April 8, 1926 – November 2, 2010
Alene White grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of Court and Ruby White. During a citywide evangelistic campaign, the entire family became Christians. Alene was 11 years old at the time. As her family became active in the church, Alene sensed a desire to serve God in missions. She studied for two years at the University of Louisville, then transferred to Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky. Her membership with the Student Volunteer Movement helped foster Alene’s continued interest in missions. Alene went on to earn a master’s degree in Religious Education from Asbury Theological Seminary.
It was at seminary that Alene met John Gilmore. Before they were married in 1951, they ministered together as part of a group that held services at a tuberculosis sanatorium. Later they held services at the state reform school.
When the Gilmores applied for missionary service, they were advised to first gain pastoral experience. They pastored in the Genesee Conference for three years. Every month they called the missions office to say, “We’re still available.”
In 1954, they received an appointment as educational missionaries to the Dominican Republic. They left for language school in Costa Rica in 1955, with two small children, Rebecca and Phil, in tow. They were the first Free Methodist career missionaries sent to Costa Rica for language training. After language school, before they could begin ministry, John became ill with viral hepatitis. They were forced to remain in the U.S. for six months while John recovered.
The Gilmores arrived in the Dominican Republic in 1956, where they ministered primarily in Santiago. Alene taught in the seminary where John served as director. She taught Bible, music, Christian education, English, typing, piano – whatever was needed. She led an a cappella choir of more than 50 voices that toured the island on several occasions. Alene served as field secretary, conference women’s president, Sunday school teacher and also taught at the evangelical institute, located in Santiago. She was also a busy mother as their family grew to include Joanna, Suzanna and Marcos.
The Gilmores served until 1971 in supportive roles that helped strengthen the Free Methodist Dominican leadership. They considered it a great opportunity to be involved in training nationals in Bible and related subjects. They wrote in 1962, “For many years the Free Methodist Church has worked in the Dominican Republic and we ‘in the fullness of time …’ are participating in the harvest. We are glad that the Lord brought us here.”
Leaving the mission field for their children’s education, they continued serving the Free Methodist Church at an inner city Hispanic church in San Antonio, Texas, for three years. In 1974 they went to Winona Lake, Indiana, to begin their long service at the denomination’s ministries center. While John served in a variety of responsibilities for Free Methodist World Missions, including Director of Latin American Missions and eventually Director of Mission Personnel, Alene wrote for missions publications and served as secretary for deputation scheduling. In connection with her writing about missions, she kept in contact with Free Methodist missionaries around the world and visited Free Methodist works in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. She was also a general officer of Women’s Ministries International (WMI), serving as a general vice-president and then as International Promoter.
In all, John and Alene gave 42 years of service to the Free Methodist Church. They retired in 1994 and then moved to Greenville, Illinois.
Alene’s Colleagues Write
Colleagues of Alene, Dr. Doane and Ruth Bonney, write, “It is very difficult to separate John from Alene. In our minds it was always: John-Alene Gilmore. They were there in Santiago when we arrived in 1958 … a young couple, with young children and with similar ideas about how to get on with doing ‘missions.’ What a blessing it was then and what a blessing it has been across these more than 50 years! Ruth and Alene hit it off right away. Alene was Ruth’s best friend – always there for her, always with an encouraging word and with a good shared laugh. We were privileged to work as part of a team in the Dominican Republic for a number of years; then later we were together again in Indianapolis at what we called ‘Headquarters.’ Then, as a special blessing, these last few years in Greenville we have been working together again, on the Missions Committee, in the same Sunday school class, in shared small group participation. Our lives have been enriched through these choice servants of God.”