James Gilmour Ranck (August 26, 1911-May 17, 1979), married to Edna Ranck with two daughters, was a professor, clinical psychologist, and United Methodist minister with a specialization in the relationship between mental health and religious attitudes and beliefs. As an adjunct professor at Drew University between the years of 1955 and 1979, he taught courses which focused on the relationships and boundaries between modern theology and psychology, including Christian Thought and Dynamic Psychology, Christianity and Depth Psychology, The Healthy and the Pathological in Religion, Personality Development and Pastoral Psychology, Theological and Ethical Foundations of Psychology.
Born in China, Ranck came to live in the United States permanently in 1925. He received his A.B. in 1933 and B.D. in 1935 from Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky and his M.A in 1936 from the University of Kentucky in Lexington. His early ordination as a Methodist minister allowed him to preach at several Ohio churches in the 1930’s and 40’s. After receiving his first Ph.D. from Drew University in 1942, he served as a Chaplain in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. Before returning to the United States, Ranck studied at both Oxford University in England and the University of Zurich in Switzerland in 1946.
Ranck received his second Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1955. While conducting research for his dissertation between 1953 and 1955, Ranck created a survey which analyzed the connection between established psychological traits and religious beliefs among students at theological institutions. Seminaries across the United States took part in this survey, the subject of which became a major theme in his later writings, lectures and studies.
Ranck began his private practice as a clinical psychologist in 1955 with an office in Morristown, New Jersey. At this time he also held the position of pastor of the United Church of Christ Community Congregational Church in East Orange, New Jersey. He opened a second office for his psychology practice in Manhattan in 1967, working as a Clinical Associate in the Department of Clinical Psychology at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. He belonged to a number of organizations including the American Psychological Association, the Academy of Religion and Mental Health, and the American Academy of Psychotherapists. In 1974, Ranck took part in the Fifth International Forum for Psychoanalysis (IFPS) in Zurich, Switzerland, delivering the address "Religious Influences on the Individual, the Family and Society – Between Coercion and Freedom."
Ranck had numerous teaching positions throughout his life: Assistant Professor at Asbury College, 1935-1937; Professor of Religion at Stephens College in Columbia, MO, 1946-1950; Associate Professor of Guidance and Religion at Finch College in New York, 1951-1954; Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Religion at Drew University, 1955-1979; and as Faculty at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, New York, 1963-1979. Ranck was awarded the William S. Pilling Traveling Fellowship in Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion by Drew University and the U.S. Public Health Fellowship in Clinical Psychology by Columbia University.
Ranck’s writings include a chapter in The Minister’s Own Mental Health (1961) and contributions to The Church’s Educational Ministry (1965). He also was the subject of an interview originally published in Newsday republished worldwide, entitled “Eliminate the Negative.” At the time of his death in 1979, Ranck was engaged in preliminary research for a book entitled The Love Makers.
Courtesy of the Drew University Archives