Monday, June 8

Rev. Dr. Gregory E. Thomas of Haverhill Calvary Baptist Church dies

A decade ago, the Rev. Dr. Gregory E. Thomas guided Calvary Baptist Church in Haverhill through a major expansion. Under his leadership, a church that former slaves had founded as a prayer cottage after the Civil War had increased its size, expanded its reach into the community, and at its peak tripled the congregation.
“We are trying to interpret this as an indication God has work for us to do,” Rev. Thomas told the Globe in January 2005.
The pastor’s own work was multi-faceted and had been for most of his life. While studying theology he worked for an insurance company, and as a pastor he emphasized the importance of education, encouraging young members of the congregation to go to school, stay in school, and aspire to higher degrees.
“The word I would use to capture him would be generous. He was one of the most giving and generous preachers and pastors that I’ve known,” said the Rev. Gerald Bell, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in West Medford, who met Rev. Thomas when they worked for what was then New England Life Insurance Co. “He had a passion for education, and he always wanted to ensure that younger ministers would pursue their education. He was a great man of God.”
Rev. Thomas, who delivered his final sermon in January 2014 at the church he had led for more than 25 years, died May 11 in Lawrence General Hospital after an extended illness. He was 67.
His path to Calvary Baptist Church began in Cleveland and took him through college in Ohio and graduate work at Harvard Divinity School, before he was called to be pastor of a church where he initially thought he would stay for perhaps four years.

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