The Rev. J. Patrick Gray, 50, an Episcopal priest whose desire to extend his ministry beyond his parish led him to attend law school and receive an advanced degree in international affairs, died Aug. 28 at the Capital Hospice in Arlington. He had pancreatic cancer.
Father Gray, whose passions were preaching and teaching, served in recent years in the Diocese of Virginia as interim rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Russell Road in Alexandria and Trinity Episcopal Church in Arlington, and as priest assistant at St. Luke's Episcopal in Alexandria and Trinity Episcopal in Manassas. He also served as honorary chaplain for St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School in Alexandria.
In 1976, he graduated cum laude from the University of St. Thomas in his native Houston. He majored in English literature.
After college, he was a Winant-Clayton volunteer in Manchester, England, where he worked with physically disabled children. Called to the ordained ministry, he received a master of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1980 and was ordained deacon in the Diocese of Texas at his home parish, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Houston. In the 1980s, he served Texas churches in Lampasas, Carthage and Houston.
In 1987, Father Gray became rector to the historic Church of the Cross in Bluffton, S.C. He returned to the Washington area in 1989. He lived in Falls Church.
While working in various Virginia parishes, Father Gray became increasingly interested in human rights issues, particularly religious freedom in the former Soviet Union. His interest prompted him to complete work in 1992 for a master of arts degree in liberal studies at Georgetown University, with an emphasis on international affairs. His thesis at Georgetown explored the KGB's infiltration of the Orthodox Church, and he came to know several Russian Christians just as the Soviet Union was breaking up and religious freedom was becoming a reality.
Father Gray received his juris doctorate from the Washington College of Law at American University in 1997. He was a consultant on religious liberty for the Institute for Religion and Democracy and a law clerk at the Ackerson Group in the District. He looked forward to work as a trial lawyer.
Although ill health forced him to retire from the ministry in 1998, he continued to teach and preach when he was able. He maintained his quick wit, as well as his encyclopedic knowledge of rock and roll.
Survivors include his wife of 26 years, Harriet Hutson Gray; three children, Tyler Gray, Kevin Gray and Rebecca Gray, all of Falls Church; and a sister.