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Memories of
Pastor Joy Gregory

November 2, 1959 - June 9, 2007

 

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If you would like to share remembrances and/or pictures
to be included on this page, please send them
to info@joyfellowship.bc.ca.

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Joy GregoryJoy was born November 2, 1959, in Vancouver, and she graduated from Western Washington University in 1981 with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Music. While at university, she became a Christian, and this became the guiding decision of her life. After finishing her degree, she came to Vancouver and tried teaching, but it was during a summer job as a music therapist, at Woodlands in New Westminster, where she first encountered Joy Fellowship, a congregation serving people with disabilities. Beginning as a volunteer, she eventually became a full-time pastor with Joy Fellowship, which continued to be her primary place of ministry until her death. She loved this congregation and delighted in supporting people to grow nearer to their potential. She was involved in training interns from a variety of countries, and she had the joy of seeing some of them initiate similar ministries in other parts of the world. Joy also helped many other churches and groups improve the services they offered to people with disabilities.

Doctor Joy Gregory!Joy received her Master of Divinity from Regent/Carey in 2001, and she was ordained by the Baptist Union of Western Canada in 2002. She continued to study at Carey Theological College and was awarded a Doctor of Ministry degree in a special Convocation in February 18, 2007.

Joy loved God and loved the world He created, especially delighting in the beauty of the deserts and canyons of Utah where she camped almost every year since her childhood. Joy also loved people, music, food, gardening, hiking, camping, bird-watching, and life.

In 2005, Joy began a battle with breast cancer, which later developed into a struggle with leukemia. Joy went through incredible obstacles and overcame unbelievable challenges with grace, courage, and dignity. She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and we, her family and friends, will miss her greatly. But we know that she is in heaven, waiting to greet us when our turn comes.

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God looked around his garden and found an empty space;
He then looked down upon this earth and saw your tired face.
He put his arms around you and lifted you to rest;
God’s garden must be beautiful, he only takes the best.
He saw the road was getting rough and the hills were hard to climb,
So he closed your weary eyelids and whispered, “Peace be thine.”
It broke our hearts to lose you, but you never went alone,
For part of us went with you the day God called you home.

Author unknown

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Joy has always been and still is a picture of the spirit of joy to me. She holds that spirit of God's joy throughout all life's circumstances. Thank you for that example, Joy!

Mary Lam

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I was Joy's roommate when we were in college during my junior and senior years at Western Washington University, 1978-80.  I'm so thankful that we were able to keep in touch over the years, even after I moved to Virginia.  I never would have imagined back then that there would be this thing called the Internet and I'd be doing something called a Web page for a church called Joy Fellowship ... but it really has been a blessing to be able to do this, and it never would have happened if Joy and I hadn't roomed together all those years ago.

I remember a small plaque she had sitting on her dresser that so summed up her life: "Joy is not the absence of suffering, but is the presence of God." She exemplified what it meant to "rejoice in suffering." I never heard her complain even though she was in constant pain, but she was always unselfishly reaching out to others. People were always drawn to her as she was so gentle and compassionate and so obviously cared. I know now that God was preparing her for full-time ministry with Joy Fellowship, but she sure didn't imagine it at that time.

What a wonderful friend, sweet spirit, beautiful servant ... I will always miss her, but I look forward to the day when we will be reunited and will get to have pillow fights again.

I love you, Turkey.

Your Turkey always,
Cathy Gilstrap

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Joy's graduationOn Sunday afternoon, February 18th, 2007, Carey Theological College conducted a special graduation ceremony at Trinity Baptist Church during which the degree of Doctor of Ministry was bestowed upon Rev. Joy Gregory, a pastor at Joy Fellowship. Pastors, Carey faculty and staff, alumni and students, family and friends joined in the celebration with Joy.

It was truly a triumphant commemoration of her life and testimony of the Lord’s grace through her struggle with cancer. The Joy Fellowship Worship Team and Sign Choir gave a special musical presentation to Joy and Dr. Barbara Mutch gave a meaningful address to “Live Right On.”

