Home > Public Events & Education > News > News Fall 2015 > Seminary Remembers Dr. Donald Capps
Aug  2015 29
Former Faculty Member Dr. Donald Capps Dies at the Age of 76

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Dr. Donald Capps. Capps was a faculty member at the Graduate Seminary of Phillips University from 1976-1982, before moving on and finishing a noteworthy career at Princeton. He died on August 26, 2015, from injuries incurred in an automobile accident. Capps was 76 years old.

Phillips Seminary faculty member Mindy McGarrah Sharp knew of the scholarship of Capps for many years, but her first opportunity to get to know him in person was at the May 2015 New Directions in Pastoral Theology Conference at Princeton, organized by Capps with Dr. Bob Dykstra.

The long running conference aims to pair scholars to present works in progress that advance the scholarship in the field of pastoral theology.

Mindy McGarrah Sharp with Donald Capps in May of 2015.“I was thrilled to learn that Dr. Capps would be the partner for the paper I gave,” McGarrah Sharp said.  “In the formal part of the conference, his response to my paper was encouraging, critically engaged, and helpful.”

In the informal times of the conference, McGarrah Sharp, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Ethics at Phillips Seminary, enjoyed talking with Capps about his early career at Phillips in the position she currently holds.

“His warm and joyful, even a bit mischievous, spirit has encouraged so many in and beyond the field of pastoral theology,” she said. “A prolific scholar, he wrote most often on hope.  I share with so many hope for his family and friends now in their sudden time of grief.”

Among Capps’ works as a pastoral theologian was Agents of Hope (Fortress, 1995). In the opening pages, he reminds the reader that Christian’s companion in John Bunyan’s classic work, Pilgrim’s Progress, was Hopeful.

Comparing Hopeful’s actions to the pastor’s role, Capps wrote:

Hopeful is not the one who makes Christian whole—only Christ is able to do this—but is the one who holds his friend’s head above water so that he can see his Christ and hear his promises. To be the agent of hope is what ministry is inherently and ultimately about. It is what makes the pastor unique among helping professionals. To put it quite bluntly, hope is the pastor’s stock in trade. (p. 4)

Capps is survived by his wife, Karen, and a son, John Michael Capps. No information on services was available at the time of this publication.

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