Rev. Dr. Lee Ramsey, the Marlon and Sheila Foster Professor of Pastoral Theology and Homiletics, will be retiring this year after twenty-four years at Memphis Theological Seminary. An ordained United Methodist Minister, he will also be retiring from his position as the pastor of Elm Grove United Methodist Church in Burlison, Tennessee. Ramsey is the author of Preachers and Misfits, Prophets and Thieves: The Minister in Southern Fiction and Care-full Preaching: From Sermon to Caring Community.

A native of Georgia, Ramsey has frequently used fiction and film in his teaching and preaching to engage the imagination of Christian leaders. He has published papers and presented on topics such as “The Faces of Grief in Fiction and Film,” “A View from the Pews: Flannery O’Connor and Practical Theology,” and “The Minister in Southern Fiction.”

Ramsey was also the Principle Writer and Project Director for a Sustaining Pastoral Excellence grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. From 2003 to 2010, Ramsey provided executive leadership for all aspects of this $3 million grant and resulting program designed to sustain more than 100 pastors and congregations from across the Mid-South for continued excellence in Christian ministry. In his time at MTS, Ramsey also served as the Director and Associate Director of the Methodist House of Studies.

One of Ramsey’s former students, Noah Quinton (MDiv, ‘15), Chaplain at West Cancer Center, said, “When I came to seminary I knew I had an interest in pastoral care and chaplaincy work, and Dr. Ramsey was such an invaluable resource throughout my entire experience. I always enjoyed the courses he offered, and tried to take as many as I could, because I knew he would provide such a gracious and challenging learning environment. I gained so much from his courses on Rituals and Pastoral Care and Pastoral Care through the Life Stages, especially, and I continue to use the resources and experiences from those courses in my everyday work as a hospital chaplain. Dr. Ramsey was so kind throughout my seminary experience and has continued to show genuine interest in my chaplaincy work. What a great asset he has been to me and the many other students he has taught at MTS over the years.”

“Dr. Lee Ramsey is known for his thoughtful attention to the spiritual and emotional well being of students, faculty, and staff at MTS,” Dr. Peter Gathje said, “He has not only been a professor of Pastoral Care, he has provided that care in the classroom and among his colleagues by his gentle questions, scholarly pursuits, sense of humor, and clear empathy with each person he encounters. He has provided students with not only a clear introduction to pastoral care in the standard course of that name, but also the integration of pastoral care with preaching, worship, literature, film, times of grief, and the aging process. He has also served the broader church through his leadership of the Lilly Foundation’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative at MTS, the founding of the MTS Methodist House of Studies, his involvement with the recent Lilly Initiative, the Center for Faith and Imagination, and his pastoring work at a variety of churches. On faculty committees, Dr. Ramsey is known for his collegiality, his commitment to the integrity of process, and respectful dialogue. For nearly a quarter century Dr. Ramsey has served the MTS community as the embodiment of a person devoted to scholarship, deeply engaged in the life of faith, and committed to the well being of others at both personal and institutional levels. His thoughtful and pastoral presence will be greatly missed.”

President Jody Hill said, “Dr. Ramsey has been an important part of our educational ministry for over twenty years! While teaching our students how to more effectively offer pastoral care, he has continued to serve the local congregation as a minister in the UMC. He will be deeply missed as a part of our seminary community, and we pray God’s blessings upon him and Mary Leslie as they transition to this new phase of life and ministry.”

“Thank you to so many who have made my time of teaching and learning at MTS a joy beyond measure,” Dr. Ramsey said. “I will feel the loss of regular contact with students, teaching colleagues, faculty, and staff, no doubt, for the rest of my life. Yet I move on, with great hopes for the future of MTS and its remarkable ministry and mission within the Mid-South and beyond. For those who do not yet know about Memphis Theological Seminary, and its mission of promoting scholarship, piety, and justice within church and community, and its longstanding commitment to justice for the commonwealth, I hope you will check out this amazing place of learning and Christian action. For those who do know of the Seminary’s past and present commitments, I join you in thanking God for MTS, and for the good fortune to have landed in a Christian community that strives, as Dr. Carlyle Marney once said, to be ‘a little plot of the Kingdom of God.’ My deep thanks to all as I move on to the next chapter with a loving family, good friends, and within the company of strangers who by the grace of Christ are somehow my own brothers and sisters. Only God can make it so!”