GEORGETOWN, Texas (ABP) – Cecil Ray, for many years a leading figure in efforts to convince Southern Baptists to give more money to religious causes, died Aug. 23.
Ray, 88, of Georgetown, Texas, worked from 1961 to 1975 with the Baptist General Convention of Texas promoting the Cooperative Program, a unified budget that funds both state and national Baptist missions, and in stewardship promotion, encouraging Baptist Christians to be generous in their tithes and offerings and for churches to share more of their offerings for missions.
He was general secretary of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from 1976 until 1983. Between 1984 and 1988 he was national director of Planned Growth in Giving, a 15-year challenge to Southern Baptists to dramatically increase their support for world missions. The idea was to raise funds for Bold Mission Thrust, an SBC emphasis launched in 1979 aimed at sharing the gospel with every person in the world by the year 2000.
Ray was the author of several books, including Living the Responsible Life (1975), Christian Family Money Management (1969) and Witnessing-Giving, These Go Together (1988). He was also well-known for his efforts to improve the quality of life for his daughter Susan, who due to a childhood bout with polio lived most of her life as a quadriplegic and dependant on an iron lung.
In those days there were few devices to help handicapped individuals, so Ray took it upon himself to build gadgets like a motorized wheelchair, portable iron lung and mechanical desk. He worked with a volunteer engineer from IBM to develop a specialized typewriter which enabled Susan to become a prolific writer before her death at age 47 in 1995, including Cooperation: The Baptist Way to a Lost World that she co-authored with her father in 1985.
A native Texan, Ray was a graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was ordained by Immanuel Baptist Church in San Angelo, Texas, and was pastor of churches in Llano, Rowena, Dublin, Sulphur Springs and Lubbock, Texas.
Ray’s funeral was scheduled for Aug. 26 at Crestview Baptist Church in Georgetown, Texas. The family suggested memorial contributions in his honor be given to Crestview Baptist Church, the Cooperative Program of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention or Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Atlanta or the Alzheimer's Association.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.