The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes ’91

Associate Dean of Chapel

The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes, ’91, is Associate Dean of Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary. His focus is Practical Theology, preparing students to become Christian leaders who bring their Bibles and theology to the daily practice of ministry. 

Bishop Mathes’ focus is Practical Theology, preparing students to become Christian leaders who bring their Bibles and theology to the daily practice of ministry. His areas of expertise are congregational development and clergy mentoring. He teaches courses on the theory and practice of ministry. He joined the faculty of VTS in 2017. 

Mathes was elected to serve as the fourth bishop of San Diego in 2004 and was consecrated in March 2005. As bishop, he was responsible for raising up future leaders of the church, walking with them through their discernment process and seminary experience. Under his leadership, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego completed a successful capital campaign that established a diocesan school for ministry, created an outreach center serving San Diego’s homeless and working poor, and seeded a clergy mentorship fund. In 2007, he received an honorary doctorate from VTS. In 2014 he received the Mayor George Moscone Humanitarian Award for his support of the LGBTQ community. 

In 2001, Mathes was named canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, where he directed the department of Deployment and Congregational Development. He secured a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to establish a clergy mentoring program. He also helped guide 130 congregations through a strategic planning process. 

In 1992, he was ordained as a priest at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Belmont, MA. His passion for education and personal growth transferred to a passion for parish life when he became rector of the Episcopal Church of St. James the Less in Northfield, IL. During his seven years there, church attendance doubled, school participation tripled, and the congregation founded a community outreach program for the elderly and disabled. 

Before coming to the Seminary as a student himselfMathes worked in educational development, where he helped raise money for his high school alma mater, The Webb School, and directed a successful campaign for St. Andrew’s-Sewanee, an Episcopal school in Sewanee, Tennessee. 

He is currently working on two book projects, one on clergy wellness and another on confirmation. He frequently gives lectures and seminars on topics such as: 

  • Stewardship
  • Living a Whole, Healthy, and Holy Life
  • Spiritual Practices
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Living Through Change (Change Management)

Bishop Mathes and his wife, Terri, have two adult children. 

M.Div., Virginia Theological Seminary
B.A. Mathematics, magna cum laude, Sewanee: The University of the South

“The Rev. Ed Kryder, who taught as an adjunct professor when I was a student at VTS, asserted that we are all practicing theologians, bringing our theological reflections to our pastoral role.
For me, that is what Practical Theology is about. We strive to form Christian leaders to bring their Bibles and theology to the daily practice of ministry.”
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes ’91