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More Memories of
Pastor Joy Gregory

 

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Here is a report of a memorial service in New Zealand on Sunday, June 17:

We gathered together last night, about 25 or so of us, and had a wonderful, moving, time. We just simply shared and celebrated Joy for who she was to each of us. We lit a candle, we talked, we sang, we prayed, we laughed, we cried, and we went outside and Josh set free a balloon that said “We love you” (Josh said he hoped it went all the way up to the moon). We watched it drift up and away into a beautiful clear moonlight sky and we said “Good Bye.” Then we came back in and had a cuppa together and had food including Joy’s favourite Ginger Crunch! It was such a good thing to do and we wish you well as you organise your own celebration on Saturday—the day we will be meeting for our East JM service so we will be thinking of you. We have written a card for Mrs Gregory and have a tape of the stories shared, and we will bring those with us and sort out then where to send them.

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I didn’t know Joy well but I remember her from our orientation time and ordination classes at Carey in the late 90’s. I found her to be a lovely and dedicated woman with a great heart for the work and congregation God had given her. I am saddened to hear that she was so ill and my prayers for her family and the work she leaves are with you all. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Pastor Rob Daley
First Baptist Church
Nanaimo, BC.

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I first found my way to Joy Fellowship shortly after my arrival in Vancouver in 2002. From the beginning I saw Joy in her interactions with, and passionate care for, “the folks.” I liked and respected Joy very much—but thought of her as belonging to a level of “saintliness” well above my lowly sphere (incorrect theology, I suppose, but you probably know what I mean). Initially it seemed to me that we were very different in other ways too, so although we rubbed along quite happily at camps and singing together in Joy Fellowship services, I never expected a particularly close one-on-one relationship to develop between the two of us. But in 2005, after Joy’s diagnosis with breast cancer, I found myself just dropping round to her place more and more often. And as the year went on we discovered (certainly to my surprise; I can’t speak for Joy, but probably she was more astute than me) a kindred spirit and growing deep friendship. These thrived on long Sunday afternoons and evenings full of British detective stories, Scrabble-mania, ridiculous jokes, puns … and ducks (oh yes, real ducks in the flesh, as well an infinite number and variety of rubber duckies). I soon realised that Joy exemplified what a certain Oscar Wilde had said long ago, “Life is much too important to be taken seriously,” and something inside me shouted, “Amen to that!”

A few specific memories: First, a surprise birthday party which Joy threw for me at her place one Sunday afternoon in 2005, at a time when she was supposed to be “resting” after a round of chemo. I hadn’t even mentioned my birthday, but you know what devotees of birthday celebrations all Joy Fellowshippers are. So the house was suddenly full of a great multitude of folks and helpers and general JF hangers-on, every one armed with something ducky as a gift, and there was a tired-looking but triumphant Joy sitting smirking in the corner. Second, one holiday Monday in the summer of 2006, when we headed out for some fun. The Joy-driven itinerary ended up including Lighthouse Park (vigorous hiking, nature-appreciation lessons, and a picnic lunch), followed by a spontaneous run out to Horseshoe Bay and pilgrimage to Joy’s favourite ice-cream shop, followed by a drive up Mount Seymour to road-test a new wheelchair-accessible trail which Joy had heard about and which she wanted to check out for a future JF day trip. By the end of the evening, as I crept home exhausted, I realised we’d touched on most of Joy’s major enthusiasms in the course of twelve hours or so. Third, and only very recently (Victoria Day Monday 2007), Joy came round to my apartment, with the mission of inspecting my balcony garden. It was a glorious afternoon, and we sat looking out to the West and a grand view of clouds and sun. Joy suddenly pointed out in a vaguely heavenward direction and said, “You know, I’m quite looking forward to going exploring out there … perhaps you’d care to come and join me at some point.” And a few weeks after that she’d slipped off from us all, but that is how I am left picturing her—stomping energetically around those heavenly spheres, with perhaps a few upbeat harp lessons thrown in for good measure.

The last word (or should that be “quack”) goes to the ducks, courtesy of P.G. Wodehouse (Jeeves and Wooster being another of Joy’s little delights) … “Indeed, there is always something very restful about a duck. Whatever earthquakes and upheavals may be afflicting the general public, it stands aloof from them and just goes on being a duck.” Maybe that’s the source of Joy’s duck-affinity; “aloof” is the last word that could be used to describe Joy, but it’s certainly true that through all the challenges and hard times which she went through these last few years, Joy “just went on being Joy.”

Paula Waters
21st June 2007

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Dedicated to Joy Gregory for her life’s ministry
and to JOY FELLOWSHIP—
a faith ministry for the physically and mentally challenged.
Verse by Audrey Semke



THE BRAMBLY LANE OF LIFE

The pathways of life are beautiful in all,
hideaways, walkways, trails great and small.
What hold they? we ask, as we stand at one end
and strain to see beyond the first bend.

Sweet mystery of life, for naught is foretold
what the next minute, hour or tomorrow will hold.
We must take the first step, each one alone,
down the lane we have chosen and make it our own.

Alone—yet not—for GOD goes before
to prepare us the way and help us endure
the brambles and dangers we pass on our way
He’ll teach us to love, to laugh and to pray.

