The search for the right church is a very personal choice, and people who live in Gray and Jones County have many from which to choose.
The choice, however, for some who seek a less complicated way to worship has moved back to its point of origin. The Gathering in Gray started services back in the newly renovated Gray Memorial Chapel Sunday.
Dr. Greg Thompson handl the pastoral duties, and he said he is happy to get back where they started.
“We don’t consider ourselv an organized church. We are gathering of Christians for th purpose of worship and inspiration,” he said. “We’re not a church; we’re a gathering.”
Thompson said, while renovations were being completed at Gray Memorial Chapel, the members had been joint with Central Baptist Church. Thompson was a former pastor of the church and agreed to fill the pulpit there for six months.
He said it worked out well because, while they were without a meeting place, the church was without a pastor.
Thompson said he enjoys the freedom being able to meet at Gray Memorial gives him and those who come to worship. He said that is due to the kindness and generosity of the owner of Gray Memorial, Scott Walston, who charges them nothing for the use of the facility.
“I get to preach and take care of people,” he said. “And I don’t have to go to business meetings.”
Thompson said they do tak up a collection each service, and that money is given back to those who have needs in th community.
“We have no overhead. I’m retired, so I’m enjoying givin back,” he said.
The preacher served as a minister for 38 years and went on to earn his doctorate Thompson was very much a part of organized religion during that time, having led the construction and debt retirement of two large religious facilities. He said when he retired two years ago, Jones County Sheriff Butch Reece suggested they start a different kind of church.
“I told him OK, you find us the place,” Thompson recalled.
He said they started meeting at the funeral home in 2019 and continued until the pandemic hit. While they were shut down, the pastor said he sent inspirational emails for 14 weeks to those who had attended regularly.
Thompson noted that The Gathering is portable.
“The only thing we own are our hymnals,” he said. “We use plastic boxes to take up the offering. It’s actually pretty amazing how well it works.”
Linda Reece said she enjoys attending services with The Gathering because it is so simple.
“We sing, pray, read scripture and then we go home. It’s old time religion and I love it,” she said.
Thompson said many of the people who are attracted to The Gathering have gotten hurt one way or another in an organized church. He said everyone is welcome to attend, no matter their denomination.
The services begin at 11 a.m. each Sunday. The address of Gray Memorial Chapel is 4378 Gray Highway in Gray.
More information about The Gathering in Gray can be found on its Facebook page.