I didn’t know Joy personally and only met her at this graduation, but I could tell she was a special person with much love to give.

Blessings,

Faith Knoll
Associate Registrar
Carey Theological College

Joy's graduation

Joy's graduation

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While I am saddened for our loss, I am filled with joy that Joy is no longer suffering! As I read what was sent to us, the Lord inspired me to write this poem.  I pray that it blesses all of you!

In HIS Service,
Jim

ODE TO JOY!
 
You spoke and I just laid there,
all I had was breath...
I was dying and you stayed there,
escorting me through death...
others pointed at me laughing,
you reached out with love,
and we reach for you as you rise
in healing up above!
Joy you were and joy are are
to more than you can know!
You smiled at me and I made faces,
you still loved me, though!
I heard "You can't, you're disabled..."
You said "You can!  Let's go!!"
Thanks to your life, oh, so much life
you cause us to know!
 
Joy you were and joy you are
to life, both now and ever!
Your life have we within our own,
and not a thing will sever!
"Goodbye" will not be spoken, rather
"See you in awhile!"
Thanks to you, we all know joy,
no matter how we smile!

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Memories of Joy

When Joy and I first met, we meshed together about as well as peanut butter and salsa. It was understandable. At that time in my life, I had very little trust for anyone, and I was much more abrasive in my youth than in my more mellow middle years. As for Joy, well, at that time she tended to reserve her trust. There was reason: with Joy, Sue and Cheryl being the main helpers, often male volunteers had other motives for getting involved than getting to know the folks.

In addition, Joy and I frequently had ideological clashes. We had very different views about faith, practice and ministry. Willie often noted to me how our conversations tended to be very polite arguments. That happens when two people of strong opinions get together. So, our relationship got off to a very rocky start.

However, sometimes the greatest friendships have the roughest beginnings. I was able to prove my trustworthiness, and as I got to know Joy, my respect, admiration and affection grew. I was awed at her passion for ministry, her commitment to Joy Fellowship and love for all the folks, a love I was able to share.

As we got to know each other, we discovered a number of mutual interests. I will always treasure those experiences, the movies we enjoyed together and the lunches at Stepho’s. As the years passed, I believe we grew to appreciate each other more and more. David and Merrill have often accused me of “corrupting” her, as she adapted certain aspects of my sense of humour (roast guinea pigs, anyone?).

And so, from our rather tumultuous beginning, Joy eventually became one of my closest friends. When my friend Willie was killed a number of years ago, Joy was the one I grieved with. When my mother passed away a few years ago, it was Joy I contacted to express my grief. Joy was a significant presence in my life.

I didn’t have great deal of contact with Joy in the last year, as my job took me to Edmonton. I wasn’t there during her latest illness. I will treasure, however, the blessing that allowed me to see her one last time at Easter, to have one last chat, however brief. It is always distressing to a friend, especially one as dear as Joy was to me. I don’t make friends easily, so losing someone creates a huge vacuum.

I will miss Joy. I will miss our conversations, our times together. I will miss her example of faith and devotion. But I will hold onto the memories, and look forward to our reunion in Heaven. I guess I’ll have to wait until then to discuss the last Harry Potter book.

Michael Martin

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Joy and I were traveling partners. We went everywhere: LA, Florida, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Michigan, and New Zealand. Joy encouraged me to read the Bible and to do God's work. If I didn't feel like doing anything, she said, "What would Jesus do?" But when it came to giving me a bad time, she would be the queen. She would make me laugh so hard that she'll say, "Lezlee, breathe!" I'm going to miss her giving me a hard time.

Lezlee Bachand

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Joy and Janice

 

The fish was very small, but Joy's smile was very big when she helped me to catch my first fish at Orcas Island. She also let me make peanut butter and banana pancakes. Joy was great at water fights and pillow fights at camp.

When she did respite care for me once near Christmas, she let me sleep in my sleeping bag under her Christmas tree. She also let me use her Strawberry Shampoo. She took me to New Zealand and Disney World. I am going to miss her very much, but I have great memories of Joy.

