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ECW sits down with Phoebe Griswold

By Susan Johnson
8/2/2003
[Triennial Today]  Phoebe Griswold has a deep concern for people who are suffering, a concern that has been with her most of her life.

Those attending the ECW Welcoming Dinner Wednesday were treated to a rare look at the life of the wife of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold during an in-depth interview conducted by Melynn Glusman.

Glusman, an oral historian from North Carolina, asked calculated questions that provoked insightful answers during the program following dinner.

Just before the start of the interview, members of the National ECW Board danced through the ballroom carrying chemical light sticks and singing “This Little Light of Mine.”

In the interview, Griswold also shared her fear of being in the spotlight. She said she understood how Mary must have felt when approached by the angel Gabriel and told she’d been selected by God. Mary has been a spiritual mentor to Phoebe Griswold as she has worked in the church and been “a woman in the pew,” a role she still claims.

She related her fondness for a parcel of land that has been in her family for 300 years. The property is home to her 90-plus-year-old mother and will probably not remain in the family, a fact that saddens Griswold.

Griswold talked about her childhood, her love of church and her experiences while attending girls’ schools. She also related events at Smith College, where she was an art history major, as well as her earliest days in New York working for an art gallery.

Glusman probed Griswold’s relationship with husband, Frank, during which Mrs. Griswold admitted her earliest impression of him was “he was much too English.” However, he kept taking her to dinner and a year later they were engaged, she said.

When her husband was elected bishop of Chicago, Griswold acquiesced to his accepting the position with the understanding that they would “never have to go through that process again.” Little did she know that they would be called to repeat the process in the not-too-distant future.