Beginning today, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Cecil Bray willbe able to make a profound declaration: "I pronounce you husband andwife."
Bray, 56, is becoming a minister.
He was scheduled to be ordained at 7 p.m. today at Immanuel's Church in Montgomery County, where he has been a member for three years.He will be able to marry couples, preside over funerals, baptize, and preach sermons, said the church's Senior Pastor Charles P. Schmitt.
"He's a very spiritually gifted man," Schmitt said, adding that Bray becomes the first black person to have a top leadership position in Immanuel's Church, which has 1,200 members.
Bray's title will be that of pastoral elder, Schmitt said. He will serve as a minister on a limited basis because of his full-time job with the county duringthe week.
Becoming a pastoral elder "is, of course, one of the most significant things that has happened in my life and an awesome responsibility," said the soft-spoken Bray last week in his county government office.
Bray said that after people decide to attend church,"they need to be cared for. They need someone to tell them they lovethem and (things) will be OK."
Since 1986, Bray has been the county's deputy administrative officer, with responsibilities for the county budget and other governmental issues.
Bray predicts that becoming a pastoral elder won't affect his secular duties. If it does, it can only be a positive change, he said.
"The No. 1 in my life is my relationship with God. If that's going all right, it puts everything else in proper order," Bray said.