Former Philadelphia Congressman and Pennsylvania political heavy weight Bill Gray died yesterday in London, he was attending Wimbledon with one of his sons.
He succeeded his father as pastor of a church and remained in the pulpit of Bright Hope Baptist Church while he served as a Congressman, President of The United Negro College Fund, special adviser to President Clinton & the Secretary of State for Haitian affairs and founding an international consulting company on weekends he would come home to preach.
While in Congress he was the first black member to serve as Chairman of the powerful Budget committee and also the first to serve as Majority Whip, he was on track to eventually becoming Majority Leader or Speaker. He authored the legislation that began the process of sanctions against apartheid South Africa. Then in 1991he answered another calling, he resigned from Congress and all that power to become the leader of The United Negro College Fund
Nothing got done in Philadelphia unless Rev. Gray was briefed on it first. His position in the pulpit, in Congress, as head of UNCF and the fact that he could pick up the phone and call Presidents and Kings made him almost an indispensable leader for not only his city but his state and nation as well.
I had been in Mr. Gray's company a few times during his time in Congress and he owned the room each and every time. Things would almost come to a complete stop when he entered a room because everyone needed to know what he was doing, whom he was speaking to and what he was saying. And, let me tell you the man could preach. I attended a service in which he was the guest preacher and it was a tour de force performance. I have heard many a good preacher in my day and a few that were great but hearing Rev. Gray preach was an experience like no other.
Bill Gray's life made a difference and today I mourn his passing and honor the legacy he has left us with.