Thomas A. Summers Papers, 1920-2019

Emory University

Pitts Theology Library

1531 Dickey Drive, Suite 560

Atlanta, GA 30322


Permanent link:

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Summers, Thomas A., 1934-
Title: Thomas A. Summers Papers, 1920-2019
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 454
Extent: 6.3 cubic ft. (18 boxes)
Abstract:This collection contains both personal and professional materials of Reverend Thomas A. Summers.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Collection given by Thomas A. Summers, 2019.


[after identification of item(s)], Thomas A. Summers Papers, MSS 454, Archives and Manuscript Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.


Processed by Emily Corbin, 2019.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Thomas Abram Summers was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1934. He received degrees from Wofford College (1956), Candler School of Theology at Emory University (1959), and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (1978). Upon seminary graduation, he entered into six months of deferred active duty as a ROTC-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. In 1961 he enrolled in the Clinical Pastoral Training Program at the South Carolina State Hosptial. From 1962-1965 Summers was a Senior Clinical Chaplain at Milledgeville State Hospital. He then came back to Columbia, South Carolina and joined the state's Department of Mental Health. He spent one year directing the Clinical Pastoral Education Program of the South Carolina State Hospital, seventeen years as the Chief Chaplain of the William S. Hall Psychiatric Institue, and sixteen years as the Director of the agency's Academy for Pastoral Education. He retired in 1999.

Summers served as president of the Association of Mental Health Clergy from 1984-1986. He served on committees or held offices in the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, American Association of Pastoral Counselors, some state agencies of South Carolina, South Carolina United Methodist Annual Conference, and Pastoral Care Network for Social Responsibility. He held adjunct or assistant professor faculty positions with the Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science Department of the School of Medicine at the University of South Carolina, and the Doctor of Ministry programs of Drew University, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and the Southern Baptist Seminary. He served on the Merger Task Force that formed the Association of Mental Health Clergy and the College of Chaplains into the Association of Professional Chaplains in the mid-1990s.

Following his retirement, he continued his pastoral efforts in various contexts of social care and justice, such as legislation and public policy, the severely mentally ill, the LGBTQ community, Medicaid expansion, antiwar protest and civil disobedience, gun violence, racial healing, and environmental justice. In 2012 the Candler School of Theology presented him with the Distinguished Alumni Award for Community Service. He also received the Distinguished Service Award (South Carolina Mental Health Association), Anton T. Boisen Award (Association of Mental Health Clergy), and Pioneer Award (Association for Clinical Pastoral Education).

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents Rev. Thomas Abram Summers's evolving and passionate interest in the integration of social justice with pastoral care. The collection contains materials from Summers's professional life, such as papers from his time at South Carolina State Hospital, Milledgeville State Hospital, William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute, the Academy for Pastoral Education, and other career activities (1940-2019). This collection also contains materials from Rev. Summers's work in social justice ministry (1984-2018), papers and presentations from conferences and workshops that Summers conducted and attended (1967-2017), Summers's publications (1951-2018), personal materials such as family history and college and military records (1920-2018), photographs (1936-2018), and audiovisual materials (1958-2004).

Arrangement Note

Organized into 7 series: (1) Professional materials, (2) Social justice ministry, (3) Conferences and workshops, (4) Publications, (5) Personal materials, (6) Photographs, (7) Audiovisual materials.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Geographic Names

Form/Genre Terms


Description of Series