The Reverend George B. Gilbert
The Rev. George B. Gilbert, Rector of the Church of the Epiphany during the 1930's and 40's, put Epiphany on the map with a recounting of his life as preacher and pastor in Middlesex County. His book was published in 1940. In it, he told his amazing story of pastoral care of hundreds of folks in the country during the Great Depression and afterward. It was published by Harper Brothers, which had published a successful book called Forty Years a Country Doctor. The company decided to publish another volume called Forty Years a Country Preacher and selected Father Gilbert from among more than 1,000 candidates across the country nominated to write the book.
Father Gilbert's ministry included feeding many who were hungry after church; because of the depression, many were in need of food. He was famous for serving pork and beans to people after church on Sundays. He used Epiphany’s good china dishes, much to the dismay of some of the ladies auxiliary! He also organized basketball games for the youth who stayed after church with their families. And he often threw in a free haircut to some of the youths as well. Father Gilbert would drive all over the county picking people up for church and bringing food to those who were hungry – often supplying food from his own garden.
Epiphany’s Outreach Committee used the model Father Gilbert began at Epiphany so long ago when members started the Community Supper program. Providing food, community and fellowship to those in the Durham, Middlefield and Middletown area is exactly what they hope to do in the 21st century - just as Father Gilbert did in the 20th century.
The Rev. George B. Gilbert and Church of the Epiphany Durham CT
featured in the July 24, 1939, edition of Life magazine. Gilbert was the
author of "Forty Years a Country Preacher," a memoir of his life in and
around Durham and Epiphany. The book is still available on Amazon.com.
Here's a picture of a meal being served in the Bp Williams room of Stew
made by Gilbert and salads and desserts provided by parishioners.
He talks about the first "community suppers" in his book
The baby being baptized bottom middle is Henry Blakeslee.