The Rev. Lillie W. Gray, a retired pastor, died Jan. 3, surrounded by her husband and family. A Celebration of Life was held at Grace Brethren Church of Calvert County in Owings. District Superintendent, the Rev. Evan Young, gave the eulogy. Other clergy who participated were the Revs. Roberta Matthews and Brenda J. Mack, and the United Methodist Men’s choir of Carters UMC.
Gray was ordained in 1992. She was the first female pastor appointed to Mt. Zion UMC in Pasadena, serving from 1992-1994. She was then appointed to Mt. Hope UMC in Sunderland and served for 11 years until her retirement in 2005. After retirement, she filled in for other pastors as the need arose. Her motto was “I want to live so that God can use me.”
Lillie Mae Wallace was born May 15, 1939, to the late John and Elizabeth Wallace in Nutwell, Md. From the time she learned to read as a 4-year-old, she knew she’d become an educator. She received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education from Bowie State Teacher’s College and taught fourth grade. She later received a Masters of Education in Reading from the University of Maryland. She retired as a Reading Specialist in the Calvert County Public Schools after 32 years
She and Edward Gray met in college and married in 1959. They had two sons. Shortly before her death, they celebrated 56 years of marriage in the hospital and read an anniversary greeting from President Barack and Michelle Obama.
Prior to her ordination, she served in many lay roles in church, including United Methodist Women, teaching Sunday School, choir, SPRC and others. She was always an active community participant and leader, serving on advisory boards and in several fraternal organizations, including the Order of the Eastern Star for more than 50 years. She was inducted into the “Preachers Hall of Fame” in 2015, at the Sharon Baptist Church in Baltimore.
Survivors include her husband and sons, Sherwood Lee Gray Sr. of Owings and Syrelius Barnett of Annapolis; one grandson; three sisters, four brothers, nieces and nephews.
Condolences may be sent to her husband, Edward Gray, 995 Marlboro Road, Lothian, MD 20711.