North Park Remembers Former Seminary Professor and Dean Donald C. Frisk

North Park Remembers Former Seminary Professor and Dean Donald C. Frisk

CHICAGO, IL (August 2, 2010 ) – Former North Park Theological Seminary Professor and Dean Donald C. Frisk is being remembered for his insightful scholarship that has been foundational in The Evangelical Covenant Church, care for his students, and guiding the school through difficult years. Frisk, 99, died on July 20.

Phil Anderson, Seminary professor of church history, referred to Frisk as “the theologian of the Covenant church.” His book Covenant Affirmations, This We Believe has been a standard text at the Seminary and foundational for considering the implications of theology in every aspect of the Covenanters’ lives since it was published in 1981.

“So much of what we are today comes out of the mind, disciplined work, and faithful heart of Don Frisk,” said Covenant Vice-President Donn Engebretson.

His teaching left a “major legacy,” Anderson added. “Nearly every pastor in the denomination between 1945 and the 1970s learned their Covenant theology from Don.”

One of those students was John Weborg, professor emeritus of theology, who served at the same church in Princeton before following Frisk as a professor at the school.

The educator was a lifelong model for the pupil. “Mr. Frisk was a theologian of the church,” Weborg said. “While I followed him in the chair of theology, I am uncomfortable with the word ‘successor.’ I have tried to exercise the office of teacher in the church with the same sense of stewardship that professor Frisk had with the material as well as with his students.”

“No one, in my experience, was a better teacher, more devoted both to Christ and to the Covenant,” said Jim Hawkinson, former executive secretary of Covenant Publications.

In addition to his scholarship, Frisk’s personal attention to his students has continued to impact the entire denomination. “I am sure that I speak for generations of Covenant pastors when I say that Don had a profound influence on my life,” said Engebretson. “He was a marvelous teacher who encouraged creative but disciplined thought. He was deeply loving and affirming. My sense of his care for me as a student was deeply important to my sense of belonging in this community called the Covenant.”

Frisk’s leadership was key to helping guide and shape the school during the 1950s and ’60s, which were turbulent years, not only in the church, but in all of society, Anderson said. The school also achieved full accreditation during his tenure.

Frisk was born April 14, 1911, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he grew up attending Salem Covenant Church. He married Evelyn Swanson on October 14, 1939. She died in 1987.

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from the University of Minnesota and a master of divinity degree from North Park Theological Seminary. He also studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, New York; Missionskola in Lidingö, Sweden; and University of Chicago Divinity School.

Prior to teaching at the Seminary, Frisk served Swedish Covenant Church in New Rochelle, New York, and Mission Covenant Church in Princeton, Illinois. He began teaching at the Seminary in 1945 and became dean in 1961. He returned to teaching theology in 1967 and continued until retiring in 1978. His son, Peter, said teaching was Frisk’s “first love.”

Frisk, who had been in poor health, recently told his son, Peter, in preparing work on his memorial service, “I don’t want much said about Don Frisk, but a lot said about Don Frisk’s Savior.”

Frisk is survived by his son, three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be conducted at North Park Church in early September.