Charter for Racial Justice

Leader: Ret. Judge Jon Gray

RECORDED September 30



We commit ourselves as individuals and as a community to follow Jesus Christ in word and in deed and to struggle for the rights and the self-determination of every person and group of persons. Therefore, as United Methodists in every place across the land, we will unite our efforts within the Church and learn to take action against racism.

Black Methodists for Church Renewal

2023 Laity Leadership Institution

Sponsored by Black Methodists for Church Renewal Advocacy Committee

Charter for Racial Justice is the third of four courses for persons who want to deepen their understanding and response to God's call to ministry as a layperson, build skills, and relationships building, network, and equip leaders to minister in our churches and communities.  Each of these courses is 3 hours in length.

Laity Leadership Institution is an opportunity to provide guidance, direction, and motivation in leading Laity in a new and exciting way. Move Laity outside the walls of the Church and into the community. One way to accomplish this is a transformative mindset and framework, which includes these four 3-hour live online courses—embracing efforts to help people grow spiritually through such workshops.  As a Servant Lay Leader, these four courses have been created for personal vision and new ways to help your grow in your faith journey and unique skill sets in order to improve and strengthen your church’s ministries and beyond.

These courses are intended to equip, uplift and support all Laity Black Methodists for Church Renewal across all denominations, and the Church universal!

Register for one, two three or all four!

Charter for Racial Justice—Speaker Bio

Judge Jon R. Gray (Ret.) was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the youngest child of Rev. C. Jarrett Gray, Sr., a United Methodist pastor and Mai H. Gray, a career educator. His early education took place in the public schools of Kansas City, Missouri, East St. Louis, Illinois and Kansas City, Kansas. He graduated with honors from Paseo High School in Kansas City, Missouri, where he participated in student government, music and interscholastic athletics.

He graduated from Grinnell College (Iowa) in 1973 with an A.B. degree in participated in intercollegiate athletics, and received the President's Award as a member of Grinnell College Black Arts Ensemble. He graduated from UMKC School of Law in 1 he was Chief Justice of the UMKC Moot Court Board, and Chief Justice of the UM Court. Between his second and third year of law school, he was elected as one of representatives to serve in the American Bar Association House of Delegates representing the American Bar Association Law Student Division. During the last two years of law school, he received the prestigious Crusade Scholarship from the Board of Global Ministries Methodist Church.

Upon admission to The Missouri Bar, Judge Gray was appointed Assistant Jackson County Counselor and represented various county officials and departments, including, the Director of Revenue, the Medical Examiner, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Corrections, and the Jackson County Sheriff. After engaging in the solo practice of law, he became a principal and partner in the law firm of Gray Payne & Roque, and represented individuals and small businesses in a wide variety of civil matters. He was appointed by the Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, to serve on the Kansas City Human Relations Commission and as Chair of the Liquor Control Board of Review of Kansas City, Missouri. In 1981, he was appointed as Democratic Attorney for the Board of Election Commissioners of Kansas City, Missouri, and served in that capacity until he resigned to accept a judicial appointment.

Judge Gray was nominated by the Sixteenth Circuit Court Nominating Commission to fill a vacancy on the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. He was appointed Circuit Court Judge by Missouri Governor John Ashcroft on December 5, 1986 and assumed office on January 1, 1987. He was retained in office by voters at General Elections held in 1988, 1994, 2000 and 2006. During his active service as a member of the Judiciary, he presided over civil, criminal and family court matters and served a two-year rotating term as Administrative Family Court of Jackson County, Missouri. He sat by designation as a Special Missouri Supreme Court. Upon retirement from active service, he joined the int litigation firm of Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP as a partner in its Kansas City office.

He is a member of the Panel of Commercial Arbitrators of the American Arbitration and serves as a mediator and arbitrator for parties to commercial, employment, a disputes. As a citizen of the firm, Judge Gray chairs the Professional Development that is responsible for planning and executing all of the firm's continuing legal programs.

