Cartledgehayes, Mary 1949-

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Born 1949, in Sandusky, OH; daughter of Douglas (a farmer and pilot) and Joanna Belle (a doll artist) Cartledge; married; divorced twice; children: two daughters. Education: University of South Carolina Spartanburg, B.A., 1983; Duke University, M.Div., 1994; Goucher College, M.F.A. (creative nonfiction), 2000. Religion: United Methodist.


Home—600 Crystal Dr., Spartanburg, SC 29302. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer; ordained United Methodist minister, 1997; pastor of Gravely Memorial United Methodist Church, Spartanburg, SC, 1995-98. Served as director of mentoring program for Creative Nonfiction Foundation; currently writer-in-residence, World Connections for Women, Morgantown, NC.


Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus, Authors Guild, National Federation of Press Women.


Jameson Jones Award, Duke University, for excellence in preaching; Outstanding Alumni Award, University of South Carolina Spartanburg, Arts & Sciences, 1996.


To Love Delilah: Claiming the Women of the Bible, LuraMedia (San Diego, CA), 1990.

Grace: A Memoir, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to Ms., Christian Science Monitor, and other denominational publications. Contributor to anthologies, including The Abingdon Women's Preaching Annual and The Wisdom of Daughters: Two Decades of Christian Feminist Writing.


A sequel to Grace; a book on preaching; a book (with co-authors) on the Church's role in peacemaking.


Mary Cartledgehayes is an author and ordained minister of the United Methodist Church. After divorcing twice and living in poverty, Cartledgehayes had a conversion experience that dramatically changed her life. In her book Grace: A Memoir, she recounts that while driving in her gold Chevette, "a shaft of gold light bathed me in luminescence, and I could see each individual ray of gold even while the rays were surrounding me and containing me." Despite the impact this experience had on her, it took Cartledgehayes ten years to discover that she was being called to a ministry in the church.

In 1992 Cartledgehayes enrolled in Duke University's Divinity School, where she gained valuable information about herself and the church, but also faced resistance for being female. Despite discrimination from some fellow seminarians, Cartledgehayes won the Jameson Jones Award for excellence in preaching. Before her time at Duke, she published her first book, To Love Delilah: Claiming the Women of the Bible.The book is about seven women of the Bible, including Eve and Mary Magdalene, who were considered problematic. After graduating from Duke, Cartledgehayes began to minister at the Gravely Memorial United Methodist Church.

Many of the stories in Grace take place during Cartledgehayes' stay at Gravely. Grace also includes accounts of Cartledgehayes' childhood, education, family life, and ministry. A critic for Publishers Weekly extolled the book because it "demonstrates a poetic mastery over language and breaks open stereotypes about Methodists, ministers, feminists, grandmothers, musicians, and all other roles Cartledgehayes embodies."

Cartledgehayes has been praised for her preaching skills, and she recreates sermons she has delivered to her congregation in Grace. Marta Salij of the Detroit Free Press explained that "what you really need to know about Cartledgehayes is that she adores being on stage, so much that the chapters on her pastoring are literally preachy." Salij noted that the book falls short in some areas, especially when it comes to Cartledgehayes' lack of details about her congregation. Salij also said that the author's writing is "vivid and anecdotal" until she introduces the reader to her parishioners. After this, Salij noted, her writing "goes flat, as if her attention had wandered while she was mentally rewriting her next glorious oratory."

A reviewer for Booklist commended Cartledgehayes, saying that her personality succeeds in "making this most unusual memoir by one of the most memorable recent memoirists, funny, earthy, and poignant." In an interview with the University of South Carolina, Spartanburg's University Review, Cartledgehayes explained her reasons for writing Grace: "My life has been anything but ordinary and this book bounds together my life, theology training, and writing skills. It is more complex, beautiful and funny than anything I could have imagined writing twenty, ten, or even five years ago."

While her ministry is a central focus of her life, Cartledgehayes makes it clear that time spent with her husband and grandchildren is just as important as the time spent at the pulpit.



Cartledgehayes, Mary, Grace: A Memoir, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.


Booklist, February 15, 2003, June Sawyers, review of Grace: A Memoir, p. 1020.

Detroit Free Press, April 20, 2003, Marta Salij, "Looking Upward, but Not Inward."

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of Grace: A Memoir, p. 122.

Publishers Weekly, March 3, 2003, review of Grace: A Memoir, p. 70.

University Review, fall 2002, "Mary Cartledgehayes," p. 2.