FORMER LTS PRESIDENT AND DEAN WILLIAM O. PAULSELL PASSES AWAY

William O. Paulsell, former Dean and President of Lexington Theological Seminary, died April 14, 2024 at the age of 88 years. He was an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the author of eight books, including Taste and See: A Personal Guide to the Spiritual Life (Upper Room, 1976); Tough Minds, Tender Hearts: Six Prophets of Social Justice (Paulist, 1990); and, most recently, Longing for God: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism (Paulist, 2021).

Born in Miami, FL, in 1935, Paulsell grew up in Dallas, TX, and was a leader in the Disciples youth movement. As a student at Texas Christian University, he fell in love with Sally Atkins, a fellow Religion major. They married in 1957 and moved to Nashville, TN, where Paulsell completed his bachelor of divinity and his PhD in Church History at Vanderbilt University. He was part of a group of Vanderbilt students who visited the Trappist monk Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky for conversations about the human longing for God. Those conversations significantly shaped Paulsell’s future life and research, and he maintained a relationship with the Abbey of Gethsemani throughout his life.

From 1962 to 1981, Paulsell served on the faculty of what was then called Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, NC, in the department of Religion and Philosophy. He and his wife, Dr. Sally Paulsell, had two daughters, Stephanie and Diane. In 1981, the family moved to Lexington when Paulsell was called to serve as Dean of Lexington Theological Seminary. In 1987, he was appointed President of the seminary and served until 1992. After retiring from LTS, he served as Senior Minister of North Christian Church in Columbus, IN, for five years, after which he and Sally returned to Lexington. He continued to teach courses periodically at the Seminary.

Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was an important community in his life. He loved the people, the worship, and the music. He taught a course on Thomas Merton and other significant spiritual writers for over a decade at Central. He also served as minister of Twin Pines Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Lexington while the senior minister was on sabbatical.

“Bill was a titan … his influence and shaping hands on the church and her ministers is simply off the charts,” said Rev. Cyd Cowgill, a Disciples minister who lives in Lexington.

Dr. Paulsell is survived by his wife; his daughters; his son-in-law, Kevin Madigan; and two grandchildren, Theo Block and Amanda Madigan. His funeral will be held at Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Lexington, KY, on Sunday, April 21, 2024 at 4 p.m.