June 19, 2005 – Gary Moore's life has not always been an easy one. The present pastor at St. Croix Christian Church admits to making some wrong decisions while growing up in Chicago's inner city.
He says there were drugs, drug dealing and even membership in a gang.
But he was always being drawn to a better life. He says he was never too far from a church and always kept returning to school. He says, "I grew up on both sides of the tracks." That might explain why Moore finds being a minister so rewarding.
"I enjoy my job," he says. "I love getting up in the morning and getting at it."
Specifically, what he strives for is to be a positive force in changing someone's life. For him, there is nothing like seeing someone who's desperate and on the edge, coming around to be a productive, happy person who can then turn around and help others.
The fact that he earned a psychology degree from Trinity College in Illinois probably helps him play a part in such transformations. However, getting that degree was no easy task.
After graduating from Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago, Moore went to Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. However, he only did so in order to be with his high school sweetheart.
"We were there about a week, and we broke up. I just hung in there for a year," he says.
After that and maybe a few more wrong turns, he said he decided to "get serious" about his life in the late '70s. He then went to trade school, where he learned electrical wiring. From 1980 to 1990, he worked the trade — wiring houses, businesses and schools — and even formed his own electrical contracting company.
In 1982, he says he accepted Christ into his life and committed his life to Christianity.
After working three years as an electrician working in construction environments, Moore became ill. His doctors told him he was not going to get well if he stayed in the wiring business. So, it took almost seven more years but he went back to school and got out of construction.
He married Alicia in June of 1984. They began school at Trinity College in the fall. They both graduated from what is now called Trinity International University, an institution of the Evangeilical Free Church of America.
Alicia works as an administrator at St. Croix Christian.
Moore said he and his wife saw it as a challenge, coming down here to work together and trying not to let the work consume their lives. But so far it's working.
However, they still have a lot of work in front of them. When they came down in October 2002, they committed themselves to working and helping to expand the church's ministry over the next 20 years.
For the first two and half years, Moore said it was mostly just getting to know people. However, the church has moved ahead on some projects and is set to make progress on more.
On June 12, Moore and a group of parishioners returned from a small village about 18 miles from Juarez, Mexico, where they built a medical clinic. St. Croix Christian Church supplied all the finances for the building. A Christian youth group, Youths With a Mission of Trinidad, Colo., supplied about 75 volunteers, who helped St. Croix Christian members and other volunteers from around the country build the clinic.
Moore says he was able to use his electrical wiring skills there but emphasized that he spent a lot of time encouraging members of the small, poor Mexican community to work together.
He adds that members of the St. Croix church also found the experience encouraging. He said they now know that they can have an impact on the their own community.
He said the church is deciding this summer on a major project to pursue on St. Croix. It might have to do with helping youngsters or women. The church is presently involved with the Lighthouse Mission in Christiansted and also helps people trying to overcome their addictions.
Moore says that St. Croix, in many ways, reminds him of Chicago.
He says that on St. Croix there appears to be some "reverse discrimination": a sense of resentment by West Indians toward those coming down from the states. He explains that mainland Americans can complicate the problem by trying to make West Indians confirm to stateside values. He says the cure for this is for both groups to talk to each other.
St. Croix Christian Church is interdenominational, and Moore says the congregation spans the whole spectrum — from liberal to conservative Christians and "everything in between."
The congregation also contains a great cultural diversity of people from all over the states and from various islands. Moore says that giving a sermon to such a diverse group can be a challenge. But he is quick to add it is a challenge that he enjoys and one that has its own rewards.
St. Croix Christian Church is located in Orange Grove, in the same building that houses the Caribbean Community Theater. The phone number is 778- 3130.
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