A former Presbyterian Moderator has paid tribute to one of the best-known ministers in the Church, the late Reverend Dr Gordon Gray, who died recently.
A funeral thanksgiving service for his life and work took place on Monday in Bushvale Presbyterian Church, Ballymoney.
The Very Rev Dr John Dunlop, who knew Dr Gray for many years, said: “He had a lifetime commitment to fostering inter-church relationships and he had a myriad of contacts within Ireland and internationally as well as being a member of the Corrymeela Community.
“He was a keen photographer and provided hundreds of pictures of the churches in Laurence Kirkpatrick’s book Presbyterians in Ireland: An Illustrated History.”
Dr Gray was ordained in Fisherwick Presbyterian Church in 1960. He was the first minister of a new church extension at Belvoir Park in 1963, and later became the Presbyterian Church’s first Youth Secretary in 1966.
He then served with great distinction as minister of First Lisburn Presbyterian Church from 1973 until his retirement in 2001, when he moved to live in Ballycastle.
Rev Allen Sleith, a former assistant minister to Dr Gray in Lisburn, said: “Gordon was a passionate ecumenist whose breadth of vision for the church was totally international, and like John Wesley, the world was his parish.
“During the Troubles his work for peace and reconciliation was self-evident despite the criticisms and dangers in such a vocation. He was also the Convenor of the PCI Race Relations Committee.”
On the 50th anniversary of his ordination, another former Moderator, the Very Rev Dr Godfrey Brown, said: “Gordon was a pioneer, always blazing a trail. His ministry was marked by innovation, hard work and his enormous courage which enabled him to do the difficult and often unpopular thing.”
Dr Gray was predeceased by his wife Margaret, and is survived by his widow Pat, sons Philip, Timothy and Jeremy, sister Marlene and the wider family circle.