We’ll meet many folk on our walkway in life:
the lowly, the poor, the burdened with strife,
the lovely, the meek, the gentle good soul,
the haughty, the hard, the cruel and the cold.

What say we to each we meet on our way?
What do we for any in one given day?
See we the unlovely, the anguishing soul?
Stop we to make one broken heart whole?

Or want we only life’s rich, raucous noise,
the eye to behold false beauty and poise,
the heart to harden to all else but ‘fun’
the feet from humbling service to run?

O spare us not, Father, from life’s real needs
teach us to sift out our own selfish greeds.
Show us, O Lord, the beauty of heart
of the unlovely vessel for you set apart.

Grant us in service your infinite grace
to see the deep joy in each smiling face
of the ‘special folk’ you have placed in our way
to encourage our faith and brighten our day.

Special folk these—blessed of our Lord,
bearing a treasure we all can afford:
the joy of GOD’S LOVE to the great and the small,
the love of God’s Son—His gift to us all.

Avoid we these jewels strewn in our way?
Think we to serve them some other day?
Or do we hasten to listen and answer God’s call;
for His pathways in life are beautiful in all.

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It's hard to know how to begin a tribute to Joy because there are so many good and glorious things to be said. Hers was a life well-lived even though it was shorter than any of us would've liked it to be. She was cheerful and full of Joy, and when I talked with her I always felt like I had been with someone who'd just come from God's presence. She always seemed a step ahead of the rest of us in her living, suffering, understanding, and acceptance of God's ways and will. Her life, her name, could always for me be summed up by a quote I saw one day many years ago: "Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God."

She lived life to the fullest and exhibited a thankful heart and the peace that passes all understanding when I first met her many years ago at Western Washington University. She was my Core Facilitator my first year at Western and became a forever friend during that time. We learned and laughed together and I sensed a deep relationship with God in her and His wisdom from that very beginning. She had our whole core group get up at the crack of dawn and go to Larrabee State Park to watch the sun come up one glorious morning. It was a beautiful picture of God our Creator and I knew that morning that I would never forget that day.

I remember her showing Jeff & me a little owl that was hiding in a bush right outside our dorm! It amazed me that she was so observant and tuned in to nature and the little blessings God would show her. I would see her on her good days and on her not so good days, when her arthritis would cause her arm to have to be in a sling or it affected her eye. I know there were many other things that it did to cause challenges for her, and yet, she didn't complain, and she didn't go on about her problems. It was good that as time went on I could get her to share with me so I could pray and be a support to her, but she never was one to focus on her problems. She focused on the Lord, on His blessings, and on how to pray and be a help to others. I think of her as "my friend" and yet I realize she also had the gift of being a friend to many others, in many places throughout the world. She was humble, never thought of herself above others, and truly poured out herself in a way that we can all use as an example. Throughout the years we kept in touch by mail and saw each other only occasionally, but we deeply enjoyed those visits and treasure them now. You know you have a forever friend when you haven't spoken to them for quite some time, and yet, can pick up sharing and visiting like you just saw them yesterday.

And even though we didn't see her as often as we would've liked, I always felt like she would always be there for me if I needed her ... that I could call her or write her or email her and ask for her thoughts, wisdom, or prayers concerning different matters. She was so firm, so solid and unwavering in her faith and love and commitment to the Lord that I knew that she would see our Savior face to face. As much as I grieve and will miss her, I also rejoice because I KNOW she is with the Lord and that one day I will see her again. In some ways I am much more saddened for friends who are no longer following the Lord and still seem to think they're okay. I want them to be with the Lord too.

I also recognize that it must be very difficult for those of you who have had the privilege of having Joy as a part of your daily lives for oh so long through Joy Fellowship. You have been exceedingly blessed and I know Joy was also exceedingly blessed by your love and support of her throughout the years, both the good and the challenging. God bless you all and thank you for giving Joy a taste of the glories of heaven through the fellowship of the believers that she had through Joy Fellowship.

Love In Christ,

Jeri Stockdale
Poulsbo, WA

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June 26, 2007

James and I have been working on the Joy Fellowship Newsletter. We had decided to include a four-page tribute to Joy in the Summer Edition.

The 6-page newsletter and the 4-page supplement are finally finished and we took it to CopiesPlus on West Broadway. It is a long way from our home, but we knew that Joy liked their work and thought they were a nice group of people. We also asked them to print special Thank You In Memorium cards.

Tonight we went to pick up the newsletter. When the man brought the boxes for us, he said there was "No Charge." I asked if that meant that they had charged it to Joy Fellowship and should I sign for it. No, he said it means No Charge, and across the bill was written "In Memory of Joy." Not only had they printed and stapled the newsletter, they had printed the Thank You cards in colour and included envelopes as well. I had been worried about the cost of the extra pages and cards, but felt it was important to do this for Joy. Obviously CopiesPlus felt the same way as the young man said that Al the Manager wanted to do this for Joy.

Both James and I walked out of the store with tears in our eyes. This was such a beautiful gesture and just one more kind act that shows how much Joy was loved.

Roberta

 

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