Jim Gilley: Adventist Celebrity: President and Televangelist of 3 ABN[Fourth in series of Adventist Celebrities and Me... because so many SDAs claim I wasn't ever really an SDA but someone on the periphery of the church.]
My father and Jim Gilley grew up in Dallas and attending the same church and church school. They fought over girls, got into trouble together and shared each others secrets.
On our old, silent black and white family movies there is young Jim with curly dark hair, skinny and handsome teasing Camille, his not-yet wife, who is smiling broadly waving and playing self-consciously on film.
So our families go way back... my grandmother knew Jim's mother...
The Gilleys were pillars of the Dallas First SDA Church on Central Expressway where my family attended and all of the kids attended the SDA church school there. The Gilley's four kids, about the same ages as my younger four siblings all played together too. I remember picking the phone up and hearing Jimmy Gilley (in fifth grade) crying, trying to "win back" my sister Heidi who he evidently had a crush on.
I have enough memories of the Gilleys to fill a book. Mr. Gilley, as I knew him before he was "pastor Gilley," with his charming and always calm smile, his slurred melodious voice and his gracious wife always at his side. Our families, along with the Collums, were the ones with the large homes and we were always entertaining--giving each other showers and surprise parties and occasionally spending a fourth of July or New Year's Eve together. We had fun.
Jim and Camille are there in my most wonderful childhood memories, laughing, singing: at school, at church, at ingathering, at church or school sponsored events. They were a big part of my childhood formation.
But I have to say, I don't remember our families ever really speaking about religion or spiritual things--or of Ellen White or the Investigative Judgement or even of the Sabbath. We had enormous fun as "gladventists." To me, I thought of Jim as more of a business man than a pastor.
When my parents moved to Keene, Texas so that our family could attend Southwestern Adventist College, soon the Gilley's followed suit as well as several other prominent Dallas Adventist families. We were bringing Dallas liberalism to the "holy city."
Jim rose in the SDA ranks rather later in life. He became a pastor and eventually did something with the General Conference. The last time I saw them was when they, as always, graciously opened there home for us to stay with them near the General Conference in DC. It was so fun for my family to hear some of Jim's fabulous adventure stories, as well as the horrible time he had with shingles.
Now Jim Gilley is head of the ailing 3ABN (Three Angels' Broadcasting Network). I was so glad to hear that he was placed there. Jim is good at bringing humor and relaxation to whatever he is doing. I wish him the very best. Jim is one of the reasons I think Adventism will eventually become a mainstream religion. Unless he has sincerely become orthodox as he grows older (and I guess some do sometimes) he will melt the radicalism of the SDA conservatives with his generous smile.
Dear Mr. Gilley,
HI! HOW ARE YOU? Wow, I miss our families having fun together. Wish we could all just go back to those simple days at the Dallas Church....
Please use this opportunity you have to influence your church about abortion. Mr. Gilley, the SDA church is really a one-commandment church because of its exclusive promotion of the fourth commandment, when our society is collapsing under the weight of sin of ALL Christ's commandments. I know you aren't going to jump into a picket line, that is not your style. But you have enormous pull--a quiet strength, that can mean all the difference. You can be a silent hero of Adventism. Take the opportunity.
Love you SOOO much, tell your beautiful wife that we said hello.
Little Tesa Fry! (Now Beem)