President James S. Lee

2014- Present

      James S. Lee, PhD, is president of International Theological Seminary. He began his term on January 1, 2014. Prior to assuming the presidency, Dr. Lee was resident professor of Old Testament at ITS. He was previously dean of academic affairs at Presbyterian Theological Seminary in America. President Lee’s commitment to global ministry grew early on when he traveled to churches in Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, and Russia as a high school student. His steadfast prayer for a life vocation in global missions is answered in this most unexpected call to lead an institution preparing Christian leaders for a multitude of nations. He considers his role as president, his scholarly inquiry, and teaching ministry as extensions of a deep and abiding desire to be a part of God’s redemptive work in the world.


      President Lee earned his PhD in Old Testament from Union Presbyterian Seminary, where his research focused on the exilic identity and theological formation of hope for restoration in the Book of Daniel. He received his MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary and a BA in Philosophy from University of Texas at Austin. He spent two years as a graduate student of theology at University of Münster in Germany. He was a North American Doctoral Fellow.

      Ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), President Lee served congregations in New Jersey, Richmond, and Dallas. Currently, he is a regular preacher at Community Presbyterian Church of El Monte. He enjoys teaching the Bible in cross-cultural contexts, most recently having taught in India, Rwanda, Indonesia and Nigeria.

      Dr. Lee is married to Dr. Charlene Jin Lee. They have two college-aged daughters, Katherine and Frances, and a young son, Harold.


      International Theological Seminary is a truly unique place in many ways. Located in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California, the Seminary is a portal to diverse cultures and peoples. When you step into our building, you will see many different faces and races who have come together with one common goal: serving God, serving local communities, and serving the global church.

      We are here to serve the Church of Christ that spans every continent in the world. Since its inception 40 years ago, International Theological Seminary has focused on training pastors and leaders for the Majority World. With over 1,000 graduates, the influence of International Theological Seminary can be felt in countries like Tanzania, Nigeria, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, China, and the United States. A seminary does not need to be big in order to impact the world for the Kingdom of God. The global church needs trained and committed disciples of Christ who are anchored in their spiritual and cultural roots and who adapt to the changing global context with intercultural sensitivities and communication skills. International Theological Seminary is the right training ground for those who seek this type of discipleship.


      We also place an emphasis on serving local communities. The global mission is possible only when we bring about transformation in communities where we belong, live, and minister. The need for this transformation is especially great in countries from which our students come from, as many of their communities suffer from poverty, corruption, and environmental damage. Our graduates are naturally inclined to take the Gospel and live it out in their communities holistically. However, the community focus of the Seminary’s mission extends beyond the Majority World–to our own backyard, North America. The greater Los Angeles area is where God has placed International Theological Seminary to be. We, the faculty, staff, students, and board members would like to minister to diverse ethnic communities in the Los Angeles area and other cities. Thus, we extend our invitation to all of you who have a heart for ministry in the Majority World or in communities in the US and Canada.

      I hope to see you on campus sometime in the near future, whether it be for a simple visit, to audit a class, or to pursue a degree. Being part of this diverse community even for a short period of time will surely reward you with amazement for God’s rich gift for His creation, a deep appreciation of Christ’s love for all humanity, and witness of the Spirit’s moving and working in every culture and people.

      I invite you to this exciting adventure.

Sincerely in Christ,