Rev. Raymond Gregory entered the Lord’s presence on 20 July. For the last years of his life he could not wait to see his Lord and Saviour. He died peacefully while sleeping in his chair.
Raymond became a Christian whilst serving in the army at Saton camp, Chester. A visiting representative of the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Scripture Readers Association gave him a copy of the New Testament.
He put it away in a drawer for some time, but then decided to read it through want of something to do. The end result was, as he often quoted, ‘I fell in love with Jesus Christ’. This love for Jesus Christ was later shown in his relentless service of his Lord and Saviour.
In the 1950s Ray ministered in a Congregational church in Ramsbottom. He then was called to help at Summerseat Primitive Methodist Chapel. The congregation consisted mainly of old ladies and the building had recently collapsed into the River Irwell.
Meetings were held in a car garage, then in the local Liberal club. After much prayer, they were able to rent an empty Co-op building under a 10-year lease. In 1961 they joined the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) and the church was renamed Summerseat Independent Evangelical Church.
Saints continued to be built up through Ray’s ministry and the Bible studies were a source of joy and edification, through sound Calvinistic theology. Ray was always busy and worked many hours on renovating the church building, alongside pastoral ministry and evangelism. He also had to return to secular employment in the local cotton mill.
Ray took up work with FIEC, as a Home Missions evangelist in 1969, spending some time in Skelmersdale and Farnworth, before returning to Ramsbottom in 1975.
When Raymond rejoined the fellowship in Summerseat, they were without a building due to the termination the Co-op’s 10-year lease. Within a couple of years they relocated to Ramsbottom, having bought their own little shop as a meeting place. Later they were able to add the two shops next door.
Again, he threw himself wholeheartedly into ministry and the renovation of the building. He retired from the pastorate at age 69 and continued in membership with us up to his call home and the awaiting crown of glory.
The fellowship at Grace Trinity Church, Ramsbottom, and elsewhere, will always be grateful to the Lord for giving Ray and his wife, Muriel, to the church. Ray suffered the loss of Muriel in 2011 and it is reassuring to know they are now reunited with the Saviour, whom they both loved and served so faithfully.