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VP, music prof retires after 35 years at Southwestern

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–His father was a Methodist and his mother a Baptist. For Scotty Wayne Gray, the denominational difference didn’t matter because both of his parents loved God. And, they loved music.

The result for Gray has been a 35-year ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, first as a church music professor and later as vice president for academic administration. Gray retires from Southwestern at the end of July.

“The seminary is a phenomenal place,” said Gray. “Spending the last 35 years working at an institution whose mission is to prepare people for Christian ministry has provided a life filled with challenges and rewards.”

“Dr. Gray is an effective team member and a good friend,” said Southwestern President Kenneth S. Hemphill. “His attention to detail and his passion for quality education has made my first 7 years most productive.”

Gray’s parents helped develop a love for music in their son by encouraging him to sing and play the trombone and by their example.

“Mom and Dad were deeply committed Christians, both active in the church and the music ministry,” Gray said. “Dad led the choir, and mom played the organ.”

Gray’s father also played in a U. S. Marine band.

Growing up in Somerset and Lytle, Texas, Gray said he had the typical small town America upbringing, knowing most people in the town, playing football, playing in the school band and participating in numerous community activities.

He said he also had the opportunity “to be with Christian teachers that I admired.”

“When I was a senior in high school I had a very fine Christian band director,” Gray said, “and I became interested in music.”

Earlier, at the age of 12, Gray became a Christian in a way that typified life in a two-denomination family.

“On a Sunday night at Mom’s Baptist church service I came under conviction during the preaching of my Uncle Arthur Rutledge and wrestled with the Holy Spirit for 1 week until the next Sunday morning, when attending Dad’s Methodist church service, I made a profession of faith in Christ,” Gray recalled.

A few years later, Gray continued, he and his father knew it would be better if the family worshipped together and so they joined the Baptist church and were baptized together.

After high school, Gray enrolled at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, to study music education and church music. During his last 2 years at Baylor, he said, he sensed a call to a teaching ministry and decided as a senior to get a doctorate in church music.

Rutledge, who had greatly influenced Gray’s early Christian years, encouraged him to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. After studying there, Gray served as music minister for 2 years at First Baptist Church, Peco, Texas.

Gray then attended Southwestern and completed a master of church music degree. He went to the University of Texas to work on a doctorate where he met his wife, June, and left school to serve at First Baptist Church, Kingsville, Texas, as music minister for 3 years.

Determined to get his doctorate, Gray returned to Southwestern and earned a doctor of musical arts. The day he finished the qualifying examinations James McKinney, dean of the school of church music, asked Gray to join the faculty.

Gray has served at Southwestern ever since. He was a professor of church music and associate dean from 1966-90.

“I worked with some fantastic faculty members,” Gray said, adding that they were “committed Christian people, very capable musicians, and good teachers. We had a wonderful relationship.”

C. L. Bass, professor of church music who also retired this year, said “Scotty Gray is a highly intelligent, well organized and caring administrator and friend.”

In 1989, Southwestern President Russell Dilday asked Gray to be vice president for academic administration.

“I wrestled with the decision for quite a while,” Gray said, “but I felt then and continue to feel now, that it is a stewardship and a ministry to work in administration.”

Dilday later wrote, “In God’s providence, we have a man with intimate knowledge of and past experience with the school of church music and who at the same time has demonstrated remarkable administrative skills at the executive level.

“One aspect of personal interest to me is the globalization council and ethnic leadership development,” said Gray in discussing some of his emphases as vice president. “The seminary is seeking to do more to help train American ethnic groups: the Hispanic community, the African-American community and the Korean community.”

In recent years, Southwestern has developed relationships with several international institutions located in Lebanon, South Korea, India, Spain, Japan and Germany.

Through these relationships Southwestern is helping to train many international students to spread the gospel, Gray said.

“These groups came to Southwestern seeking our help in training their students, and I am very happy to have been involved in helping cultivate these relationships,” he added.

“Scotty is an innovator who is willing to explore new paradigms,” Hemphill said. “His heart for the world caused us to think globally at Southwestern.”

As he retires, Gray knows he is leaving during a time of growth at the seminary.

“Two things I hate to leave right now are the new opportunities that are developing in continuing education and distance education,” he said, citing the new Leadership Development Center and Internet courses as examples.

Gray does not plan to slow down after leaving seminary.

“Retirement is not going to be retirement in the typical sense of the word,” says Gray, “We are redirecting and re-energizing.”

The Grays plan to take time to cultivate their rose garden and travel to places like Germany, Switzerland and England, where they have lived and New England and Colorado where they love to visit.

Gray also plans to finish a book on the hymns of the Anglican bishop, Timothy Dudley-Smith and to work with internationals through University Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

    About the Author

  • Mark Cheslik