United Church of Canada insults Reverend Daryl Gray


By: Janice Dayle

daryl_gray.jpgCan a fine upstanding practicing Minister of religion be banned from visiting his former congregation? In Montreal some factions of the United Church of Canada are trying to do just that.

Reverend Daryl Gray who once held the position of Minister at the Union United Church, was sent a letter from David Clinker, Supervising Minister of Union United Church, stating that Gray's attending the funeral for the mother of one of his current church members in December 2007, was "in violation" of an agreement made between Gray and The Montreal Presbytery.

According to Clinker in the letter, Reverend Gray was, "not to enter the premises or to take part in the events of Union United Church." Clinker also stated in the letter that he "insist" that Gray follow the agreement made by the Montreal Presbytery, and that Gray is not allowed to enter the church building for any reason without Clinker's "expressed permission".

The alarming side to this story is that the Minister in question, Reverend Daryl Gray, is no less than one of the most compassionate, sincere and aware, community focused - Black individuals in a position of leadership in Montreal.

"Bottom line is – 'The Rev' keeps it real, I've met no other preacher in Montreal who speaks as if he knows my every move and need...he is almost like a group counselor and that's the sign of a good reverend for me," Jade Smyth a member of Gray's new Imani Full Family and Gospel Church told YardFlex.

In a very public way some years ago, the United Church of Canada relieved Reverend Gray of his duties at Montreal's and Quebec's oldest Black Church – The Union United Church. Gray reportedly had not satisfied the United Church of Canada that he was actively engaged in professional development, as they had requested.

Situated in the inner city neighborhood of Little Burgundy where Blacks in Montreal have a rich history, the Union United Church was established by 26 blacks who were forced out of white churches in Montreal by white church leaders who would not allow Montreal Blacks to sit besides white members. It is ironic that with such a history of displacement, that a Black reverend – and not just any Black reverend, but that Daryl Gray, could be treated in this way.

There are many heroes of African descent in Montreal, but few stand up for equal rights and justice in as vocal a way as Reverend Daryl Gray does today and has in the past. Known for: questioning authorities when issues seem nebulous; getting up close and personal with the street guys, when things in the neighborhood get out of hand; initiating community activism for all round betterment for particularly Blacks and for creating a wonderful new Black Church called Imani, Gray has been credited for saving lives, nurturing souls and giving his all to youth.

This move of the United Church of Canada remains mind boggling to most, but seems to be seeped in bias.

Gray maintains that at no time did he agreed with the United Church of Canada not to enter Union United Church, and that he stated to the United Church representatives at a Union Board meeting that he definitely would not agree to any such provision. And recalls that many black members of the Union Board expressed outraged that this would be suggested to Gray by the United Church. Gray also attended a Special Celebration Service at Union to commemorate Union's 100 year anniversary, where he received a warm welcome from members of his former congregation.

A defiant Gray says he will be visiting Union United Church today for the closing programme for Black History Month and will not seek permission from the United Church to do so.

"This is plantation mentality to think that white folk still think that they can dictate to black people how to worship, where to worship, and who can lead them in worship. It's an insult to the Black community", said Gray.

He added, "I have no problem with Union United Church. This letter did not come from Union, but from United Church leaders. They (United Church officials) didn't even have the respect for Union to cc a copy of the letter to their 'Black' Official Board."