Connected Campus

Dr. B. Gray Allison, Mid-America Founder, Passes Away

 

The Mid-America family mourns the loss of our founder, Dr. B. Gray Allison (1924–2019), who passed away at 9:30 p.m. on February 12. Dr. Gray, as he was lovingly called, served as Mid-America’s president from its founding in 1972 until 1997, when he became President Emeritus. As long as his health permitted, he continued to teach his foundational Personal Evangelism course and bring the inspiring The Miracle of Mid-America address each fall during Founders’ Days. For all his accomplishments, Dr. Gray often said he only wanted to be known as a Baptist preacher. Today, we thank our great God for Dr. Gray and the legacy of Bible, missions, and evangelism he leaves to all the world for Jesus’ sake.

 


 

 

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to: Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary—designated to either the Northeast Branch or the B. Gray Allison Chair of Evangelism.

 

 


 

 

 

Share your memories of and tributes to Dr. Gray on social media using #MABTSDrGray. You may also submit it to Mid-America by emailing DrGrayTribute@MABTS.edu. Written, photo, or video responses are welcome.

 

View the Dr. B. Gray Allison: A Celebration service recording (February 25, 2019).

 

View the Dr. B. Gray Allison Funeral service recording (February 18, 2019).

 

Read a tribute to Dr. Gray from Mid-America President Dr. Michael Spradlin.

 

Read and view memories and tributes from the Mid-America family and others.

 

 


 

 

Dr. B. Gray Allison: A Celebration Service Recording

 

 

 

 


 

 

Dr. B. Gray Allison Funeral Service Recording

 

 

 


 

 

Tribute to Dr. B. Gray Allison:
Now He Belongs to the Ages

 

By Dr. Michael Spradlin

President, Mid-America

 

Born in small-town America to a family of simple means, Beverly Gray Allison survived the depression and a world war to found and lead as president a theological seminary with graduates serving all over the world. While great is often overused of those who have gone on, Gray’s legacy will be as multicultural as it is multifaceted. His passion for missions and evangelism touched the world.

 

Called Boo by his family (because that was the way his brother, Phil, pronounced Beverly), Gray grew up in a loving home where faith in the Lord was a centerpiece of family life. When Gray was 18, the death of his father was a tragic introduction to manhood and came at the brink of his entrance into the maelstrom of World War II. He soon found himself as the 19-year-old crew commander of a B-24 bomber and headed to war in the Pacific where he flew 16 combat missions. Among other recognitions, Gray was awarded the Air Medal for bravery in combat.

 

Returning home after the war, Gray married his sweetheart, Voncille. Their love for each other was obvious to all who met them. Gray’s love for his children knew no bounds. Throughout his ministry, his family remained his rock.

 

During the war, Gray had a growing sense of urgency that the Lord was calling him into the ministry. Finally surrendering to the call to preach, he enrolled in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in his home state of Louisiana because of his belief in training for ministry. As he would tell his own students later, “The Holy Spirit has a strange affinity for a trained mind.”

 

One of the great influences on his life was the school’s president, Dr. Roland Q. Leavell. Dr. Leavell was not only the president of the seminary but also a professor of evangelism. Dr. Leavell’s passion for personal soul winning became Gray’s passion and practice the rest of his life. Gray embraced the life of a scholar but he never let that dull his focus on evangelism. In a busy time of life due to his preaching schedule and leading the school’s evangelism training program, Gray wrote his doctoral dissertation in one week. Asked about this amazing feat later, he stated that he knew what he wanted to say and had already done the research; he just needed time to write it down. One of the professors who commended the excellence of his dissertation was Dr. Roy Beaman, later one of Gray’s founding professors at Mid-America Seminary.

 

Now officially Dr. B. Gray Allison, he would be known as “Dr. Gray” by friends and associates because several of his siblings earned doctorates through the years. He served on faculty at his alma mater and later left to join the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention promoting and teaching evangelism. Ultimately, he followed his passion and became a full-time vocational evangelist.

 

Dr. Gray loved his denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, but he became increasingly concerned about the theological liberalism in the seminaries. In the 1960s, he began to meet with friends praying the Lord would raise up the right kind of seminary where the truthfulness of the Bible was taught and where the priorities of missions and evangelism were practiced. In 1972, Dr. Gray started Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and became the school’s founding president and first professor of evangelism. For over forty years, students would sit in class under the spell of his steel blue eyes and hear one heart-gripping word - “lost.” Dr. Gray lived by the mantra that evangelism was more caught than taught, and he passed on the fire to share the Gospel to all people.  He inspired all who sat in his classes to go because a lost and dying world desperately needed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

 

As a leader of a conservative, Bible-believing seminary; Dr. Gray experienced the distancing of friends who wanted no part of controversy and the rejection by many in the leadership of the denomination he so loved. He always wanted to be known by what he was for more than what he was against, so he persevered and stayed positive.

