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HISTORY OF IMANI FAMILY & FULL GOSPEL BAPTIST CHURCH

 

​​2005 - ​After leaving as Pastor of the Union United Church, Reverend Darryl Gregory Gray in July 2004 had to choose whether or not to leave Montreal for other ministry opportunities. ​

 

The Back Yard (4620 Prince of Wales, NDG)

 

​Before having to make his decision to take his family and travel to Toronto or back to the United States (his home of birth) Rev. Darryl Gray was approached by Hazel Marshall, David Clarke Sr., and Arnold Moore, who asked to meet him at his family home at 4620 Prince of Wales Avenue, NDG. Rev. Darryl Gray agreed to the meeting thinking that this was to discuss circumstances at Union, but to his surprise, in additional to the three people, several other people surprisingly showed up. The group became so large that the meeting had to be conducted in the back yard of the house.

​Among former members of Union, people from other faiths, there were people who were not connected with any church communities at all. All of the discussion centered on ways to keep Rev. Darryl Gray and his family in Montreal. It was made clear that a uni-lingual Afro centric pastor did not have many employment opportunities in Quebec, but everyone felt that Rev.‘s ministry could continue to make an vital contribution to the development of the Black community.

As Sister Olive made people feel welcomed and comfortable by providing snacks and drinks, the casual conversation turned to options for Gray. There was a church on the West Island of Montreal that had expressed an interest in hiring Rev., but nothing was confirmed. It was Hazel Marshall that suggested that Rev. should start his own Church.

After much discussion, it was agreed that the group would form a committee that would look into provincial requirements to establishing a religious institution. After a few days of prayer and reflection, Rev. Darryl Gray asked the group to meet again to share his decision. He wanted to move forward with starting a “new” church family in Montreal. Rev. Gray stated that the mission of the church would have to fit his style of ministry, and be faithful to the true mission of the church - real, relevant, and reachable. Those in attendance agreed. Imani was formed, in principle, on July 13th.

“We’ve come this far by faith”

Rev. purposed to the group that the name of the church would be “Imani” - because the word “imani” was African for “faith”, and he believed that anyone trying to establish a church in this society, day, and time would have to have a lot of faith. The church would focus on the tradition and strength of the African Canadian and American religious history.

 

The new Church was named “Imani Family and Full Gospel Church”. To stress that the mission of the church must be to focus on the development and strengthening of the family, as well as people prepared to live out the full gospel message of Jesus Christ.

 

Because the group did not have a place to worship, founding member Randolph Pierre, president of the Universal Negro Improvement Association offered their facility as a meeting place, as well as a place for the Family Choir to practice.

 

The first constitution was discussed and voted on at the first Congregational Meeting of the Imani family. At that meeting, Reverend Gray was voted as Imani’s First Pastor, various Ministries, Boards and Committees were established.

 

Other outcomes included: Hazel Marshall elected as first Church Secretary;Algretha Warner elected as first Church Secretary; Olive Gray was appointed to coordinate the Music Ministry; Lawrence Edwards appointed as Chair of Board of Elders; Patrick E.A. Hickson appointed as Chair of Board of Management. Imani Family Choir (Adrian Gibson choir director) and subsequently Nancy Ingram become director of the Imani Family Choir.

 

On the first Sunday in August, Pastor Thomas Fergus (a good friend of Pastor Gray’s) opened the doors of his church for Imani’s Consecration Service at Bible way Pentecostal Church, on Coursol Street.

 

Bible way was the site, and has been the venue, for Imani ‘immersion’ baptisms. Both churches have established a great working and social relationship.Perpetual Praise choir (directed by Tammy Clark) provided the music ministry for this event, and continues to serve in this capacity each year. This service drew people (participating clergy: Pastor Thomas Fergus, Canon David Oliver, Pastor Serge Brosseau, Rev. Gerry Thompson, Pastor Terry Wilson, Pastor Horace Thompson) from throughout Montreal, representing various congregations. The Montreal media covered this as a major event, and was aired on national television (evening news).

 

The first worship service was held at Grand Blvd. (formerly the home of the Resurrection Centre, Bishop David Burton, Pastor). Because of the size of the church building the “Imani Brunch” known throughout Montreal because of the quality and quantity of food served had

to be held at Antico Martini, one of the located restaurants.

 

The Gray family moved from Prince of Wales to their new home on Girouard Blvd. This home also served as a meeting place for committees, as well as a place for choir practices.

The first babies born to the Imani Family were Isaiah Janiel Shane Wright (October 23th), to the parents of Jolisha Wright and Trenton Oliver; and Miracle Pristina Simmonds Ocotber 26th), to the parents of Daleenya Simmonds and Philippe Geffrard.

