Derwin Gray, who played in the NFL for six seasons, is used to big stages on Sundays.
Now the pastor of a South Carolina megachurch, last week Gray used his platform to make a big announcement about the church and revealed something personal in the process.
During his Feb. 10 sermon, the Transformation Church pastor announced his congregation was going to make a large donation to an anti-abortion organization.
Before announcing the Indian Land church was making a $50,000 donation to the Women’s Enrichment Center, video shows Gray revealing it was recommended to his mother that she should have an abortion when she was pregnant with the man who would go on to play football for the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers before becoming a pastor.
With one arm around Julie Walters, the executive director of the Women’s Enrichment Center, Gray stood before his congregation and told the story of his mother’s experience.
“For those of you who don’t know, so my mom was pregnant with me at 16 years old,” Gray said in the video. “And in 1971 at Thomas Jefferson High School, she was bussed to a school what was then in the suburbs, and the school nurse said ‘You should go to California and abort your child.’ ”
Gray grew up near San Antonio, in what he called “the hood,” the (Rock Hill) Herald reported. He said he and his mother have differences. But they come down on the same side regarding abortion.
“My mom and I have had a complicated relationship over the years, but that’s one thing that we both agree upon, that was the right decision to make,” Gray said in the video.
According to Gray, his then teenage “mother told the nurse ‘I will not abort my child,’” the Christian Post reported. “It was a conviction she had. She wanted me to live,” Gray said, according to the website.
While abortion is a personal issue for Gray, he says it is a subject that must be dealt with compassionately.
During a prayer in his sermon, video shows Gray said “this issue is complex, but it deals with people. Instead of complaining about the darkness, we want to be light and hope in the darkness.
“That’s why we partner with the Women’s Enrichment Center because they are bringing hope and life and the gospel and helping. Not just raging, but giving mercy and compassion.”
In the video, Gray said the Lancaster organization “serves thousands of young women, and their families, facing unplanned pregnancies.”
The Women’s Enrichment Center’s website said it is “committed to assisting our clients with their emotional, physical, spiritual, relational, and financial needs in a caring and compassionate environment.”
Transformation Church describes the organization as “a ministry created to support women who have chosen life for their babies,” but Women’s Enrichment Center says on its website “only you can decide,” when considering abortion.
The organization is grateful for the $50,000 donation.
“When I tell you we were blown away, we were so blessed,” Walters said, the Christian Post reported. “I feel so humbled to be able to receive these funds.”
Transformation Church describes itself as “multiethnic, multigenerational, and mission-shaped,” according to its website.
It was founded in 2010, with an 178-person congregation, after Gray earned his masters of divinity degree, the Herald reported. By 2015 there were more than 3,000 members in multiple campuses.
According to its website, Transformation Church’s congregation is made up by “ethnically and generationally diverse people,” but what they have in common is “the life-transforming love of Jesus.”