January 10, 2017
Born number five of six children to Irish Catholic parents, in Dallas, Texas, Gibbons grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the turbulent 1960’s and 70’s. When her father landed a job in Saudi Arabia, she attended her last two years of high school in an Ireland boarding school. She attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, with her siblings. After two years in Spokane, and a desire for more diversity and water, Eileen transferred to the University of Washington, Seattle.
She worked for the Channel Program (an AmeriCorps-like organization with Christian underpinnings) at the Wallingford Senior Center and then became a medical assistant for two years until she was accepted to UW medical school. “I did my residency at Providence Hospital (now Swedish Cherry Hill) and bought a practice right out of residency in 1997 in downtown Seattle. I've had my practice for 20 years come January. While I'm trained in Family Medicine, my practice has happily evolved mostly to reproductive and abortion care. I love working with and for women.”
Growing up Catholic, Eileen disagreed with many of their exclusions, so she searched for her own belief system. She discovered Al-Anon to cope with an alcoholic boyfriend, which led to a personal relationship with a ‘Higher Power.’ “I picture Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit in each one of us.” She found Bethany UCC and fell in love with the community. “While that community dispersed after 11 glorious years together, it will always be the first place I felt at HOME in church. It was the first place I felt like I could live my faith with a community of people who TRULY loved and cared for each other. I'm still searching for a spiritual community to call home and dig down roots in.”
A single woman who never met “Mr. Right,’ Eileen adopted her four-month old daughter through the Washington state foster system. “As she grows, I want her to know God and how to gain strength from Him, His promises and His community. I've searched a lot over the past five years to find a church… Plymouth has the best children programs, great community outreach and the best all-church retreat at N-Sid-Sen. Many of my Bethany friends, Charlie Torres, Atticus, Annie, the Gwilym family, even Kelle and Indigo moved here from Bethany. I have been singing with Durland’s Song Circle for a few years. It seemed natural to join Plymouth. It feels too big for my daughter. She feels intimidated by the size and number of people. After two N-Sid-Sen retreats, I decided it was time for her to learn to adjust and I let her know we would be going to Plymouth.” Eileen found their niche at the 9 am service. “It has all the beauty of Bethany services; small, intimate, creative and is one of the biggest reasons I feel like I can connect with folks at Plymouth. I also love having a black, woman minister! It means a lot to me. And while I miss an outdoor area for children to congregate and play, I love Plymouth’s downtown presence. I'm proud of Plymouth for letting Muslims and Catholics pray here.”
Eileen loves to sing, swim, ski, camp and hike, have animals and share community meals. “I still have a lot to learn about Plymouth and how to fit in. But I'm full of hope and I will do my best to bring my daughter ‘around.’ I look forward to becoming more involved in my new church-family. Thank you for letting me join your community!"