Giollo Kelly. This pioneering church worker became one of the first women elders in 1966 and one of the first Presbyterians to acquire a gift annuity in 1994.
Giollo Kelly was born in Ireland and immigrated to Canada as a young child with her family. The family settled in Saskatoon where they were active members of Parkview Presbyterian Church. A faithful Presbyterian throughout her life, Giollo served in various capacities from 1952-1991 for what was then known as the General Board of Missions for The Presbyterian Church in Canada. During her years in Toronto, she was a member of St. John’s Presbyterian Church where she was a member of the WMS Auxiliary. Giollo was truly one of the pioneers for women’s leadership in the church. She was one of the first women to become an elder in The Presbyterian Church in Canada when the members of St. John’s elected her as a member of session in 1966, and she received her Master of Divinity degree in 1982.
Giollo’s commitment to Christ’s mission extended far beyond her work in the National Offices and her home congregation. She coordinated the early Sunday morning worship services at Riverdale Hospital (now called Bridgepoint Health centre), regularly playing piano for the services and organizing the refreshments. She also served for many years on the boards of Armagh, which provides safe housing and care for battered women, and Mustard Seed International, the mission begun by Lillian Dickson when she and her husband James were PCC missionaries in Taiwan. In recognition and gratitude for her many contributions to the life and mission of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, Knox College awarded Giollo a Doctor of Divinity degree in 2006.
Yes, Giollo Kelly was a true pioneer, who never hesitated to lead the way, even in the way she stewarded her financial resources. She was one of the first annuitants in The PCC, acquiring her first gift annuity in 1994, soon after The PCC began to offer charitable gift annuities as a planned giving vehicle. She designated her first gift annuity for the Presbyterian Church Building Corporation; and she eventually acquired two more gift annuities, which provided legacy gifts for PWS&D after she passed away in February of 2008. The WMS was also the beneficiary of a generous bequest in Giollo’s will, part of which was used to pay the travel costs for international visitors to attend the first National Women’s Gathering, Reach In-Shout Out, held in 2011 in Richmond Hill, Ontario. And so it was that even after her death, Giollo Kelly continued to lead the way for women in the church! She was truly one of The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s ProVisionaries®.