 

2006

 

VOICES of Imani was formed by Barina Wright and Onyeka Bouchard, both served as joint choir directors.

 

Children of Light was formed by Olive Gray, who became the choir director.

 

The W. C. Bacon Choir, from Cleveland, Ohio (USA) was the guest choir for the church’s first Summer Community Concert, held at the Salvation Army Citadel.

 

The congregation out grew the Grand street location because of the increase of members in the Sunday School within a year and began looking for a larger venue.

 

Through Jane Mansfield’s contacts Rev. received a call from a realty who said to him, “I have Your church”. The person stated to Rev. that she had a church that she through the congregation would be interested in. This location was in Little Burgundy, at 540 Richmond Street. The church, formally used by St. Joseph’s Church Parish, had about 20 members who were not using the sanctuary, but worshipping in the basement.

 

After meeting with the realtor and visiting the church, the Board of Elders decided to recommend the location to the congregation.

 

1st anniversary dinner (attended by about 300 supporters) was held at the Omni Hotel in downtown Montreal on Sherbrooke Street. Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, Jr. Senior Pastor of the Imani Temple in Washington, D.C. was the guest speaker.

 

The following people and organizations received the first “Faithful Servant Awards” - Antico Martini Restaurant, Bible way Pentecostal Church, Family Federation, Feron’s and Otis Grant. This award was given because of the support that these awardees gave to the Imani Church family during the year.

 

Pastor Franklin Murray from Bethel Baptist Church, Boston, Massachusetts preached at the 1st anniversary service.

 

Rev. Darryl Gray licensed the following members to the Gospel Ministry: Hyacinth Cameron, appointed to lead Prayer Ministry; Mac Andrew Clarke, appointed Youth Minister; Lawrence Edwards, appointed to lead Visitation Ministry; Gloria Francis appointed as Ministry of Outreach; Olive Gray appointed as Minister of Music; Cordella Hamlette CEC; Kim Mitchell appointed as Praise and Worship Leader; Sherma Salandy appointed as Ministry of Evangelism and Jeremy Theodore appointed as CEC supervisor.

 

The Men’s Choir was started by Rev. Gray, who served as choir director. Skipper Dean and Clement “CC” Walker also served in this position as well.

 

The Metro Detroit Area (MDA) Choir, from Detroit, Michigan (USA) performed as the ‘guest choir’ at the Summer Community Concert, held at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall.

 

Voices of Imani travel to Hollywood, Florida to perform on the Dr. Bobby Jones Gospel Music Showcase. October 19th, passing of founding member, Mother Evelyn Wilhemina Mussender-Marshall Braxton (funeral service held on November 6th).

 

The Universal Peace Federation World Peace Tour of 120 countries culminates at Imani, with Archbishop George Stallings as the keynote speaker. Rev. Franco Famularo, Secretary General, Canada presented the members of the Board of Elders with the Ambassador for Peace Certificates.

 

“Holiday Hoops” basketball tournament in ‘Memory of the late Winston “Ricky” Calendar, was founded by the Youth Ministry in order to give young people something to do during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

 

2007

 

The MDA Choir returned for a second year as the ‘guest choir’ for the Summer Community Concert.

 

September - Rev. and Mrs. Gray leads a group of 25 people on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, for several days. The group represented people from various churches in Montreal and Toronto. He baptized 20 pilgrims in the Jordan River.

 

Founder Evelyn Braxton dies.

 

2008

 

Founder & Church Secretary Hazel Marshall dies.

 

Verna Holmes appointed as Church Secretary.

 

In May, Imani Family Choir, Men’s Choir and others, participated at the annual Gramby United Church Benefit Concert. This event was coordinated by Nancy and Alison Ingram.

 

Bobby Jones, from BET Television, hosted the 1st Gospel Music Showcase.

 

The Gray family moved to the South Shore (Brossard).

 

Held “Community Watch Night” to view historic election of Barack Obama as the President of the United States of America.

 

Received our tax number and charitable status from the federal government.

 

2009

 

Bus trip to Washington D.C. for Barack Obama Inauguration.

 

(Spring) Provided the venue for the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. to conduct their initiation ceremony of the first undergraduate chapter of an international and predominantly black fraternity in Canada.

 

May 9th - Imani Sisterhood presented “Sisters of Faith Conference” Featuring speaker Michelle McKinney Hammond.

 

July - Gloria Francis appointed as Associate Pastor.

 

Bobby Jones, from BET Television, hosted the 2nd Gospel Music Showcase.Gary Beals (Juno Award Nominee performed).

