The former Theological School dean was committed to activism and scholarship
January 2023 – Drew Theological School is mourning the loss of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Warren Ogletree, who passed away on Wednesday, January 4. He was 89 years old.
Ogletree served as dean of the Theological School from 1981 to 1990. He then served as dean of Yale Divinity School until 1996. An ordained United Methodist minister, he previously served as pastor of congregations in Alabama, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.
His passion for social justice started as an adolescent, delivering newspapers in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama, where he encountered “the evils and cruelties of racism.”
Soon after he completed his PhD at Vanderbilt University, Ogletree was involved in the sit-in movement of activist James Lawson, known as the “architect of the Civil Rights Movement.” As a dean, professor, father, and student, Ogletree’s commitment to activism and scholarship was lifelong.
“We in the Drew Theological School community are deeply saddened at the passing of Dr. Ogletree,” said Dean Edwin David Aponte. “As one of his successors as dean of the Theological School, I can confidently say that we all still benefit from the accomplishments of his vision and faithful leadership in the church, theological education, and the work of social justice. We at Drew will continue to build upon Dr. Ogletree’s legacy.”
Ogletree was an accomplished author of five books; The World Calling: The Church’s Witness in Politics and Society, Christian Faith and History: A Critical Comparison of Ernst Troeltsch and Karl Barth, The Death of God Controversy; The Use of the Bible in Christian Ethics, and Hospitality to the Stranger: Dimensions of Moral Understanding.
He has published numerous scholarly articles in journals, encyclopedias, and essay collections and was editor of Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal and a founding editor of The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics.