John Gray Memorial Church


In 1845, the Rev. Hope Waddell of the Scottish Presbyterian Church was on his way from Jamaica to West Africa, to do missionary work there, when the ship he and his family were travelling on was wrecked on the reef at East End, Grand Cayman. He recorded that there were about 1,500 inhabitants but no Church or school, even though the Church of England and the Wesleyans had at one time been represented here. The people received them “with avidity…and implored us to make known their destitute condition, and procure them a missionary”. The next year, 1846, the Rev. James Elmslie arrived to take up the challenge of bringing the knowledge of God to the Island. He laboured for 12 years establishing congregations in the principal districts.

The Church in Cayman has always been a part of the Synod in our neighbouring island of Jamaica. In 1965, the Presbyterian and Congregational denominations in Jamaica joined and, even though there was no established Congregational mission in Cayman, the move was welcomed here and thus the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman was born.1992 saw the celebration of the joining of the Disciples of Christ to the union and so our Christian family has grown.

The first groups that Rev. Elmslie established were called Mission Stations. When they grew strong enough and were ready to take on the responsibility, they were ‘congregated’. Bodden Town was the first to be congregated, then George Town. When George Town was congregated West Bay (along with North Side) became a mission station of George Town. It remained this way until May 1908 when West Bay was congregated and we celebrated our 100th Anniversary in 2008. In March 1994 this fellowship was dedicated as the John Gray Memorial Church, in honour of a much beloved former Minister. Therefore, the United Church has been an integral part of the West Bay community for over 163 years. It was the first church to take root and continue in the Island.

Presently there are congregations in North Side, Gun Bay, East End, Bodden Town, Savannah, George Town, South Sound, Crewe Road and West Bay.

John Gray Memorial Church