I knew Pastor (Bishop) Gary R Langley before he was ever a pastor or a bishop. He was my youth leader back in the mid-late 1970s at the West Huntsville Church of God of Prophecy. He was also a drummer, and later pianist....
He was a wonderful choir director as well. I remember the very first "musical" I ever sang in--"Alleluia! A Praise Gathering for Believers" by Bill and Gloria Gaither. We did this production for Christmas, 1977. I sang the solo for "Get All Excited"......I remember it like it was yesterday.
I remember Gary's wonderful sense of humor, and his very kind ways towards most of us in his youth group(s). I remember him "Pickin through First Peter" in the Wednesday night--as a matter of fact, I probably still have those notes somewhere in all my "treasures" (boxes that haven't been opened in 20 years or more).
As a Viet Nam veteran, this wonderful friend continually inspires me to be more patriotic, and to love my country. He answered the nation's call to duty when "answering that call" wasn't the "en vogue" and popular thing to do. He served honorably, and returned home to a deeply divided nation. My generation (and all subsequent generations) owe this great veteran a debt we can never repay.
He always had a "listening ear"---one that I seem to have abused more than once during my teenage years. At the time he and his (still) gorgeous bride, Amy, were the "guiding lights" for a lot of us teenagers who needed to know that someone truly cared. Gary and Amy always truly cared.
The last time I physically saw the two of them was in September 1982 in Cleveland, TN--and they were contemplating a move to the Hawaiian Islands. Shortly thereafter, the Langleys were moving to the other side of the United States---WAAAAY to the other side.
I lost touch temporarily with them...but eventually was able to get back in contact.
I'm not sure that Gary was ever really "running from God"--because he was always faithful in his service to the local church--but somewhere along his life's journey, Gary Langley came to the point that God wanted him to commit his entire life to professional church ministry. He has served as an associate pastor, a senior pastor (where he still serves) and also as a denominational leader. He has returned to school, and is almost finished with his Master's Degree from Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California). He is bettering himself, and proving himself a "workman that needs not to be ashamed--rightly dividing the Word of Truth."
Gary has always been one of my most trusted "sounding boards" when I needed a solid, grace-filled, scriptural view of something. He and I have "differing opinions" on a lot of the political stuff....and that's just the way it is....
But I have always trusted Gary Langley with some of the most "personal" details of my life....and I still do.