the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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James Martin Gray (May 11, 1851 - September 21, 1935) was a pastor in the Reformed Episcopal Church, a Bible scholar, editor, and hymn writer, and the president of Moody Bible Institute, 1904-34.
Gray was born in New York City as one of the younger of eight children. His father, Hugh Gray, died shortly after his birth. James Gray was raised in the Episcopal church, and probably after attending college in New York, he began training for a career as a priest. While preparing himself for the ministry, Gray experienced an evangelical conversion (mostly likely in 1873) after reading homilies on the book of Proverbs by William Arnot. In 1870, Gray married Amanda Thorne, who died in 1875 while giving birth to their fifth child, who also died.
As Gray continued to prepare himself for the ministry in New York, the Episcopal Church was troubled by a conflict between evangelicals and Tractarians, who wished to emphasize ritualism. In 1873, Bishop George D. Cummins resigned from the Episcopal Church and helped found the Reformed Episcopal denomination. Gray sided with the seceders.
Gray was ordained in 1877, and assumed the pastorate of the Church of the Redemption in Brooklyn, New York for one year. He spent another year at the Church of the Cornerstone in Newburgh. In 1879, Gray was called to assist an elderly pastor at the small Reformed Episcopal Church in Boston, which prospered after his arrival and grew from a handful of worshipers to a congregation of more than 230. The Boston church also managed to establish three additional churches during Gray's pastorate, all of which failed shortly after his departure.
While in Boston, he also became involved with Adoniram Judson Gordon in the founding of the Boston Bible and Missionary Training School, later Gordon Divinity School, where he was a professor from 1889 to 1904. In Boston he married Susan G. Gray, who also served on the faculty. During this period, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, conferred on Gray an honorary doctor of divinity degree.
Throughout the 1890s, Gray worked alongside D. L. Moody in the latter's evangelistic campaigns in New York, Boston, and Chicago; and Gray became connected Moody Bible Institute serving in a variety of positions from summer guest lecturer (beginning in 1892) to dean, executive secretary, and finally, president (the third, after D. L. Moody and R. A. Torrey) from 1904 to 1934. Gray also edited Moody Monthly and preached at Moody's Chicago Avenue Church (later known as the Moody Church).
On November 1, 1934, he resigned as President of MBI at the age of 83, but continued to serve as President-Emeritus. He died of a heart attack on September 21, 1935. The Torrey-Gray Auditorium at the Moody Bible Institute is named in honor of Gray and his predecessor, R. A. Torrey.
Theologically, Gray was an early fundamentalist who upheld the inspiration of the Bible and opposed the contemporary trend toward a social gospel. Gray was also a dispensationalist who believed in the premillennial, pre-tribulational return of Jesus Christ at the Rapture. Personally, Gray was conservative in dress and personal habit. A reporter remarked that he "cultivated gentlemanliness as a fine art." Male students at Moody were required to wear coats and ties in the dining room, and during a hot spell in July 1908, Gray admonished faculty members for taking off their coats and vests in their offices.
Gray was one of the seven editors of the first Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. Gray wrote 25 books and pamphlets, some of which remain in print. He also wrote a number of hymns, perhaps the best known of which is Only a Sinner, Saved by Grace.