Judge Gray is a Golden Heritage Life Member of the NAACP, and is a member of Mt. Oread Lodge #76, F. & A.M., Kansas City Consistory #7, AASR, F. & A.M., Theta Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, and the Alumni Associations of Grinnell College, UMKC School of Law, and Paseo High School. Professionally, he is a member of the Missouri Bar, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association, the Jackson County Bar Association, the Eastern Jackson County Bar Association, the Missouri Judicial Conference, the Defense Research Institute, and the American Judges Association.

His extensive civic involvement includes distinguished service on the boards of directors of The Spofford Home for Children, the Kansas City Neighborhood Alliance, the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Truman Medical Centers, TMC Self Insurance Trust, The UMKC Law Foundation, Clymer Neighborhood Center, Swope Community Builders, Swope Community Enterprises, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation Missouri Division of Youth Services Advisory Board.

Since 1987, he has served as a faculty member for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy in regional and national trial practice programs, and formerly served as faculty for Edison Program in Trial Techniques at the Emory University School of Law. Judge Gray served as Program Faculty for the Missouri Judicial College and the Missouri Judicial Education Committee orientation program for newly elected and appointed judges.

During the 2007 - 2008 bar year, Judge Gray served as Chair of the Nation Judicial Council, the oldest and largest association of Black judges and judicial officers. Under his leadership, the National Bar Association Judicial Council received the outstanding Division of the Year Award, and he received a Presidential Award for outstanding service to the National Bar Association. He was featured in the Second and Third Edition of Black Judges in America and wrote the foreword of the inaugural edition of Who's Who in Black Kansas City. His reviews and commentaries have appeared in legal and non-law related publications.

He is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. In September 2014, he received the prestigious Spurgeon Smithson Award presented by The Missouri Bar Foundation.

He is also a previous recipient of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City Difference Maker Award, the Lewis W. Clymer Award from the Jackson County Bar Association, the Carl R. Johnson Humanitarian Award from the Kansas City, Missouri Branch of the NAACP, the H. Michael Coburn Community Service Award from Legal Aid of Western Missouri, the Rosa Parks Award from the Jefferson City NAACP, and the Stanley D. Davis Award for Excellence in Professional Development from Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP.

Judge Gray was appointed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to serve a term as a member of the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority, 2009 - 2013 and as a member of The Citizens' Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials, 2014-2016.

As an active layman in The United Methodist Church, Judge Gray's involvement in ecumenical affairs is the direct result of his upbringing in United Methodist parsonages member of the historic Centennial United Methodist Church and has served as a me board of The Missouri United Methodist Foundation and the governing board oft Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A. He was elected as a delegate to The United Church General Conferences of 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 by the Conference and its predecessor, the Missouri West Annual Conference. He was elected as the Board of Trustees of Southern Methodist University - Dallas, Texas, and served from 2000, as a member of its reconstituted Board of Trustees following the imposition of sanctions against the Southern Methodist University athletic program by the NCAA. He served a term on the Southern Methodist University Executive Committee and chaired its Legal Affairs Committee. In 2004, he was elected by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church to serve an eight-year term as a member of the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church, during which time he sat as a member of the Church's final arbiter of Church Law.

As a trusted adviser, he has served on numerous committees and task forces aimed at the improvement of the law and has advocated for equal treatment under law for all persons. He was a member of the original Missouri Bar Association task force that studied mandatory continuing legal education for all members of the Missouri Bar. Most recently, he served on a working group that studied and made recommendations to the Missouri Supreme Court concerning expert witness discovery in civil cases. He has been a consultant to the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation that conducted a peer review of the National Consumer Law Center. He was a contributing author for the 1991 and 2002 editions of the Black Kansas City, published by the Urban League of Greater Kansas City. Blacks in the Judiciary provided a community blueprint for educating the selection and led to the increase of people of color within the state and local judiciary members of judicial nominating commissions.

He credits the inspiration of his parents, family members, teachers, student and professional colleagues and lives by the words of John Wesley:

"Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can."

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