 

To have preached all over the world, Dr. Gray was a humble and surprisingly introverted man. He was amazed that God would call an introvert like him into the ministry.  He counseled with many, taught thousands in the classroom, and witnessed to all who would listen. Dr. Gray never cared about titles and awards.  He once said that all he wanted on his tombstone were the words “Baptist preacher” and “US Air Force pilot.”

 

Perhaps the best summary of his life comes from an observation on a hot, southern, summer day. It was at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June, and the morning session ended. Thousands of preachers and denominational leaders streamed out of the convention center rushing to get something to eat before the afternoon session began. On the street corner, amidst the rushing crowd, was a man in a nice suit sitting on the curb by the street. My eyes were drawn to him, and I saw that he was talking with a man who had obviously fallen on hard times. I recognized the man in the suit as a seminary president, Dr. Gray Allison. He had taken out a pocket New Testament and was witnessing to the man, ignoring the crush of the bystanders. Dr. Gray was more interested in sharing the Gospel with this poor, lost soul than whatever comfort the noon meal could provide. Dr. Gray’s life mirrored the words of Jesus in John 4:32, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

 

Dr. Gray’s heart is the heart of Mid-America. Both are most poignantly reflected in the words of Mid-America’s Alma Mater:

 

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary

Alma Mater

 

Words by B. Gray Allison
Music by Voncille Allison

 

To all the world for Jesus’ sake,
Where bodies hurt and sad hearts ache;
Lift high the cross,
His love proclaim;
Mid-America, bear His name.
His kingdom is coming,
O loud let it ring;
His kingdom is coming,
Be joyful and sing.
Lift high the cross,
His love proclaim;
Mid-America, bear His name.
 

 


 

 

Memories and Tributes from the Mid-America Family and Others

 

 

Dr. Gray was the interim pastor of Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama. He would come over on weekends and serve the church. I was a little 8-year-old that he led to the Lord and baptized. Little did he or I know that 36 years later, I would be attending Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and sitting in his evangelism class as an Associate of Theology student. It was an absolute joy to be able to attend the Seminary and sit under his teaching. He always smiled and chuckled when I referred to him as my “spiritual father.” He will always hold a special place in my heart for his leadership and example in my life.

—Charles W. Sharpe

 

I was a member of the first class at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in 1972 and graduated in 1975. I remember first meeting Dr. Gray during a revival service in South Haven, Mississippi, where he was preaching. I was considering attending seminary that fall semester, and I wanted to be sure it was conservative. After the services, I asked Dr. Gray two questions. “Do you believe the Bible is absolutely true?” He answered, “Yes.” Then I asked, “Do you put it into practice?” Again he answered, “Yes.” I told him, “I'll see you this fall.”

Dr. Gray was persecuted in the early years of the founding Mid-America because of his stand on the truth of Scripture. He persevered in his love for Jesus and the Seminary he founded. The thousands of pastors and foreign missionaries who he helped train are a testimony to his Christian life. I'm one of those foreign missionaries he helped equip to win souls to Jesus. I now minister in the mountains of Honduras.

—Bobby Gibson

 

Dr. Gray was an AMAZING man, preacher, professor, and Christian! He definitely lived what he preached! His passion was to lead people to Christ, and he inspired his students to do so! His personal evangelism class was very demanding but necessary to memorize the Scriptures needed to lead people to Jesus! Thank you, Dr. Gray! I will never forget you!

—Keith Wilkerson

 

I was blessed to have been his friend and he mine! This is a huge loss but Heaven’s gain! Glory to God for Dr. Gray! I loved him dearly.

—Tim Horton

 

He is one of the finer men I have ever known. He was passionate for those of us who chose to sit under the faculty at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. He loved us liberally, accepted us broadly, and held us to the unswerving standard of God’s Word. Heaven has one of its choice servants within the gates today. He is just beginning a gloriously enviable experience of seeing the unfolding of the majesties of the Savior he loved supremely.

—Kelvin Stokes

 

What a legacy! I named my little girl Allie Gray after him!

—Tracie Smith Mooring

 

No man touched my life more deeply than Dr. Gray.

—Jerrie Tasker

 

He had a measure of caliber that is not often seen in our day! He had that ability to leave you, each time, with a word that made you ponder its potential in your life! He was unashamedly bold for Christ! Thank you, Dr. Gray!

—Paul Rivalto

 

I was just telling someone about him yesterday. I remember taking his evangelism class and hearing his heart for the lost all over the world. I am grateful for Dr. Gray. He will be missed. I send prayers for the family during this time.

—Mark Williams

 

He was a mighty, great man of God and my hero in so many ways. We named our son Daniel Gray after him. At one time there were two other Mid-America graduates here in Texarkana who had also named their sons Gray. I am thankful for the reality of Heaven, Jesus, angels, and all the saints with him today.

—John Webb

 

Share your memories of and tributes to Dr. Gray on social media using #MABTSDrGray. You may also submit it to Mid-America by emailing DrGrayTribute@MABTS.edu. Written, photo, or video responses are welcome.

 

 

 

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