Gulley was raised in Danville, Indiana, where he lives today with his wife, Joan, in a comfortable house with a welcoming porch. Many of his characters and recollections are taken from his boyhood in this small Midwestern town. Gulley attended Marian College in Indianapolis where he studied theology and sociology. He then enrolled at Christian Theological Seminary where he received his Master of Divinity in 1992. While in seminary, he became the pastor of Irvington Friends Meeting in Indianapolis and began writing essays for the church's newsletter. Paul Harvey, Jr. received those newsletters and shared them with a publisher. A few months later, the publisher invited Gulley to publish his essays, which became his first book, Front Porch Tales. He has been writing ever since. He has been Pastor at Fairfield since 1999.
Phil and Joan have two sons: Spencer and Sam.