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Bishop Joseph Phillip Ravenell

Senior Pastor, Samaritan Baptist Church 


Bishop Joseph P. Ravenell was born in South Carolina, January 20, 1940. In his pursuit for higher education, he enrolled at the St. Peter’s College September 1968 where he graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science degree in American History. After responding to the call on his life to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, he further prepared himself for ministry by enrolling in the Princeton Theological Seminary in September of that same year; from which upon completing a three-year course study, he received a Master of Divinity Degree in June of 1976.

Upon graduating from seminary Bishop Ravenell began his work in prison ministry serving as the Chaplain Supervisor from 1976 to 1994. As chaplain at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, New Jerey, he saw the need to minister to families of those incarcerated. In response to this great need, Chaplain Ravenell founded and developed the New Jersey Prison Community Network. Through this network many prisoners and their families were helped.

In addition to prison ministry, he also had a fruitful military career. He enlisted and served in the US Army Medical corps for two years. He continued his military career as a chaplain and retired in the year 2000 as Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel.

Joseph P. Ravenell first entered the United States Army on September 23, 1961 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Because of his reigious beliefs he did not participate in any aspect of the military that could result in taking the life of another human being. In respect to his beliefs, the Army assigned him to the U.S. Army Medical Corp. As a medic, his mission was to save lives instead of destroying them.

Assigned to the 24th Infrantry Medical Battalion, he was stationed in Ausburg, Germany for 18 months. Upon his return to the United States, Joseph was released from the Army on September 23, 1963. He remained in the U.S. Army Reserve for several years and received a full honorable discharge in October of 1967.

His compassion for serving his country led him to return to the military in 1978, this time serving as chaplain. He received his training to become a Chaplain at the U.S. Army School in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. In April of 1979 he was assigned to the 50th Armored Division Artillery Headquarters in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. A year later he was proomoted to Captain and in 1985 was promoted to Major. He contnued to serve the Division Artillery Command until 1989.

In September 1993, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He served the 3/112 Field Artillery Battalion until January 1997 where he was reassigned as the 50th Brigade Chaplain in Forth Dix, New Jersey. He retired from the military on January 20,2000, which was also his 60th birthday.

During his years as prison and military chaplain, he also served as the Protestant Chaplain at the College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College) for eight years. He has a heart for education and young people in general. For 30 years, Bishop Ravenell has been a Field Education Supervisor at the Princeton Theological Seminary. He has mentored 180 seminary students who are serving in various parts of the world. 

On September 11, 1965, Bishop Ravenell married the love of his live, the late Elder Mary Jane Ravenell, and together they pastored the Samaritan Baptist Church in Trenton, New Jersey, beginning April 16, 1979. Elder Mary Jane Ravenell was called home to glory in February 2019, after they had been married for 53 years.

As a pastor, Bishop Ravenell is involved in many aspects of community development. He has facilitated a weekly food and clothing program, a weekly program for youth between the ages of three and 18, and a youth summer Christian Bible Camp (known as Vacation Bible School). Bishop Ravenell’s concern for the community is evident by his involvement with the North Ward Coalition and his work with the Board of Education. During Hurricane Katrina, Bishop Ravenell was at the forefront of providing assistance. Bishop Ravenell served as a board member of the North 25 Housing Corporation for over 12 years. He has been actively involved in the Concerned Pastors of Trenton and Vicinity for 30 years, serving in several positions as an officer. Additionally, he served as the president of TEAM (Trenton Area Ecumenical Ministry) for seven years and is the spiritual advisor to Fathers and Men for a Better Trenton.


Bishop Ravenell believes that where there is unity, there is strength.

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