Senior Pastor (1919-1931)
On the last Sunday in January 1919, Reverend Walter Gay of Hartford, Connecticut came to
supply the pulpit for six months as interim minister. At the expiration of that time, he was unanimously called to the permanent pastorate. Soon after adjusting himself to the situation, a romance developed between Rev. Gay and Mrs. Lena Morton which culminated in their marriage in Hartford,Connecticut in May 1920. The church tendered the bride and groom a house-warming on their return from their honey moon trip.
While he was in charge of the church, there were many improvements and over one hundred additions to the membership. A parsonage was purchased; $4,000 paid on it and a mortgage of $1,700 remained.
Public worship was maintained and largely attended. Two societies were added to the working force of the church: the Messiah Baptist Brotherhood and the Young People’s Union.
After twelve years of leadership with its many exacting duties and perplexing problems, failing health prompted Dr. Gay to resign as pastor and thus conserve his remaining strength for the sunset of life. His retirement afforded him the opportunity to visit and serve as a guest speaker on different occasions in many nearby churches as well as Messiah.
He passed away October 31, 1937 in Hartford. His funeral was preached by the pastor of Messiah assisted by Dr. J.C. Jackson, Dr. I. W. Reed, Dr. J.B. Pharr, and Dr. Wright. He was laid to rest in the family lot in Hartford, leaving to mourn his widow, Mrs. Lena Morton Gay, and several sons, a daughter and many friends. On the occasion of his death, Messiah Baptist Church and auxiliaries sent a design in the form of a huge cross of cut flowers.