Bering United Methodist Church

Constance Gray – A Servant’s Heart

*Video courtesy of Gregg and Rene Farris

by Becky Jones

April 2016

Twenty-five years ago, a young woman walked into the Bering Care Center with a heart to help and need to serve others.  A friend steered Constance Gray to Bering’s Care Center.  There Constance met Dr. Don Sinclair who asked her to organize the facilitators for Bering Support Network meetings.

Constance began attending those meetings and realized that something very important was going on there.  She was surrounded by people who were living with and dying with AIDS.  Yet, there was immense joy:  life transforming joy.  Working with the people of Bering Support Network, she encountered discrimination that she never knew as a young, white woman in the world.  She found out what discrimination felt like for those with AIDS and those who were GLBT.  AIDS was destroying many lives – not just the lives of those that had AIDS.  She has written two poems referencing her experience in this work:

Necessities

The wish list, scribbled with a hundred wants,

Of needy people trying not to die of AIDS.

Flannel shirts, jeans, and sneakers, a winter coat,

Green bathrobe, a ticket to Detroit.

A ticket to Detroit pressed into my mind by the vision

Of children’s faces – close against a window waiting,

For a father who cannot come.

The door of my mind slams shut!

Can’t think about it now- too much to do.

The flannel shirts come first, the toothpaste,

Shaving cream, yes, even candy bars and cigarettes;

But, still there is this ticket to Detroit.

Detroit, where tear-stained faces watch for someone

Who will not come for Christmas again this year.

Prayers unanswered by God or Santa Clause or anyone.

Necessities.  Necessities must come first!

So many needs – no ticket to Detroit.

Still, I see the dark face,

Holding back the disappointment

As he unwraps the gifts tucked in a shopping bag.

A corporate effort to try and ease some simple needs.

No ticket to Detroit today.

No hugs for the little ones.

The necessity of his soul.

– Constance Gray

Teenagers I Have Known and Loved

The Blond One

The streets claimed him,

Even before HIV took over his body.

No high school education,

No GED to claim on a job application.

Selling his body to the highest bidder,

For a room at night, and with any luck,

Breakfast in the morning.

Misfit

Fourteen and Mom’s already dead.

Fourteen and Dad’s got AIDS, too.

Fourteen – in the sixth grade;

A lost boy with a remote chance

Of knowing much joy in life.

This victim of AIDS will not die!

Cut from Such Fine Cloth

Two dads – no mom.

One the biological connection;

One the spiritual connection.

One gone, the other leaving soon,

For that special place you must surely

Go when you die of AIDS.

Another bright, young future

Maimed by a disease he doesn’t even have.

– Constance Gray

 

 

Watch as Constance shares the evolution of her service at Bering Memorial UMC:  from BSN, to a coffee house for teens, to 20 Somethings of Houston, a group for young gay professionals, UMYF, and Open Gate.

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