world. Go to be spiritually fed, so you can go out and do the work! Care for the less fortunate, make sure you contribute to society.’”