Reverend Dr. Joe Samuel Ratliff is a native of Lumberton, North Carolina; where in 1962, he began his Christian journey with Mt. Sinai United Holy Church of Lumberton. Seven years later, he answered his call to ministry while attending Morehouse College. He served as pastor of the Cobb Memorial United Holy Church in Atlanta, Georgia for eight years.
Dr. Ratliff was elected as pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church of Houston, Texas, in February 1980, and by the year 2000, it had grown from a 500-member congregation to a mega-church of 12,000. The congregation has reached a plateau of more than 7,000 members with over 5,000 worshipers attending its two Sunday morning worship services.
Dr. Ratliff has distinguished himself as a scholar-pastor in the African-American tradition of preaching and has sought excellence in numerous endeavors. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, a Master of Divinity degree earned in 1975 and Doctor of Ministry degree earned in 1976 from the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), Atlanta, Georgia. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, also awarded by ITC. He has done Post-Doctoral work at Harvard Divinity School as a Charles Merrill Fellow.
Dr. Ratliff is the first African American pastor to lead the Union Baptist Association, the largest urban Southern Baptist organization in the United States representing more than 500 churches and missions. He has been named “Minister of the Year” by the National Conference of Christians and Jews and is founding president of the National African-American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Dr. Ratliff was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia. He was the keynote speaker for the 2002 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., and is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
In addition to trustee on the Executive Board for the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc., Dr. Ratliff has been chairman of the Board of Trustees of Morehouse School of Religion in Atlanta, Georgia since 1996 and former chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia. He is member of the Board of Directors for Houston Graduate School of Theology, Houston, Texas, and the Board of Directors for the Washington D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Project Foundation, Inc., and founding board member of Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Dr. Ratliff co-authored of Church Planting in the African-American Community.
Dr. Ratliff has been married to the former Doris Ernestine Gardner since 1980.