With heavy hearts and profound sadness, we share the news of the passing of our esteemed colleague and beloved professor, Professor Emeritus, The Rev. Dr. Rodney (Rod) Whitacre. On May 22, 2023, Dr. Whitacre peacefully departed this world after a courageous battle with lymphoma, leaving behind a lasting impact on Trinity School for Ministry and the countless lives he touched throughout his career.
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, and raised in Richland, Washington, Dr. Whitacre’s journey in academia and ministry was a testament to his unwavering dedication and passion for the Gospel. After completing his Master of Theological Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1976, he obtained his Ph.D. in New Testament from Cambridge University, England, in 1980.
In 1983, Dr. Whitacre joined the Trinity School for Ministry faculty as a New Testament professor, embarking on a teaching career that would span over three decades. During his tenure, he became a revered figure among our students, serving not only as a teacher but also as a counselor and mentor to hundreds of individuals. Dr. Whitacre’s wisdom, kindness, and deep commitment to his student’s spiritual growth made a lasting impression on their lives.
Dr. Whitacre’s scholarly contributions extended beyond the classroom. His published work includes John: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series Volume 4 (2010), published by InterVarsity Press, which offers insightful commentary on the Gospel of John. His profound understanding of the Greek language is evident in his publication A Grammar of New Testament Greek (2021), released by Eerdmans, which has become an invaluable resource for scholars and students alike. Moreover, Dr. Whitacre’s A Patristic Greek Reader (2007), published by Baker Academic, illuminates the writings of early Christian theologians, enriching our understanding of the patristic era.
The Very Rev. Bryan C. Hollon, Ph.D., our Dean and President, reflects on Dr. Whitacre’s life and impact, stating, “Rod was a beloved member of the Trinity community until the very end, and he will remain one of the giants among our emeritus faculty. He had a lasting influence on several generations of Anglican clergy and was beloved by all. Rod was creative, funny, brilliant, and deeply convicted in his faith. Margaret, Chad, Seth, and the entire family remain part of our extended community and have our ongoing love and support.”
“Rod was a beloved friend, and a saint,” said Dr. William G. Witt, Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics. “Friends of TSM will know Rod most because of the many years he taught Greek and New Testament, but he contributed to the community in many other ways. “He told me that music came from heaven, and for years he led a student group in playing ukelele and singing ‘roots’ music. He was that rare example of a scholar priest who was able to seamlessly join learning and devotion. Above all, Rod was kind, thoughtful, and gracious, showing generosity, perhaps especially on those rare occasions when he found himself in disagreement. He will be sorely missed, but in our conversations even over these last few weeks, I found his confident faith to be contagious.”
As we mourn the loss of this remarkable individual, let us remember Dr. Whitacre’s legacy of academic excellence, compassionate mentorship, and unwavering faith. His dedication to teaching and profound insights into the Scriptures and Greek language has left an indelible mark on Trinity School for Ministry and the broader theological community.
During this time of grief and reflection, we invite the Trinity community to come together in prayer and support for Dr. Whitacre’s family, friends, and those fortunate enough to know him. Let us cherish the memories of this exceptional servant of God and celebrate his transformative influence on generations of students and scholars. For further details about Dr. Whitacre’s obituary, including funeral arrangements, we kindly direct you to https://singinghome.com/archive/rod-whitacre/.
In honoring Dr. Whitacre’s memory, we also want to share that, in lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations be made to Grace Anglican Church in Edgeworth, PA (https://www.edgeworthanglican.com/giving), or Trinity School for Ministry (https://www.tsm.edu/donate/). Your generosity will contribute to organizations dear to Dr. Whitacre’s heart, supporting the church community he served and the institution where he dedicated his teaching career. Every contribution, no matter the size, will help us honor his legacy and continue the vital work he championed.
“Lord Jesus, be mindful of your promise. Think of us, your servants, especially The Rev. Dr. Rodney Whitacre, and when we shall depart, speak to our spirits these loving words: ‘Today you shall be with me in joy.’ O Lord Jesus Christ, remember us, your servants who trust in you, when our tongues cannot speak, when the sight of our eyes fails, and when our ears are stopped. Let our spirits always rejoice in you and be joyful about our salvation, which you, through your death, have purchased for us. Amen.” (110. For Joy at the End of Life, BCP 2019)