Janice Bavis

 

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Dear Dave and Ruby and all the members of the Joy Fellowship

We in New Zealand feel for you in your grief at the passing of Joy—the loss of such a wonderful friend to all whoever had the privilege of knowing and sharing their lives with Joy. We feel for you all in Joy Fellowship—and especially Dave and Ruby, Joy’s mother, and her wonderful friend Sue.

We grieve too—she so enriched all those she met on her four visits to New Zealand. But grief is only a part of the story, for we give thanks to God for the way in which Joy lived her life to the full in serving her Lord and Master.

What an amazing woman of God.

She was an Encourager,
              An Inspirer,
              An Exhorter,
              A Teacher, and
              A Challenger

She had such vision and humility
She had time for everyone
She never considered her own needs
She had such a tremendous sense of humour and was always fun to be with
She was innovative and creative
She had compassion and love, but along with these she never neglected discipline.

Every one of you will have rich and enduring memories of how she impacted your lives.

We will never forget the first meeting with Joy in a taxi at Joni’s first ever congress for the church and disability. We were instant friends for life.

We treasure the memories of the four visits to New Zealand. How she loved our country. Nothing could ever take her away from her beloved friends in Canada, but she would love to have lived here in our country. And that in spite of the difficulties she had to overcome on her first visit here—huddling with her team on the floor in Hawaii as a hurricane ripped through the island state, having to drive on the opposite side of the road, and being delivered (contrary to her order) with a manual vehicle, and she had only ever driven automatic vehicles! She shared so much with us, and we from our experience of a sister ministry, enriched each other. We had lots of laughs together. We have lots of happy memories in NZ and Canada—going to Piha and wrapping her in seaweed, walks, camps here and in Canada, our Centre that she so loved, etc.

We know your ministry got its name, Joy Fellowship, before Joy even appeared on the scene, but it is particularly appropriate that Joy has the same name. Your fellowship will have great increase. God will take Joy’s input and raise up great men and women to take on the baton. ‘Except a grain of wheat dies and falls into the ground……’

Thank You, Jesus, for the gift of this unique woman of God for these very special years.

She is with You now. The pain and suffering is no more. Only “Joy” for evermore in Your presence.

Hugh and Di and folk in NZ

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Joy’s life was short but her accomplishments were huge. She brought a great deal of “joy” into so many lives, Joy’s name was very appropriate for the kind of life she lived. It was a coincident that she came to serve God in Joy Fellowship which was named before she came into the picture. She certainly exemplified what JOY in Joy Fellowship stood for:

J—for  Jesus.
O—for others.
Y—for yourself.

She always put herself last.

Joy will be sorely missed by all those whose lives she entered.

She left a wonderful legacy.

Fred

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For a few years I was on the pastoral team at Trinity Baptist Church. As many people will know, Joy Fellowship has had a long and good relationship with Trinity. Many special events are held there including the spring and fall fairs each year. Then there are the weekly meetings held on Tuesday evening in the lounge and Wednesday evening in the chapel through the fall, winter and spring.

Thus I had good opportunity to get to know Joy Gregory and her ministry. And what a ministry it was and continues to be. Our Lord gave Joy a remarkable basketful of gifts that combined deep Christian spirituality, with hands-on practicality. She preached well, with careful preparation. She prayed well and led others to pray, with creativity and diligence. She led well, with vision, also hearing the call to ministry beyond Vancouver. She pastored the flock. She loved her people.

Joy Fellow people love to pray. When they say they will pray for missionaries they actually do pray for them. So when Betty and I began seeking support for our new ministry overseas we felt especially privileged that our very first Sunday presentation after leaving Trinity was to Joy Fellowship. They were the first to invite us to come and have remembered us faithfully ever since. This too is part of Joy's legacy.

Whenever Joy traveled to speak about the ministry of Joy Fellowship, she always took a team with her. Part of Joy's joy was to share ministry. She once told me that her assignment was simply to walk faithfully alongside her people, day by day, year by year, until she saw them safely home at last.  In the end, it was 'her people' who walked with Joy, and saw her safely home at last.

Well done, dear sister.
John Forrester

 

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