ALEXANDRIA, IND. – She grew up the daughter of a pastor. She attended high school in Clare, Mich. as Gloria Sickal. Of course, that was long before she became a renowned Gospel music songwriter, author, speaker, editor, and academic. Today Gloria is the wife of Bill Gaither and together they have written more than 700 songs.
“I love that Clare area. And one of the things I love about it is so many family businesses still exist. Many of the people who I knew from there who loved Jesus are still there and are still married,” says Gloria.
Gloria notes pastoring was not just her father’s duties. The whole family was involved.
“Pastoring was something we all did. We were all a part of it. I sat by many of the saints in the church as they died. It wasn’t just something my parents did; it is what we all did. I count that as one of the best blessings of my life.
“My mother was an artist. She was involved with many people in the community and that was a very positive experience. So, as a family, we have have some very wonderful memories of Clare.”
“I started a Bible club there in high school. The girls and boys who were a part of that club were very solid [believers] and are still in Clare running businesses. They are wonderful human beings. I looked them up when I came back. Those were the solid people; those who knew the Lord and were serious about their faith.”
“We loved the community. We loved the area.”
After graduation, Gloria went on to attend Anderson University in Anderson, Ind. While doing her schooling there, she also did some substitute teaching at a high school in Alexandria, Ind. It was here she first met Bill Gaither.
In his autobiography, It’s More Than the Music, Bill wrote, “I noticed an attractive young woman I hadn’t seen around the school before. Her eyes seemed to sparkle, and her blond hair gently grazed her shoulders.”
He soon introduced himself and a relationship began to blossom. Bill says he admired her artistic nature, passion for books and poetry, as well as her work ethic.
Of course, they eventually married and taught school together. While Bill wanted to write and perform songs, they needed a stable source of income. So, in their free time, Gloria and Bill wrote songs together and started their own publishing company, Gaither Music. It was through others singing their songs and meeting with others in the Gospel music field that eventually Bill’s dream became a reality. It launched creative careers for both Bill and Gloria, both separately and together.
In the years since, Gloria says what has really kept her going is her daily bible studies. “Asking God what is in a verse that you haven’t seen before. A lot of the songs we’ve written have come from rereading Scripture and finding a totally new revelation about it.”
“Songs just come from everywhere,” says Gloria. “From something a child says to something from a sermon to something we hear on the street or in a cafe. Those become what we call the hooks.”
One recent song, “Let it go,” was created during an interrupted Christmas dinner.
“I’m a question asker. About life. About people. About Scripture. About what I hear in sermons.
“One of the things that is really important to me is to not take Scripture out of context. Some of the worst things in the world have been done in the name of Christ because somebody took a verse out of context. The power of a verse comes out of the context it was spoken in.”
Gloria notes that is what keeps her faith strong. Always asking God to guide her with His Holy Spirit as she studies Scripture. She asks for His help in learning what she needs to know. It is through first understanding Scripture and then applying it to our lives that we can all grow in faith.
Follow Gloria’s blog at www.lovesongtomylife.com/blog .