Dr. Elwood Raphael Gray was born in Warsaw, Virginia, and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where he attended Frances Ellen Harper Elementary; Carrollton Junior High School and Douglass Senior High School, Dr. Elwood Gray, Jr. is the founder and president of The National Coalition of Prison Ministries as well as the pastor of Peace in the Valley Baptist Church, a member of the alumni at Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD) where he has served as an instructor in the Continuing Education Department. He is also the Editor of” The Messenger” a newsletter published by the National Coalition of Prison Ministries. The zenith of his credentials includes a Doctor of Divinity and a Masters of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity along with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Shaw University. Dr. Gray is the president and founder of the National Coalition of Prison Ministries established in 1985.He is a member and past president of the Black Ministers Conference of Montgomery Maryland. Prior to his tenure at Patuxent Institution as Administrative Chaplain, Dr. Gray was the Staff Chaplain for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections for Twenty years.
Dr. Gray is presently working on a book, entitled “Purple Passion: A Spiritual Confrontation within the African American Family”, that focuses on the spiritual and physical health of the black family, the sociopolitical and socioeconomic factors within the institution of family from a historical context and their interpretive consequence for the church and community today. His most closely studied writings include his dissertation, entitled “The Impact of Religion at Patuxent Institution as Influenced by the National Coalition of Prison Ministries”.
Each year Dr. Gray conducts study tours and seminars at jails; detention facilities and prisons across America and the resulting scholarship imparts qualities to his lectures and sermons resulting in fresh insight and hermeneutical extrapolations that keep him in high demand across the nation. He works with Project Director to manage, implement, and evaluate project activities of the National Coalition of Prison Ministries for offenders; former offenders and the children of incarcerated parents and other projects such as the tutorial program for the children of incarcerated parents. He provides staff support for the National Coalition of Prison Ministries to collaborative with groups comprised of leaders from various cultural; ethnic; racial and religious and social economic backgrounds in order to establish a safety net for the under-served population of individuals returning to the community.
He works with the Project Director to monitor public policies and prepare policy documents regarding access to resources for offenders; former offenders and their families especially the children of incarcerated parents.
Dr. Gray manages work groups, including the covering of key staff from the Hispanic and other minority groups that appear to be under represented in the criminal justice system service areas. He develops and manages collaborative relationships with external agencies and organizations involved in prison ministry, referral access, and health issues confronting this special group.
He provides presentations, training, and technical assistance to organizations involved in expanding their in-prison and re-entry programming and improving access to resources for this population and other under-served persons affected by criminal activities.
He works with the Directors of Prison Ministry from various organizations to develop new projects and new grant proposals for submission to private and governmental offices.
He serves as a liaison to religious; private and governmental faith-based organizations such as area churches; mosques and temples along with merchants and city; county and state agencies. He responds to their requests for inter action with offenders; former offenders and/or the children of incarcerated parents.
He prepares progress reports and other project documents relevant to the impact of the criminal justice system upon the community and its citizens in general.
He is an active member of the community this is shown by his various memberships; The Missionary Baptist Ministers' Conference of Washington D.C. and Vicinity; NAACP; American Correctional Association; The Black Ministers Conference of Montgomery County; Vietnam Veterans of America; NABVETS; Maryland Military Coalition; Montgomery County Maryland Commission on Veterans Affairs; American Minority Veterans Research Project; Board member for the Church Association for Community Services. Dr. Gray is a former member of the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board. He is also founder of the Lean on Me Martial Arts and Academic Academy and is a Vietnam Veteran and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division.
In addition, he is presently engaged in the writing of his manuscript “The African American Male: the Most Vilified, the Most Hated and the Most Misunderstood Being on this Planet”. Dr. Gray has just recently finished composing the play, “Dog Tag” with inserts share by Vashti Gray and others. Finally, he has teamed-up with The African American Health Program and others in order to make a significant difference in the lives of those impacted by the present day Pandemic.