Remembering Quentin Hand

Former Candler faculty member Quentin L. Hand, Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Pastoral Counseling, died on February 16. Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology Rodney L. Hunter offers this remembrance.


Rodney L. Hunter
March 9, 2021

Quentin HandQuentin L. Hand, who taught psychology and pastoral counseling at Candler from his appointment by Dean Cannon in 1961 until his retirement in 1988, died in February 2021 at the age of 96. Raised in a small town in northern Indiana, Quentin was a graduate of Indiana University (1945) where he majored in philosophy, the Garrett Biblical Institute in Evanston, Illinois, (1948) and the Boston University School of Theology where he earned his PhD in pastoral care and counseling in 1960 while also serving a number of small Methodist congregations. Quentin was deeply devoted to The United Methodist Church and its ministry, with a lifelong zeal for parish ministry and the ministry of care and counseling. And he was also strongly devoted to the practical and pastoral education of ministers and dedicated the greater part of his career in ministry to teaching at Candler.

Commitment to parish ministry, and to care and counseling in particular, was clearly the core of Quentin’s passion at Candler where his courses always had a strong practical orientation that drew heavily on his expertise in counseling and the psychology of religion. Quentin had serious academic expectations of his students and prided himself on maintaining high standards, but he was even more devoted to their psychological and spiritual development. He viewed the work of theological education as much a matter of character and professional formation as academic and intellectual learning, as not a few students learned when they ran into Quentin’s determination to get them to “confront their issues” more than, in many cases, they were inclined to do! Nor was Quentin shy about making his principles and values clear to his fellow faculty members and administrators with whom he often disagreed over matters of pedagogy, curriculum, student issues, or understandings of the church and its ministry, usually because he felt (rightly or wrongly) that the faculty was either failing to apply its rules and regulations firmly enough, or not taking student developmental issues seriously, or because he felt the faculty was not being sufficiently attentive to the practical dimensions of theological education and its need to prepare students for practical ministry. Quentin was also a strong, principled liberal and a vigorous advocate for LGBTQ students long before this issue was generally accepted in church and theological education circles.

Lying behind Quentin’s strong educational and ecclesiastical commitments was a particular commitment to the importance of therapeutic psychology and the psychology of religion in ministry and theological education. Quentin was clearly more the psychologist of religion than the theologian, though he would probably dispute such a characterization. He was in any case vigorously supportive of Candler’s Supervised Ministry program, the DMin program, and the doctoral program in pastoral counseling (the STD degree program, later renamed ThD). He was a charter member of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AACP), an organization to which he gave considerable time and energy over many years, devoting his energies to developing high professional and clinical standards for that field which at the time was rapidly growing and becoming established as a major mental health profession.  Quentin was Secretary of AAPC (1969-1973), Chair of the Constitution and Bylaws Revision Committee (1975-1978), and Secretary-Treasurer of the organization (1987-1991). Following his retirement from Candler in 1988 he moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where he continued his counseling ministry at the Key Pastoral Counseling Center, and in the 1999-2000 academic year he taught pastoral care at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. In his final years he moved back to the Atlanta area where he continued active service in the life of his local church in a variety of capacities including heading up a Stephen Ministry, and enjoyed his large family and marriage of seventy-three years to his college sweetheart, Jane.

For all his rigorous advocacy for standards and principles, Quentin was also a warm, loyal, and caring colleague and a loving family man with a generous and loyal heart. He was profoundly concerned about the needs of his students and colleagues as well the institutional needs of the school, the church, and the ministry. Theological education for Quentin was a means to the enhancement of the church and its ministry, and not an end in itself, or an academic game, or simply a career path.  A true servant of the church, Quentin was a faithful and caring pastor, a committed theological educator, and a devoted representative of the pastoral care and counseling movement of the 20th century who left his pastoral mark on a generation of Candler students and faculty and countless counselees and grateful parishioners whose lives he touched and enriched with his distinctive psychological insight, pastoral wisdom, and personal care.

Read Quentin Hand’s obituary in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.