Rev. Gary Lindley, Executive Director
If you were to ask my brothers and sister they would tell you that I was the “favorite” child in the family. Of course I have no idea where they got that notion. I mean, just because Mother had my picture on her dresser with a wooden heart dangling on it that read “favorite” is purely circumstantial evidence. I grew up in the small town of Cleveland, Texas, which is 35 miles north of Houston, and graduated from Cleveland High School. Much of my dad’s family lived there as well, so I had the fortune of growing up with many grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in close proximity. We all attended the First United Methodist Church of Cleveland and it was here that I first experienced the love and grace of Jesus Christ. There are so many fond memories of growing up in this church and it was there, at the age of six, that I first received my call to ordained ministry. My parents said that I would often gather all the neighborhood kids in our backyard and preach to them.
After graduating from high school, I enrolled at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas - a United Methodist college and the oldest junior college west of the Mississippi. And while my time at LMC provided me with much of the knowledge and inspiration on which I’ve built my life, it also introduced me to the most important and sweetest life-altering experience since I heard my call to ministry. You see, it was there that I met Eileen Lackey, who has been my wife and my partner in Christ for 42 years now. From Lon Morris I went to East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas (to my displeasure, East Texas State is now Texas A & M at Commerce) and received my Bachelors of Science degree. I graduated from Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, in 1977, and was ordained an Elder in the Central Texas Annual Conference in 1978.
For more than ten years, I served as a new church start pastor, first at Covenant in Arlington, Texas and then St. Philip’s in Round Rock. I have also served Edge Park, Mineral Wells and Keller. In Jan. 2007, I became the District Superintendent of the Fort Worth District and then in June of 2009, I accepted the position as Executive Director, Church Growth and Development. Something that you may not know about me is that I’ve I was licensed to preach in the Texas Annual Conference, ordained a deacon in the North Texas Annual Conference, and ordained an elder in the Central Texas Annual Conference. At least CTC was willing to keep me!
As I mentioned above, Eileen and I have been married for forty-two years and we have been blessed with two sons, Jason and Daniel. Both of the boys still live in the Central Texas area, which is great, not only because having family close is something I’ve always known but also because our sons have blessed us three perfect grandchildren that “Papa G” gets to spoil unashamedly pretty much whenever the urge strikes. Eileen and I enjoy traveling, reading, home improvements and spending time with our grandchildren. We look forward to the day when we can begin building our retirement home on our lot at Lake Palestine near Bullard, Texas.
However, before Eileen and I ride off into the East Texas sunset, there is still a lot of exciting work to be done here with the Center of Evangelism and Church Growth team. I am excited and humbled by the opportunities in front of us because this is our calling – to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world, beginning with those closest to us. Evangelism is not a commandment – it is a God-given privilege from the heart. The reason I want everybody to feel the love of God is because I am experiencing that amazing grace. To love our neighbors as ourselves means that we will want them have a relationship with the ultimate Source of that love.