Dr. Stephen Ray

Stephen RayRev. Dr. Ken Matto describes a minister who has a “pastor’s heart” as someone who “has a genuine calling on their life to shepherd a flock of God’s people. This person possesses a gentle spirit, and that spirit is able to counsel a person one-on-one or an entire congregation (or class). He is someone who can be trusted with confidential information. He is a leader who can guide and teach with all biblical absolutes and is unbiased in his decisions, and is someone who aptly teaches the word of God.”[1] 

These characteristics can be applied to describe Dr. Stephen G. Ray, Jr. Since 2008, he has been the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Professor of Systematic Theology. He is currently serving as the Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean at Garrett and will be in this capacity through December 2013.  Dr. Ray describes himself as a Calvinist having a constructive theology which strives to make sense of the Christian faith in the face of contemporary challenges viewed from a particular (specific) spectrum.

If you talk to any of Dr. Ray’s former students, they would describe him as one who truly has a pastor’s heart and has the ability to discern discord among his students. He can minister to their needs at the time of their needs. In describing an incident this past semester regarding one of his classes and the anxiety they were feeling as many of them worked to complete their Integrative Project. Dr. Ray sensed that emotions were high, and he knew he couldn’t teach when the students were mentally distracted. He said he “had to make time to meet them at their need and address their anxiety; otherwise, he would not have been able to effectively teach them.” He describes it this way, “When you speak where people are; they can be present!”

Dr. Ray has a gift for encouraging students in their journey at seminary (Garrett) by letting them know that “their calling is worth their life and that the sacrifices they are making are (and will be) worth it.”  He also challenges students to give seminary their all and to not squander their seminary journey; because if they do, the very people who are depending on them will ultimately be the ones to suffer!”

When asked what brought him to Garrett five years ago, Dr. Ray said “Garrett offered him the opportunity to center his work on scholarship and students. At Garrett, he is able to do more work with PhD students and engage all of his students by being more attentive to them during class and beyond. At his core, Dr. Ray’s true calling is to be a preacher and pastor; and he is a theologian by trade. He does what he does because of the “love he has for the church and God’s people.”

 Through the end of this fall semester, Dr. Ray will focus most of his time and energy on serving as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean. In this capacity, Dr. Ray will address student issues, work with faculty to execute the curriculum and manage all the departments that deal with academic life. He will also work with President Amerson to execute projects that he wishes to complete before he retires in December.

Dr. Ray has authored two books: Silenced By the Night: A Constructive Reconstrual of the Protestant Doctrine of Sin and Do No Harm: Social Sin and Christian Responsibility. He edited and wrote the new forward for the 20th Anniversary Edition of We Have Been Believers: An African American Systematic Theology by James H. Evans. He has co-authored Black Church Studies: An Introduction, and has contributed to numerous other books, publications and articles.

In addition to his academic and published works, he is on the Board of Visitors for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) at Garrett and believes that the CBE continues to be relevant and “deserves our support.” He believes the “CBE needs people who will stand up and be witnesses to what God has given humanity through the Black church.”

Matto, Rev. Dr. Ken; “What is the Pastor’s Heart?” http://scionofzion.com/pastorsheart.htm

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