Q & A with Rev. Chris Ramsey

7/8/2013

Rev. Chris Ramsey, Statesboro District Superintendent

“I believe that every Christian is a minister.”

This is the second in a two-part series that will introduce the new District Superintendents.

ADVOCATE: Where did you grow up?  Have you always lived in South Georgia?

REV. RAMSEY: For the most part, I grew up in southeastern Ohio. After high school, I attended Ohio University where I earned an Electrical Engineering degree. Not long after graduation, my family and I moved to Glynn County, Ga., where we began attending Saint Simons United Methodist Church, which is our home church.

ADVOCATE: What’s your faith journey? 
REV. RAMSEY: I grew up and was confirmed in The United Methodist church. As a small boy I remember watching my parents as they served in many different capacities including teaching Sunday school and various types of committee work. Through their example, I learned the joy of serving Christ and received a good foundational understanding of Christian values.  

I believe I was in the second grade when I began serving as an acolyte during Sunday morning worship services. As a freshman in high school I was permitted to join the chancel choir.  I also found that I enjoyed serving others doing mission work. As I matured, I began to more fully understand the unconditional love of God that is found within a church family. I have to admit, throughout my entire life I have been blessed to have never been without a loving church family and the benefits that God provides to us all in fellowship with each other. This led me to desire nothing more that to share with others this same feeling of sanctuary within the arms of Christ that I felt. I was given the opportunity to act upon this in a new and exciting way as I began working as a youth pastor during my second year of college. This is also when I understood my future calling to vocational ministry.  
 
ADVOCATE: Tell us about your ministry philosophy and your guiding principles.
REV. RAMSEY: I believe that every Christian is a minister. Most of us understand that God blesses each and every Christ follower with specific gifts to grow the kingdom as described in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4. Therefore, each of us, as we accept our baptism, also accepts a responsibility and calling to service. As we read Ephesians 4:12, we find the real reason that we are given these gifts, “...to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” When we embrace our responsibilities as Christians, our spirits commune with Christ on a new and exciting level. This is when we truly begin to feel what it means to be a child of God and the fellowship of being a contributing member of His family.  Jesus Christ gave us two guiding principles that I strive to live by. The first is found in Luke 10: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.” The second is found in John 13:34: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” As we follow these basic principles, Christ will open the door for us to live out our vision and mission to grow a Christ like world.

ADVOCATE: You have gotten good perspective on the Annual Conference having served in three districts – Waycross, Valdosta and Americus. How will these experiences help you in your new role as a District Superintendent?
REV. RAMSEY: Often the most effective way to learn is by example. Jesus regularly used this style of teaching, even as He astonished His adversaries. By serving in the three districts you mention, I have had the privilege to learn from and serve alongside some of the finest and most effective leaders in our conference. Presently, these three districts contain 216 churches. This has given me a broad perspective from which to learn and adapt a ministry style that will serve Christ in my new role as District Superintendent. I have also served under the supervision of six different, yet very effective, district superintendents, whom I feel have invested a part of themselves in me, and my growth as a pastor. I am thankful to God for having placed each one of them in my path. Each of these Spirit-led leaders, with their own styles and giftedness, continue to offer themselves to Christ unselfishly; some even into retirement.

ADVOCATE: What are your visions, goals and hopes for the district?
REV. RAMSEY: I learned early from my past experience that the greatest resource any organization has is the people who serve in that organization. Therefore, we all must invest ourselves so as to raise up future leaders who can clearly communicate the vision and purpose of our district, Annual Conference, and denomination. Additionally, we must be spiritually motivated to act upon that vision. I envision a well synchronized organization, so attuned to disciple making, that the process becomes second nature. The only way that this can happen is through the development of a disciple making plan, and then the commissioning of the plan into continued action.  Just like when we learn to play a musical instrument, or perfect our golf swing, practice is paramount. I would like for each church to accept as our goal the development, commissioning, and practice of a disciple making plan that leads those who need a church home to Christ. Our hope and purpose is to grow a Christ like world and to represent the nature of God by making disciples for Christ by being a sacred presence and influence in the world.

ADVOCATE: What are the things that most excite you about the Statesboro District or the South Georgia Conference? 
REV. RAMSEY: The Statesboro District has a long history of success. I see a tremendous amount of potential in the people, both clergy and laity, whom God has placed here to serve in this district. In the short time that I have been here, I have encountered numerous people who share my passion for leading the lost to Christ. I have found this district to contain people who are willing to do whatever it takes, let me repeat – whatever it takes – to create an environment that promotes and encourages spiritual growth and success. Nothing touches my heart and excites me more than witnessing the healing and joy that is experienced by someone as he or she accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior. 

ADVOCATE: What are some of the biggest challenges you see facing the Conference or District?
REV. RAMSEY: We are beginning a time of transition. We have been asked not only by the membership of our Annual Conference, but also by God, to examine the way we do ministry to become more effective and efficient  in our task of making disciples for Christ. We are now beginning to chart new ground. This is not something that’s new to the secular world.  Corporations have been doing this very thing for several decades. Doing more with less is always a challenge to process and methodology. Failure is not an option. We have been charged with rethinking, revisiting, and revising not only the structure of our districts, but also our effectiveness in making disciples for Christ.  As a part of Christ’s Church, our product is disciples for Christ.  If we fail to make disciples, then we have no product.  Our challenge is to do so more efficiently as we move into the future.

ADVOCATE: What do you like best about serving in the South Georgia Conference?
REV. RAMSEY: I enjoy serving in the South Georgia Annual Conference because I am blessed to serve alongside people who have a passion to live out our mission to make disciples for Christ, and who truly care about each other. Within the South Georgia Annual Conference I see Christ working through the people of our Conference.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have witnessed our connectional system working to nurture and grow leaders to advance the gospel.  This, as much as anything else, has shown me that indeed God has given us a small glimpse of heaven on earth in the South Georgia Annual Conference.

ADVOCATE: How do you, in the midst of your busy schedule and your traveling, make time for your quiet time, prayer, and Bible study?  
REV. RAMSEY: Making, or rather reserving, time to listen to God is something we all must be intentional about so that we can remain connected to the source of all life.  Most of us can recall at least a couple pieces of scripture that record Jesus emphasizing staying connected.  There are so many things in life that compete for our time that we must prioritize those that are of greater importance. The spiritual disciplines you mention are some of the most effective ways in which God has blessed us so as to stay connected. Interestingly enough, the busier our schedules, the more we must prioritize and practice our spiritual disciplines.  They give us strength when we need it the most. If Satan can’t make you bad, he will try to make you busy; either way, without prioritizing our connection to the vine that is Jesus Christ, we become ineffective in our work for Christ. The first step to reserving time to listen to God is recognizing it as a necessity. The second step is understanding it as a priority.

ADVOCATE: Tell us about your family.
REV. RAMSEY: I have been married 33 years to my high school sweetheart, Jane. She continues to be a true partner in both life and our ministry. We have three children: Katy Ramsey McRae, Sean Ramsey, and Maggie Ramsey. We also have three grand children, Peyton McRae, 8 years old; Alexis McRae, 5 years old; and Nicholas Ramsey, 5 months old. If anyone is interested, I do have pictures!

ADVOCATE: What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies and interests?
REV. RAMSEY: I enjoy outdoor sports, playing guitars, and reading books that help me be more effective or learn how to do new things.

ADVOCATE: What’s a fact about you that most people don’t know?
REV. RAMSEY: I have had 13,800 Volts go through me, and I was a coal miner when I was in college.