New to the pastorship at Broadway Baptist Church, Dr. Nicholas J. Gray is not new to Sedalia — he’s had friends in the area for years. He said he is happy to be living in Sedalia and he plans to reach out to the community with several new concepts implemented recently at the church.
Gray and his wife Cynthia Gray, formerly of Shell Knob, moved to Sedalia permanently in June. Prior to that, they had been driving from Shell Knob to pastor the church for several months.
“We had been coming up here since March from Shell Knob, which is 187 miles from here,” he said. “It’s 40 miles southwest of Branson … it is almost 400 miles round trip. We were coming up on Sundays and going back on Sunday night or Monday morning.”
Gray, 73, added that he’d retired from the pulpit 20 years ago, but felt a calling to return.
“I felt the Lord calling me, you just feel it in your heart, you know,” he said. “You’re uncomfortable not doing it.”
Years ago Gray was involved in archery. His ties to Sedalia were due to a friendship with Leroy Young, who owned an archery store in Sedalia, and also with Sedalian Harvey Ebers, a bow hunter. Coming back to live in Sedalia wasn’t a difficult decision.
Gray said since coming to Broadway Baptist he and his wife have created a website, a new brochure and they are beginning a faith-based counseling service.
“My wife and I are counselors,” Gray noted. “For the last 15 years, down in Shell Knob, we’ve had a counseling ministry. I had only retired from the pulpit, not from the ministry. We’ve just incorporated our counseling ministry here.
“We do offer counseling to the public,” he added. “If they are not members of the church, we do charge just to cover our testing and it’s based on their income.”
The services include children, adults and group counseling. The couple is licensed with the National Christian Counselors Association and is also certified through the American Association of Christian Counselors.
Gray said that since arriving at Broadway Baptist Church, children’s attendance has tripled and he’s seen a “slight increase” in adults.
“We are also creating a new brochure for teenagers and young adults, which is tailored to their needs,” Gray, who is also the Missouri State Chaplin for the American Legion, added. “We want to be a service to the community. The whole thing is about service.”
He said some of the church members planned to help American Legion Post 642 visit veterans for Christmas.
“The church has talked about visiting veterans and giving them Christmas cards,” he said. “Our Legion has just decided to do that. We are going to visit all the homes here and in Warrensburg.”
He said Broadway Baptist is growing not only due to family connections but with new members and guests.
“It’s really interesting here, most of the churches have several generations of families,” he noted. “It’s very evident here at this church, but some of those families are bringing in other people who are not part of their family.
“We are totally non-judgmental, we accept people as they are,” he added. “We are looking for everyone. The Lord didn’t come to save righteous people, He came to save the sinner. We’re all sinners of course.
“Basically we are trying to be of service to the community,” Gray said. “That’s so important. We want to help people.
“The church is not a social justice organization, like some people think,” Gray added. “We invite everybody.”
Broadway Baptist Church, 2119 E. Broadway Blvd., will have a special Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. Dec. 24. They are also collecting canned goods to give to families for Christmas. Those interested in contributing to the canned food drive may call the church at 826-1557 or 827-2448. For more information visit www.broadwaybaptistsedalia.org.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.