‘St. William’—aka church pillar Bill Gliddon—turns 80!

[Aug. 11] A standing ovation for beloved about-to-be 80 years young Bill Gliddon concluded a joint St. George’s/St. Margaret’s Sunday service to honour not only Bill’s 57 years as choir director, but his role as a pillar of the community. The congregation then adjourned to the outdoors for the birthday celebrations, joined by many others he has touched over the years in thousands of ways.

Bill with one of the young Wisos [image thanks to the Highlander]

Bill with one of the young Wisos [image thanks to the Highlander]

Born and raised in Haliburton, Bill left briefly to study music, then returned to teach music locally. He continues to live in the very house he grew up in.

When the Anglican church needed a church organist, he took on the job—even though he has, he says, never taken an organ lesson in his life!

To quote from the Highlander’s article on the celebration:

Through his work with the church, Gliddon has forged hundreds of connections with people. Rev. Ken McClure said Gliddon is a pillar of the church.

Bill w Wendy Vermeersch

Bill w Wendy Vermeersch

“If there’s somebody who’s sick, he knows about it, he visits in a heartbeat. If there’s somebody that needs to drive somewhere, Bill’s going to do it,” McClure said. “He is an example of what every one of us should be doing and being in church.”

Gliddon also practices that altruism at home. He keeps a cooler at the front of his driveway, stocked with water bottles for people passing by.

Ever-engaging Bill

Ever-engaging Bill

“If you really follow the Christian example, you don’t think of yourself as much as you think of other people,” Gliddon said. “If you’re helping other people, it makes you happy because you’re making them happy. I think that’s the way. If the world was like that, it would be great.”

He said the event was not about him, but the whole community.

“This is what life is all about is being a family. And we are a wonderful family in this community,” Gliddon said. “We are so blessed to live in this beautiful spot.”

A revelation on the word ‘mass’ (whether you use it or not): we’re all to be missionaries

By Bill Gliddon, St. George’s Church organist and choirmaster

Do you know the origins of the word ‘mass’, as in the service celebrating the Eucharist, or Holy Communion?

The mass is the central worship service of mainline Christianity, and the word used in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, and quite often in the Anglican and Lutheran churches.

It derives from the very early days of Christian worship, when the priest ended the service by declaring, in Latin, “Ite, missa, est”, which, when translated into English, basically means: “Go, you are sent out”. So in a real sense, ‘mass’ means ‘mission’.

At the conclusion of a worship service in which we pray, hear God’s word, sing praises and receive the ‘life-giving sacrament’ ordained by Jesus at the Last Supper, we are sent back out into the everyday world to be ‘missionaries’!

A life filled with Life and song: that’s our Bill!

This year, Bill Gliddon marks his 55th anniversary as St. George’s celebrated organist. But anyone who knows Bill knows there’s far more to the man than organ playing.

Composer, teacher, radio show host, all-round good guy, Bill has played and continues to play a significant role in many lives and community events in the area. What’s not to love?

Born and raised in Haliburton, he became the assistant organist at Haliburton United Church when only 12. After graduating from the University of Toronto specializing in musical composition, he taught music in Haliburton County schools for 35 years.

Over the years, Bill has provided music for literally all of the churches in the Haliburton Highlands. In addition to preparing and hosting his weekly radio show, he’s involved in many concerts and stage productions. In the summertime, he tends a large vegetable garden on his property, giving most of the produce away.

Last year, the Reverend Colin R. Johnson (Archbishop of Toronto) officially recognized him as someone “whose light shines, whose works glorify” in awarding him membership in the Order of the Diocese of Toronto. The Order recognizes and honours those laypersons who have given outstanding service over a significant period of time in volunteer ministry.

“There are, I guess, three things in my life that I love so much, and they’ve motivated me and inspired me,” he recently told the Haliburton Echo.

“My Christian faith is the big thing, and my love of music and my love of this community—this community where I was born, grew up and love. If the Lord has afforded me to live here and bring happiness and joy through music, that’s my dream come true.” 

And that’s our Bill.

[You can read an excellent profile of Bill Gliddon by The Echo's Chad Ingram here.]