In memoriam: Stephen C. Mott

The Reverend Dr. Stephen Charles Mott (1940-20224)

We are deeply sorry to report the passing of the Rev. Dr. Stephen Charles Mott, a former President of the JLA Foundation. He was born on April 9, 1940 in Lakewood, Ohio. He was the son of the late Royden and Katherine (Hyde) Mott. He called Sandra, his beloved wife who predeceased him, “Sandy.” Stephen died on February 5, 2024; a memorial service was held at Memorial United Methodist Church, in Beverly, Mass. on March 9.  The family encourages trees to be planted in his memory; for information, visit the Sympathy Store.

Stephen served as President of the James Luther Adams Foundation for some twenty-five years; in 2018 he stepped down from the presidency for reasons of reasons health, while continuing as a member of the Board. Stephen led the Foundation in the development of the annual James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society, carrying forward the legacy of Dr. Adams after Adams’s passing. Presenters and texts of the JLA Forum lectures, held in academic and church settings, can be found on the Foundation website, www.jameslutheradams.org,

Stephen served as professor of Christian Social Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he taught for 25 years.  He authored two major works, Biblical Ethics and Social Change, and A Christian Perspective on Political Thought.  He earned his Ph.D degree at Harvard Divinity School, where he came to know Jim Adams as a scholar and a personal friend.  Adams especially admired the way Stephen had initiated the field of social ethics in Evangelical theological education.  In recent years Stephen served as a United Methodist pastor.

–George Kimmich Beach, President, JLA Foundation

I was saddened but not surprised to hear of the death of Stephen Mott. The last time we spoke last Fall he mentioned his decline. He also noted our friendship and how our paths have crossed over the past 35 years, not only at the JLA Foundation but also elsewhere. I was a frequent visiting lecturer in his Social Justice class at Gordon-Conwell.  We were both active in the Society for Christian Ethics and particularly with the Ethics Group of the Boston Theological Institute. JLA  correctly noted that Stephen made outstanding contributions in getting Evangelicals into the Social Justice arena.  I  vividly recall a special tribute paid to Stephen at the Society for Christian Ethics. His former students, most of whom were teaching in Evangelical schools or pastors in Evangelical congregations, organized the event. I was sitting next to Max Stackhouse (former JLAF board member) who remarked: “Isn’t it wonderful to see so many tributes from so many students.” Stephen was a kind, caring person who had self-effacing qualities and seldom touted his accomplishments, which were many.

I was in contact with Stephen after resigned from the JLAF board. He spoke of his decline. When he stopped answering the phone, I knew his decline had advanced.  I will miss him as a friend and colleague, but I will always be grateful for his friendship and collegiality. Rest in Peace, my friend.

–Norman Faramelli

Steve Mott was my classmate at Harvard, sharing in the long conversation we had with our teacher, mentor, and friend, Jim Adams. With his patience, humor, kindness, and humble reading of texts and people, Steve became a life-long friend, and we stayed in touch over the years, especially through the Society of Christian Ethics. His book on Biblical ethics remains a “go-to” text for all of us who want to take careful account of biblical perspectives in our work. And his scope of interests went beyond the normal parameters of our field. For instance, in 2009 he took the time to carefully read, digest, and critically analyze my lengthy eco-historical novel, Red Clay, Blood River, at the annual meeting of the SCE. This kind of collegial friendship and careful reflection made him a valuable friend for a wide circle who now mourn his departure from our midst. We all give thanks for such a light that was among us.

—William Johnson Everett

It was James Luther Adams who brought Stephen and I together for a friendship that lasted many years.  Stephen was very active in the first efforts to form the now James Luther Adams Foundation.  I first met him at Andover Newton Seminary and at those early meetings I was very impressed with his appreciation of Jim’s thought and commitment to social justice.  Certainly Stephen’s own commitment to social justice and religious thought was reflected in his own academic work and life. I know they were an inspiration to each other as it was to the members of the early board and now Foundation.  I can’t begin to count the many JLA board meetings we had under the leadership of Stephen.  During these years with the beginning of the annual JLA lecture, Stephen was a guiding force for celebrating the life and work of Jim Adams.  It was evident that Stephen had a deep appreciation and genuine love for Jim Adams.  There was also this sense of genuine love that guided us through those early years and certainly began to be reflected in the themes and presentations of the JLA  annual lectures.  Stephen was so proud to honor Jim with these events and I could see how happy he was to be part of a board and now Foundation that carried on that amazing spirit of Jim Adams.  I will always honor Stephen, in turn, for his leadership and for our friendship made possible by our mutual respect and love for James Luther Adams.

–Doris Hunter

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