Mary Vinson, now a dispatcher for the Bath Police Department, said her attraction to Gregory didn't take long to develop.
was chosen from a pool of 25 applicants for the position at the Assembly
of God Church
in Bath, which is now Elim Community Church
.It was the only church he
had applied to.
During the interview process, 10 years ago on the first Saturday in December, the Vinsons came to Bath to visit the church and explore the community.They found themselves watching the city's annual Christmas parade.
"I remember I was just watching the people watch the parade," said Gregory
."I started crying, and I was thinking 'I'm home; this is the place.' I looked at Mary.We were both struck with love for this place.Bath was a divine appointment for us."
Since then, Gregory Vinson
has served on a variety of community groups, including the Student-Community Liaison Committee
, as chairman of the Bath Community/Police Partnership
, the youth advisory committee, the Main Street Bath
board of directors, the Salvation Army advisory board, the Weed & Seed board of directors and others.He
also played a part in the creation of the new Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark Center
and has volunteered on a variety of community events and programs.Three years ago, Vinson became the volunteer chaplain for the Bath Police Department.Since then, he and the Rev. Don Williams, chaplain for the Maine State Police, have formed the Maine Police Chaplains Corps, which will eventually start providing training for others.
The role as police chaplain puts Vinson in a variety of situations, everything from performing death notices for the department to providing pastoral care for police officers, prisoners and anyone else affected by a crime or tragedy.
"When it comes to faith issues, the department knows I'm the person to come to," said Vinson
."But it's a ministry of presence.Being the chaplain does not give me the right to preach to the department.My function is just being there.From that it evolves."
With these commitments - to God
church and the community, in that order - Vinson
sometimes finds himself short of time.He
never loses his
determination, said David A. Lewis, associate pastor under Vinson
at Elim Community Church
truly loves Bath and he wants to see Bath grow to be everything it possibly can be," said Lewis.
Lewis said Vinson
is a demanding boss who sets high standards and expects total commitment.
The Rev. Michael Ferris has been a close friend and confidant for Vinson
for the past 17 years, ever since they met in Bible school.The Elim Community Church's
youth group paid for Ferris, who is a minister in Baton Rouge, La., to fly to Maine for Sunday's celebration.
"There has never been a person I have ever known who loves people like he
does," said Ferris."In his
manner and in the way he
conducts himself, and the way he's
persevered through his
difficulties - all that makes him my hero."