Bruce Gale

Minister of Music

Bruce joined us as our Minister of Music in October of 2013.  Music has been an important part of his life since an early age when he began playing the piano. For many years, Bruce owned Gale’s Music in Willimantic where he taught piano and sold music and musical instruments.  Bruce has recently retired after 20 years as a first grade teacher in Coventry.  He also is a hospice volunteer. Prior to coming to the Gilead Church, Bruce was the organist at St. Mary’s Church in Coventry for 26 years.

Stephanie Haines

Minister of Mission and Faith Formation 

Stephanie began serving as our Interim Minister of Mission at the Gilead Church in 2011.  In 2012 the position was expanded, in response to a long range visioning process undertaken by the congregation, to include Faith Formation.  Stephanie brings her background in counseling to this position and her ability to bring the gifts of others into the life of the church.  Stephanie is married to Jeff Haines and they have three children, Skylar, Gage and Tucker. 

Rev. Dr. Denise Esslinger


Denise has served as the Pastor of the Gilead Church since 1998.  Prior to coming to the Gilead Church, she served as the Minister of Education at Foster Memorial Church in Springfield, MA.  Denise went to Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, PA where she received her M.Div. in 1991.  More recently, in 2009 Denise received her D.Min. in Preaching from Chicago Theological Seminary.  Denise has a passion for preaching and for creating a sense of welcome in worship.  Denise is married to Phil Parizeau.  Phil has two adult children and they have three grandchildren.

Sally Fritsche

Administrative Assistant

Sally has been our Administrative Assistant at the Gilead Church since 2001.  Her professionalism, positive attitude and kindness keeps everything running smoothly at the church.  Sally is married to Buddy and they have two children, Amanda and Jamie.

Gilead Congregational Church

United Church of Christ