Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

And One Was a Priest: The Life and Times of Duncan M. Gray Jr

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

And One Was a Priest: The Life and Times of Duncan M. Gray Jr

Article excerpt

And One Was a Priest: The Life and Times of Duncan M. Gray Jr. By Araminta Stone Johnson. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2011, Pp. xviii, 287. $40.00.)

Duncan Gray Jr. served as priest and then bishop of the diocese of Mississippi in interesting times. In seminary at the University of the South in the early 1950s, he supported the School of Theology faculty as they clashed with die university's governing board over the admission of African-American students. Newly ordained in 1953, Gray was deep in the Mississippi Delta when the decision in Brown vs. Board of Education was announced. He was then vicar of St. Peter's in Oxford during the violent insurrection that greeted James Meredith's matriculation as die University of Mississippi's first African-American student. Gray next served across the state at St. Paul's in Meridian, in the days that Sam Bowers' Klan burned black churches, bombed synagogues, and murdered civil rights workers in that area. In each of these contexts, Gray was remarkably, publicly clear about the implications of the gospel for life in a changing Mississippi. He exhorted his congregations to embrace civil rights and racial integration as necessary consequences of their faith in Christ.

Gray was clear about the gospel's imperatives, but he was no radical. A radical would have failed. We are not shown Gray at many sit-ins or demonstrations. During the movement, Gray noted the social dissonance caused by the bohemian attire of some student workers (204-5). He shared with parishioners an appreciation for Ole Miss football, a drink of whiskey, and table fellowship (158). Gray provided leadership toward change through board memberships and in partnership with black leaders, classic venues for mainline clergy. To be clear, he clashed openly with racist paternalists of the old school at Sewanee and in his parishes and never espoused the delaying gradualism that many white clergy found useful. Yet his repertoire of pastorally sensitive methods included echoing from the pulpit his listeners' gradualist regret that the timing and methods of the civil rights movement were not easier for whites to handle, even as he urged them to Christian virtue for that new day (235) . …

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