Above: The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, Circa 1910
Copyright by W. Y. Littig & Company
G34958 U.S. Copyright Office
Image Source = Library of Congress
Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-98163
DONALD SMITH ARMENTROUT (APRIL 22, 1939-MARCH 30, 2013)
U.S. Lutheran Minister and Scholar
Seldom do I have the opportunity to add to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days someone I have met. Usually the saints lived some time ago and/or some distance from me. But, over a decade ago, I had the privilege of attending a Lay Ministries Conference in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia with Donald S. Armentrout as the speaker. To this day his influence remains with me. Whenever I say, for example, that I read the rest of the Bible through the Gospel glasses, I channel Armentrout.
Armentrout, born in 1939, had a long academic career. He graduated from Roanoke College in 1961. Then our saint departed for Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he graduated with his Master of Divinity degree in 1964. Three years later he joined the faculty of the University of the South, Sewanee , Tennessee, as an Instructor in ecclesiastical history. Armentrout, minted a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1970 and ordained a minister of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) in 1972, rose through the ranks at the University of the South. From 1974 to 1984 he directed the joint Doctor of Ministry program with Vanderbilt University. Then our saint directed the Advanced Degrees Program at Sewanee. In 1989 Armentrout became the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs. Two years later he became the Charles Quintard Professor of Dogmatic Theology. And twice he served as the Interim Dean of the School of Theology. He retired from the University of the South at the end of 2008.
Armentrout contributed to religious scholarship. A very partial list of publications follows:
- The Quest for the Informed Priest: A History of the School of Theology (1979);
- A DuBose Reader: Selections from the Writings of William Porcher DuBose (1984), with Robert B. Slocum;
- Documents of Witness: A History of the Episcopal Church, 1782-1985 (1994); and
- An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church (1999), with Robert B. Slocum.
In 2008 the Very Reverend William S. Stafford, Dean of the School of Theology, wrote of our saint:
In his scholarly work and teaching, Don Armentrout shined light upon the history of the Episcopal Church, as well as the church catholic. As pastor and preacher, his faith in Jesus Christ crucified has deepened the ministries of many hundreds of graduates of the School of Theology. He has been more than a pillar of the School of Theology. He has been a wall to hold us up, and a window to let light in. No substitute for Don will ever be found, but we are glad that Sewanee gets to keep him and Sue [Ellen Gray Armentrout, his wife] for the coming years in the flexibility and freedom that retirement promises. We thank Don for his services, and we thank God for Don. (http://news.sewanee.edu/people/2008/12/18/don-armentrout-retires-after-42-years-at-school-of-theology)
I have felt Armentrout’s indirect influence via various priests in Georgia. That indirect influence in many dioceses might be our saint’s most enduring legacy.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
AUGUST 30, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF FOND DU LAC
O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.
We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Donald S. Armentrout and all others]
who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.
May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.
In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN