Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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January 10, 2014

Longtime ministry leader says goodbye

Dr. John W. Gregson retires from center after 25 years of service

JACKSONVILLE — At 90 years of age and after 25 years of service, Dr. John W. Gregson recently retired from his ministry at the Angelina House.

His departure was met great fanfare and gratitude for his service.

“I thought that was pretty amazing (that he'd been volunteering at the center for so long)," said Angelina House activities director Edith Fudge.

A  part of the Angelina House community since the senior residential center opened in 1988, Gregson said he asked the first manager if anyone had volunteered to do Bible study or teach a Sunday School class at the center, and she said, "No, no one's doing that."

And Gregson's ministry at the center began.

On Wednesday, residents threw a retirement party in his honor.

Gregson and his wife, Lois, visited with residents, who had decorated Angelina House's dining hall with balloons with messages wishing him love and luck.

“People got along with him very well, and his Bible study classes would have 14 to 19 people each time – it was the biggest class we've had," Fudge said. "He is going to be missed very much."

Gregson feels the same about the people he's built relationships with during the past two decades.

As a young pastor, “I developed a love for ministry to older people (who were) unable to get out, who were shut-ins,” he said.

Soon, he found himself an unofficial pastor of those communities, he said.

“Some of them called me 'Pastor,' and told me that (the Sunday School and Bible study classes) were the only church service they attended,” Gregson said.

Between 1951 and 1986, he served in pastorates at 10 Association Baptist churches in Texas and New Mexico, except for a four-year interim from 1967-71, when he dedicated time to his writing ministry.

Through the years, he has written Sunday School lessons for “The Baptist Progress” and lessons for “Golden Words,” as well as other various Baptist periodicals in the Southwest. His lessons on the Book of Romans were translated into the Romanian language and sermons on the General Epistles were translated into the language of Russia.

As a published author, Gregson has written “Speaking for Christ and his Church,” a history of BMATS; a two-volume history of Jacksonville College titled “A Centennial History of Jacksonville College;” and a 50-year history of the seminary, “Earnestly Contending for the Faith.”

In 1988, he retired from Jacksonville College after serving since 1977 in different capacities, including as the school's academic dean.

He and Lois developed a camaraderie with Angelina House residents, “and they love her like they love me,” Gregson said.

The couple “will miss seeing the people regularly,” but now that he's 90, “I guess age was the main thing” of his decision to retire, he said.

Gregson will, however, continue to serve as an assistant teacher of the Men's Bible Class at Jacksonville's First Baptist Church.

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