Street preaching, which was an integral part of Americana as recent as 50 years ago, is considered a “lost art,” today – but there’s one preacher in town who’s determined to keep it alive.

Billy “Guitar” Grady, who hails from Ferris, has, since 1974, taken every opportunity to preach – either in churches, nursing homes, back and front yards and on street corners.

But he doesn’t just preach – he accompanies himself on a guitar, keyboard and even keeps the beat with a bass drum, singing his own compositions – and in fact, has had a CD of his sacred gospel music published.

“When the weather is warm, I’ll average getting out in the front yard about once a week and I’ll just start preaching and singing,” Grady said. “Usually a crowd will gather around and listen – and while I’m singing, some kids down the street will start dancing – I just simply preach holiness, living right and how much Jesus loves people and that he’s coming back one day real soon.”

But Grady didn’t always preach the good news – he told about how he got started on the path toward a life of ministry.

“I had Christian parents that loved the Lord and they taught me to love him, but I had gotten away from it,” Grady said. “I remember that I prayed back in 1974 and told the Lord that I was going to give up my smoking and drinking and drugs and was going to start serving him.”

Grady has preached on the street corners in downtown Dallas and has been featured at Renfro’s Healthcare Center and when he is at his home in Ferris, he sets up his musical instruments and starts singing and when some of the neighbors gather, he preaches to them.

Asked how people respond to his impromptu outdoor church services, Grady said they are mixed.

“Lots of people will tell me that they enjoy the music and preaching, but some people will speak up and just ask me how I know that God is real. I just tell them, ‘Well why don’t you look up at the sun – look all around you and tell me God isn’t real,’ ” Grady said with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

Grady noted that he and his wife are talking about making a trip to Chicago soon and taking his message and his music to its streets.

He served as pastor of a church in Dallas and also was a regular featured preacher at a chapel in a retirement center there.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.