Rev. Dr. John Kilzer, our dear colleague and faculty member, passed away Tuesday, March 12th at the age of 62.

John was a leader for us in our addiction recovery program, a gifted scholar, an even more gifted singer/songwriter, and a sweet spirit. 

John Kilzer was an integral part of the Memphis Theological Seminary community. He came to MTS as a student knowing that he had a call to ministry shaped by his own struggles, and vulnerabilities, and hope for redemption.

He put his MDiv degree to work in a ministry devoted to listening and the always present possibility of recovery and wholeness, if we attend to the God-sized hole in our hearts that only God can fill.

John’s kindness and compassion were known by people from the streets and people in the highest places. He called everyone he met “friend” because he knew in faith and love that the “other” always pointed to the Other, to the Sacred Presence, to God.

His songs reflected his ability to empathetically and poetically enter into the suffering and scars endemic to human life and recognize the deep presence of a redemptive possibility for each person. His music reflected his joy and his soulful journey marked by sorrow and hope.

His final class at MTS, still going this semester, was “Cardiognosis—a knowing of the heart.” What our hearts can certainly know is that John Kilzer as a beloved child of God tried in his life to share that Gracious love with others. May we join in prayer in thanksgiving for his life.