CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dr. S. Donald “Don” Fortson has announced his retirement from Reformed Theological Seminary after over 25 years of exemplary service. Dr. Fortson’s last day at the seminary will be July 31, 2023.
Dr. Fortson joined the faculty of RTS Charlotte in 1997 and now serves as Professor of Church History and Pastoral Theology and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program. Prior to RTS, he served as Assistant Professor of Ministry and the Director of the DMin Program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
He earned his B.A. from Covenant College before attending Columbia Theological Seminary for MDiv and DMin degrees. He also holds a Ph.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary. Dr. Fortson’s research and writing has largely focused on the history of Presbyterianism in the United States. Most recently, he co-authored and co-edited the award-winning volume Reformed and Evangelical Across Four Centuries: The Presbyterian Story in America (Eerdmans, 2022).
“Dr. Don Fortson has made an indelible impact on Reformed Theological Seminary,” said Chancellor Ligon Duncan. “That impact is felt not only in his research, writing, and teaching, but in his leadership of the Doctor of Ministry program and the shaping of its curriculum over the years. RTS, the Charlotte campus, and the DMin program would not be what they are today without him. The RTS family is grateful for Dr. Fortson and wishes him the best in his retirement.”
Dr. Fortson’s Colleagues
Dr. Michael Kruger, President of RTS Charlotte, said, “For the last 25 years, Don Fortson has been a tremendous blessing to the Charlotte campus. In addition to his excellent scholarship on Presbyterian church history, Don’s warm and winsome spirit has been a great example to our students of what a godly professor looks like. We congratulate him on his retirement and will miss him dearly in the years ahead.”
Dr. Rod Culbertson, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Dean of Student Development, remembers his long-standing friendship with Dr. Fortson: “I consider Dr. Fortson to be more than a colleague. He is a close friend. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him in the areas of both student life and the Doctor of Ministry degree program at RTS. My wife, Cathy, and I love his wife Nancy as well and they will be missed.
“Dr. Fortson knows his church history, has a strong appreciation for the many evangelical traditions found in that history, and students have often commented about how his courses make history ‘come alive.’ No greater compliment could be given to a church history professor. He has served Christ well in his long career of ministry and seminary training.”
Dr. Fortson’s Students
The Rev. Gil Martin, pastor of Sharon Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Sharon, S.C., will graduate from RTS Charlotte with a DMin this year. He recalls Dr. Fortson’s faithful guidance throughout the program.
“I have known Dr. Fortson since my days in the MDiv program, but it was in the DMin program that I really got to know him,” Martin said. “I remember his seemingly endless patience as I barraged him with questions about the doctoral project. Perhaps the counsel I remember best was his constant reminder that you can become your biggest adversary in completing the project. Do not allow the enormity of the task to overwhelm. I repeated those words to myself numerous times over the course of the writing process. I cannot express my gratitude enough for Dr. Fortson’s faithful service to RTS!”
The Rev. Robert Knuth (MDiv ’19), RUF Campus Minister at the University of Michigan, served as a teaching assistant for Dr. Fortson.
“There are few men who embody RTS’ commitment to the pastor-theologian more than Dr. Fortson,” said Knuth. “He has the ability to teach church history in a way that is vibrant, relatable, and immensely pastoral and practical for life in the pew today. Even in my own ministry with college students, few classes come to mind more than my time with Dr. Fortson. His presence in the hallways of RTS will be very much missed, as his gentle demeanor always demonstrated the type of man any student of the Word must become: zealous for truth and gracious with people.”
Dr. Fortson plans to continue researching and writing on American Presbyterianism and will continue to serve as the professor of record for RTS Global’s American Presbyterianism course.