Virginia Ramey Mollenkott Ph.D.
1932 - 2020
Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, PhD

Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott entered the great company of the Saints in Light at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 25, 2020. Born in Philadelphia on January 28, 1932 she married Frederick H. Mollenkott in 1954, had a son, Paul F. Mollenkott, 1958; divorced in 1973; & married J. Suzannah Tilton on September 26, 2013. She earned her B.A. from Bob Jones University, 1953; M.A. Temple University, 1955; & her Ph.D. from New York University, 1964, receiving the Founder's Day Award for the highest scholastic achievement & Andiron Club Award for the most meritorious doctoral dissertation in the Department of English (Milton & the Apocrypha). In 1989 Samaritan College awarded her an honorary Doctor of Ministries. She received the 1979 Integrity Award for "extraordinary support of the gay Christian movement" & was lauded by the National Council of Churches for her work on its Inclusive Language Lectionary Committee. She taught at Temple & Bob Jones Universities, chaired English Departments at Shelton College, Ringwood, NJ, & Nyack College, Nyack, NY, & taught for three decades at William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ, retiring in 1997 as Professor of English Emerita. The second half of her 44-year academic career saw her development of specializations in feminist, lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender theologies.

Virginia served on multiple Boards & editorial committees: Pacem in Terris, Warwick, NY; Upper Room AIDS Ministry, Harlem; Kirkridge Retreat & Conference Center, Bangor, PA; & chaired the National Advisory Board for Evangelicals Concerned. She delivered hundreds of lectures on feminist & LGBT theologies in the United States & Canada, including at Princeton, Harvard, Duke, Cornell, Wheaton, Wellesley & Perkins School of Theology and was a Stylistic Consultant for the New International Version of the Bible.

Dr. Mollenkott's thirteen books include Is the Homosexual My Neighbor: A Positive Christian Response, 1978 (with Letha Dawson Scanzoni) revised 1994; The Divine Feminine: Biblical Imagery of God as Female, 1983; Sensuous Spirituality: Out from Fundamentalism, 1982 (revised 2008); Omnigender: A Trans-Religious Approach, 2001 (won the Lambda Literary Award & the Ben Franklin Award in 2002) revised 2007; & Transgender Journeys, 2003 (with Vanessa Sheridan). Her academic & church-related publications include over 150 articles & book reviews.

A trans-religious Christian & Christian feminism pioneering giant, she was a founding member of the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women's Caucus, now known as Christian Feminism Today. She led Sisterly Conversations & co-led Gay, Lesbian & Christian retreats at Kirkridge Retreat Center with Father John McNeil for 23 years. She was awarded the 1992 NJ Lesbian & Gay Coalition's Achievement Award, the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment) & was the 2017 inaugural recipient of the Mother Eagle Award by Christian Feminism Today & the Q Christian Fellowship. Her papers are archived at Pacific School of Religion's Center for LGBTQ & Gender Studies, Berkeley, CA.

Virginia lived in Hewitt, NJ, partnered with Debra L Morrison for 16 yrs. & then 21 yrs. partnered & married to Judith Suzannah Tilton after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. They moved into Cedar Crest Village in Pompton Plains, NJ in 2008 where Virginia taught numerous Elderhostel courses in English lit & poetry, making countless friends who loved her lively intellect, compassionate heart, & unfailing wit. She continued to provide mentorship for younger Christian feminists, lesbians, & transpeople, as well as for other scholars around the world.

She will be deeply missed by her son Paul; daughter-in-law Barbara; three granddaughters Miranda, Sarina, & Corrine; cousins Jack & Jane Smiley-Canning & Nancy & Paul Bakalar; beloved decades-long friends, Beverly Gibson, Debra Morrison & Gail Ricciuti; & other beloved friends. Virginia was predeceased by her spouse J. Suzannah Tilton, her brother-in-law John Tilton, her brother Robert Ramey, her mother May Lotz Ramey & her father Frank Ramey.

Those wishing to honor Virginia's memory may make donations to the Mollenkott-McNeil Fund at Kirkridge Retreat & Study Center, Bangor, Pa. (; Strengthen Our Sisters (; or Christian Feminism Today ( A celebration of her life will be held in 2021; details to be announced at

Published by The Record/Herald News on Oct. 18, 2020.
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3 Entries
I was 20 and in a very repressed college when my English professor blew my mind with her forward thinking and deep empathy for students who did not “fit in.” She was by far my mentor and favorite prof of all time.
Ellen Harris
December 19, 2020
With Reta, I too kneel at her feet-- aware that we are two of the thousands more whose hearts and minds she touched, graced, and inspired. She was a gift to this world!
Gail A. Ricciuti
October 27, 2020
What a woman! What a list of accomplishments! What influence her life has had on so many of us! I kneel at her feet.
Reta Halteman Finger
October 21, 2020
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