Students at commencement

Meet the Faculty

Janet L. Ramsey

Janet L. Ramsey

Pastor George Weinman Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology and Ministry

  • Ph.D. (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
  • Ordained (ELCA)
  • M.Div. (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia)
  • M.A.R. (Yale University Divinity School)


Dr. Janet Ramsey joined the Luther Seminary faculty as the associate professor of congregational care leadership in spring 2002. Her title, a new one at Luther Seminary, signals a philosophical and theological change in modern-day pastoral care. Today, the pastor is no longer seen as the sole caregiver in a congregation, but as the one who models care and leads congregations to be caring communities.

The variety of situations in which Ramsey has served have prepared her to understand ministry in both parish and specialized settings. Fifteen years prior to teaching at Luther Seminary, she combined counseling, supervising, community service, parish ministry, research, writing and part-time teaching. Most recently, she served as supervisor/counselor at the Pastoral Counseling Center of the Roanoke Valley and as a pastoral associate at St. John's Episcopal Church, both in Roanoke, Va.

In 1995, Ramsey received her doctorate in family and child development, with a concentration in adult development and aging, from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va. Earlier she received a master of divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1980 and, in 1976, a master of arts degree in religion from Yale University Divinity School, New Haven, Conn. She earned her bachelor of arts degree, with a major in English literature, from Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa., in 1967.

In 1985, Ramsey was ordained as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Her first call was as chaplain at the Virginia Synod Lutheran Home, where she later became chaplain/administrator. She then accepted a call as full-time parish pastor from St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Vinton, Va. She is licensed as a marriage and family therapist and is a diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

Ramsey has authored a book with Rosemary Blieszner called Spiritual Resiliency in Older Women: Models of Strength for Challenges through the Life Span (Sage, 1999). Her most recent article publications include Spiritual Resiliency in Later Life: Implications for Family, Educators and Practitioners (Family Focus, Vol. 48. 2003); Caring at a Distance: A Need for Spiritual Resiliency (Link, 2003); Uncovering Spiritual Resiliency through Feminist, Qualitative Methods (Journal of Religious Gerontology, Vol. 14, 2002) and Spiritual Intimacy in Later Life: Implications for Clinical Practice (Generations, Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 2001). She has also written a chapter called Transcending a Lifetime of Losses: Older Women as Role Models of Spiritual Resiliency in the Loss and Trauma Handbook, Vol. II, (Taylor and Francis Group Publishing Group, 2000).

She is a member of many professional organizations, including the American Society on Aging, the National Counsel on Family Relations and the Gerontological Society of America.



A theoretical and practical examination of how faith makes a difference as we age, particularly during middle and later years. A life span approach is used to explore the gifts of increasing spiritual maturity and personal wisdom. Traditional and emerging metaphors of spirituality are explored and special Attention given to the themes of religious practices, vocation, affect, interpersonal relationships and creativity as they appear in the narratives of spiritually resilient older adults who are grounded in spiritual communities.

CG 3520 50GRIEF DEATH AND DYING Spring Semester 2014-2015

An investigation of the nature and dynamics of grief. This course engages grief both in the intimacy of personal relationship, as well as grief arising from loss of employment, church closure, and other forms of communal loss. Discussion of communal and one-on-one forms of caring for those who are grieving, with analysis of the theology of grief implicit in such care, particularly in relation to questions of theodicy. Special attention is paid to the communal care elements of funerals and other forms of ritual in times of loss, as well as challenges arising for communities in multi-faith contexts.

CG 3525 01MINISTRY WITH OLDER ADULTS January Term 2014-2015

An exploration of spiritual, sociological, physiological, and psychological dimensions of aging, together with an assessment of the relationship of older persons to the life and mission of the church. Attention is given to both lay and pastoral care givers’ roles in relating to older persons within the congregation and other church-related settings, and to the impact of these roles within the larger community. Both students anticipating future service in a parish setting and those preparing for vocations in a specialized ministry settings are appropriate learners for this course.