L to R: Evelyn Whyte (Deaconess), The Rev Dr. David Irwin (Minister Emeritus of McCracken Memorial Presbyterian Church), Mr. Perry Reid (Clerk of Session), Dr. Gordon Gray, Mrs. Margaret Gray, Mrs. Irene White (wife of former Clerk of Session, the late Mr. Norman White), The Very Rev Dr. Godfrey Brown (Minister Emeritus of Ballycastle Presbyterian Church) and the minister. the Rev John Brackenridge.
A SPECIAL service to mark the 50th anniversary of the Ordination of the Rev Dr. Gordon Gray, Minister Emeritus of First Lisburn Presbyterian Church, was held on Sunday morning.
The service was led by The Very Rev Dr. Godfrey Brown, Minister Emeritus of Ballycastle Presbyterian Church. Deaconess Evelyn Whyte gave the call to worship; the Rev John Brackenridge gave the children's address; Jen Simpson led the children's praise; Karin Finlay read the Scripture lessons; and The Rev Dr David Irwin, Minister Emeritus of McCracken Memorial Presbyterian Church, Belfast, preached the sermon on the topic - 'Who and what is so special today?'
The Rev Robert John Gordon Gray was licensed in Fisherwick Church, Carrickfergus on December 7 1960. After serving as the General Assembly's Youth Secretary (1966 - 1973) and previously as minister of Belvoir Park Church Extension Charge (1963-1966), he was installed in First Lisburn on June 27 1974 in succession to the Rev William Boyd who was minister from April 1950 to December 1972. Dr. Gray retired in March 2001.
Mr. Perry Reid (Clerk of Session) and Mrs. Irene White (wife of former Clerk of Session, the late Mr Norman White) presenting gifts to Dr. & Mrs. Gray.
Dr. & Mrs. Gray pictured with their son Philip and his partner Rowan Ellis.
In his address at the service, Dr. Godfrey Brown paid tribute to Dr. Gray.
He said: "Gordon was always a pioneer, always blazing a trail. His ministry was to be marked by innovation, by hard work, and by enormous personal courage that enabled him to do the difficult and often the unpopular thing.
It would have been tempting for him to have moved away from Ireland, and there is no doubt there would have been the warmest of welcomes for him elsewhere. But no. Gordon felt that this is where God was calling him to bear his witness, and here he stayed.
"But Gordon's heart was not only in Ireland — it was quite simply First Lisburn. He was immensely proud to be Minister of this congregation. Wherever he went, he talked about this Church, and about its people for whom he had such a profound regard and affection.
"You know far better than I do how he loved this place, and worked so tirelessly as a pastor and a preacher, sharing in your joys and sorrows, your disappointments and your hopes.
"He is a big man and a strong man, but he is also a gentle man, a loving man, and I know there are not a few members of this congregation who could pay tribute today to how his strength and gentleness enabled them to face up to the sorrows and troubles of life with a new confidence and hope assured of the love and power of Christ."
Tom Whyte, Director of Music, presided at the organ and together with the Church Choir led the congregational hymns which included, 'Who is on the Lord's side'. The anthem was 'With a male voice singing' by Martin Shaw.
During the service Mr. Perry Reid (Clerk of Session) and Mrs. Irene White (wife of former Clerk of Session, the late Mr. Norman White) made presentations to Dr. & Mrs. Gray after which a delightful lunch was served at a reception in the Church Hall.