 

Nov. 2nd passing of Sister Deborah Willis (funeral held on Nov. 16th).

 

Dec. 29th - Founder Mother Rhodessa Irene Layne Clarke dies (funeral service held on January 6th 2010).

 

2010

 

Cleopatra Marshall become director of Voices of Imani.

 

Feb. 4th - passing of Brother Theophilus Tyrell.

 

Benefit Concert for Haitian Relief Fund, raised over $10,000 in response to the earthquake in Haiti.

 

Site Selection Committee formed to seek other potential worship sites. Andrew De Four and Shane Brady asked to spearhead this search process.

 

Cymanthia Thomas becomes congregation’s first member to receive university degree and she distinguished herself by completing her studies to become a doctor.

 

Minister Glenn Gray, Forest Chapel CME Church, of Spartanburg, South Carolina (USA) opens the 5th anniversary celebration worship service as the ‘guest preacher‘.

 

April 16-18th Young Adults Ministry holds 1st Annual conference: “Help Us to Save the Future - I Need You to Survive”.

 

Church had to hold a benefit concert, instead of the usual summer community concert, to raise funds necessary to deal with the increased debt load that sought to hamper the work of the church. This was part of a city-wide fund raising drive by the church.

 

May 2nd, passing of Brother Eugen (Ben) Parris.

 

Flag Ceremony, coordinated by Ruth Ambris, was conducted. Flags were presented to the congregation as part of the 5th anniversary celebration in the regular worship service to reflect the countries that make up the Imani family.

 

June 17th, Founding member, Francis Arnold Moore dies (funeral service held on June 26th).

 

June 19th - Imani Sisterhood presents “DIVA Day”, featuring Michelle McKinney Hammond.

 

June Bell and Clifton Thompson were selected to head the 5th year anniversary committee. The Dinner was held at Il Gabbinao in LaSalle. Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, Jr., senior pastor, Imani Temple, Washington, D.C. was guest speaker; and also guest preacher for the community worship service.

 

July 17th - Egbert Gaye, Publisher of the Community Contact News publication is the recipient of the “Faithful Servant Award.” Marlene Jennings (Member of Parliament, NDG-Lachine) and Mary Deros (City Councillor, Ville de Montreal) gave greetings; members of the Nu Gamma Gamma & Alpha Delta Xi Chapters of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. offered to serve as ushers for the evening.

 

Elder Wayne Channing, Presiding Elder of the Lighthouse Churches of God In Christ Canada, will perform the Rite of Fellowship between Imani and the Lighthouse COGIC, Canada.

 

October 15-17 - Pastor Gray guest speaker for Rev. Franklin Murray Anniversary Service in Boston, Mass. The Family Choir provided the music.

 

October 30th, passing of Sister Irita Gwendolyn Mary Celestine St. Hilaire (funeral was held on November 11th).

 

November 14th - Invited the Nu Gamma Gamma Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity to worship with Imani as part of the fraternity’s Anniversary Week.

 

Dec. 16th, passing of Brother Leroy (the Happy Wanderer) Edwards (funeral service held on Dec. 29th).

 

2011

 

May 7th - Celebrated the marriage of Minister Glenn Daniel Gray and Sister Rachelle Augustine Bruno.

 

June 10th, passing of Sister Lena “Blossom” Byfield Gauntlett (funeral service held on June 22nd).

 

June 11th - Rev. Gray guest speaker and co-host at 1st Annual Montreal Hip Hop Summit, sponsored by Muhammad Study Group, Montreal.

 

July 3rd, Imani Launches Capital Fund Campaign to raise funds to purchase or build new church.

 

July 17th Anniversary Service. Rev. Franklin Murray, Bethel Baptisyt church, Boston, guest preacher.

 

Elevated ministers Jeremy Theodore and Glenn D. Gray to the position of Associate Pastor.

 

August 23rd. Rev. Gray was the guest preacher for Evangelism Night, the 128th Session of the Canadian Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, held at the Hotel Espresso, Montreal.

 

October 16th, Rev. Darryl Gray was the guest preacher for Rev. Franklin Murray’s 23rd Pastor’s Anniversary service in Boston, Mass.

 

Imani Music Ministry begins first CD production. Natalie Simard, the Savoy Ellingtons, and Dawn Tyler Watson are among featured artists.

 

October 30th - passing of Sister Marquerite (Gero) Mclean (service held on November 5th).

 

2018

December 31 - Rev. Darryl Gregory Gray resigns.

2019

January 1, 2019, Rev. Glenn D. Gray began and officially assumed the office and duties as the Spiritual Leader, Teacher, and Senior Pastor of the Imani Family and Full Gospel (Baptist) Church.

 

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