Dr. Ralph K. Bates

August 15, 1930April 27, 2021

Dr. Ralph Kenneth Bates was born in Bessemer, Alabama, August 15, 1930 where he received his elementary and high school education. He entered Birmingham Southern College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1954. After college, he entered Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree in June, 1956. In 1981 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Birmingham Southern College. In 1988 he received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Emory University. He spent four summers at the Chandler Medical School in Lexington, Kentucky studying Rational Emotive Therapy. In 1982 he became a licensed professional counselor in the State of Alabama.

On August 15, 1952, he married Mary Ann Nabers of Red Bay, Alabama.

Ralph received his local preacher’s license to preach in the Methodist Church on October 11, 1947. He was ordained a Deacon, October 18, 1955 and an Elder, September 13, 1956. He was appointed to nine Methodist Churches in The North Alabama Conference: Edgewater, Minor Heights, Huguley-Harrinton Heights, Comer Memorial, Centre First, Hartselle First, Trinity Tuscaloosa, Central Decatur, Birmingham First and was Director of the Board of Superanuate Homes and Ministry Affairs. He served on the National Board of Church and Society for 8 years.

During his 56 years of active ministry he served as a trustee of Camp Sumatanga, Huntington College, and Lake Junaluska. He chaired three boards, The Board of Evangelism, The Pastoral Advisors Board at Birmingham Southern, and the Board of Pastoral Care and Counseling. He was elected to four jurisdictional Conferences: 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992. He was elected to two General Conferences: 1988 and 1992. He was nominated for Bishop in 1988. He led the clergy delegation in 1992. Ralph and Mary Ann retired at the June 1995 Conference.

Dr. Bates is survived by his wife of 69 years, Mary Ann Bates; three daughters, Pamela Bates Smith (David) of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Janet Bates Skinner of Fairhope, Alabama, and Connie Bates Tomlinson (Jack) of Birmingham, Alabama; six grandchildren, Gracen Smith, Hampton Smith, Bates Skinner, Graham Skinner, Sarah Jolly, and Stewart Jolly (AbbeyHill).

Funeral services for Dr. Bates will commence at eleven o'clock in the morning on Friday, the 30th of April at First United Methodist Church of Birmingham with burial to immediately follow, via escorted cortege, in Birmingham's Historic Elmwood Cemetery. In lieu of usual remembrances, memorials honoring the life of Dr. Ralph Bates may be directed to First United Methodist Church located at 518 19th Street North, Birmingham, Alabama 35203. Services are under the direction of Ridout's Valley Chapel (201-879-3401) in Homewood.


  • Funeral Service

    Friday, April 30, 2021


Dr. Ralph K. Bates

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