When more than 20 victims “came out of the closet” in 2006 and declared they were “French-kissed” in the pastor’s office, at camp, etc., the media and the authorities got involved. Pastor Bob Gray was arrested in May of 2006 and is awaiting trial.
Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville has enough problems but I am beginning to think they are self-inflicted. Could there be an overwhelming death wish in the leadership? Are they committing suicide in a slow, deliberate manner? Maybe the people in leadership are very gullible and shallow people? Or could the leadership be dumb, super dumb people? Maybe it is a spiritual matter and lack of Scriptural knowledge? Maybe it is all the above!
Some reasons indicating Trinity’s problems are of their own making:
*They called Bob Gray as pastor in 1954 without checking out his background. Not too smart, but then remember the times.
*The pastor hugged and kissed little girls at the church and at camp over decades with impunity.
*Numerous questions were raised by various people over the years but “the king could do no wrong.” It was sacrilegious to even suggest that impropriety was taking place. “After all, look how God is blessing.” One Gray supporter even told me of him preaching then lying on the platform weeping for people to trust Christ. Could such a man molest little girls? Well, if I had been French kissing little girls for decades, I would be lying on the floor weeping as well.
*When more than 20 victims “came out of the closet” in 2006 and declared they were “French-kissed” in the pastor’s office, at camp, etc., the media and the authorities got involved. Pastor Bob Gray was arrested in May of 2006 and is awaiting trial.
*Wimpy deacons through the years refused to deal with the accusations, correct or fire Gray and now have a firestorm on their hands. In my opinion, there are many culpable people involved here. Any person, who knew little girls were being molested, broke the law by keeping silent. I am convinced many leaders at Trinity are sleeping restlessly every night. They might share Gray’s cell and should if their cowardice resulted in other victims.
*There was an attempt at damage control in 1992 and 1997 when Gray was “disciplined” by the church. The church discipline was a botched job that is still reverberating across the nation thanks to a local television station. Sincere pastors had better learn from this experience and act properly if they are ever thrust into such a situation.
*The church has not tried to help the victims other than a letter from present pastor Dr. Tom Messer to one or more victims wherein he apologized for their pain. According to First Coast News Messer, in a typed letter with a handwritten note to alleged victims, indicated that the church “dealt with the issue of Dr. Gray’s relationships with children and brought church discipline” against Gray and “instituted accountability” for him in 1992 and 1997. If Gray is so innocent as some missionaries in Germany and pastors in the U.S. say then why did Trinity institute “accountability” and bring “church discipline” against him? I can’t get my critics to answer that question.
*Trinity leadership has obeyed attorneys who told them to keep quiet. “Say nothing that may incrimination you. After all the ministry is the most important thing.” No, truth is the most important thing. It is time for Gray, Messer, the involved deacons, and others to weep copious tears as they confess their abysmal failure to deal with sin in a biblical fashion. And take their lumps as they trust a sovereign God to care for His church as He sees fit.
*It is also time for those of us who have not been involved in such nefarious affairs to learn from the failure of others. We had better understand that we can not approach the eloquence of Bob Gray or the preaching and management skills of Tom Messer, but we can be faithful to our Savior, the Scripture, our marriage vows, our ordination vows, and sexual abuse laws.
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Thank you for your fair conclusions regarding Dr. Bob Gray’s ministry. I fondly and firmly remember Brother Gray praying and preaching esp. Sunday evenings the Book of Romans in the mid- 1970’s. I was saved by the Lord Jesus Christ when I attended Trinity in 1975 while stationed with the Navy in Jacksonville. I became the true Trinity Christian: running a bus route in north Jacksonville, attending evening Trinity Baptist College classes, tithing, soul-winning on Thursday evenings and never missing a worship service.
I am sicked but not surprised by the molestation history I am now reading about Brother Gray. He truly “walked on water” in the Trinity Baptist community in the 1970’s. This preacher was gifted unlike any I have witnessed since leaving Jacksonville in 1977.
Unfortunately, this appears to be a time Brother Gray was molesting without impunity. This was also a time of hard financial times for the teachers at Trinity Academy, when at Sunday evening service Brother Gray told the teachers there were no funds at the Academy to make their paychecks. Seriously, he would make them a loan. Who would of thought those dedicated teachers going unpaid were probably listening to the molester of one of their students.
What sickens me now, because I will never understand the pain and suffering of Brother Gray’s victims, is the memory of the first Mrs. Gray smiling setting in the choir and their children in the fold up seats we sat in a gym because we had no church sanctuary. Regarding the second Mrs. Gray, Sylvia Montgomery, I have never known a finer christian person and I pray for Jesus’s healing and peace for Sylvia.
Your’s in Jesus Christ,