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Thank you, Lord for Duncan Gray Jr.

When the world suffers dark and cold moments driven by hatred, like terrorist killings in Nice, or police shootings in Dallas, it is warming for our souls to take a moment and give thanks for goodness we have in this world.

Duncan Gray Jr., who died in Jackson this week at the age of 89, has been a beacon of hopeful and helpful light and goodness for Oxford, Ole Miss, Mississippi, and the South for decades.

And, we are thankful.

At the darkest moment for Oxford and Ole Miss, when James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the university in 1962 and riots erupted, it was Gray who stepped up, helping provide calm and wisdom with a steady voice, wisdom and God’s strength on his side.

As rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford that year, a role later filled by his son Duncan Gray III with similar strength, Gray earned our trust and deepest respect, and it has only grown in his many years of service since.

Gray was a bright light for Mississippi and its people in a long career, including years of service as bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi. At moments when our state has tried to move backward, Gray’s voice and presence helped many remember that we are one people, called to move forward, together.

So we thank you, Lord, for the life and service of Duncan Gray Jr., and pray that other Mississippians will embody his legacy, vision, and goodness in the years to come.