Steve Delamarter Retires after 26 years of service

Professor of Old Testament



After 26 years, professor Dr. Steve Delamarter is retiring from Portland Seminary. He is memorable not only for his position at the seminary, but also in the relationships he has with his students, his pastoral skill introducing the Old Testament, and his passion for academic research around the textual history of the Ethiopic Old Testament.

Though his undergraduate degree was in music education and music theory and literature, Steve wanted to study religion. After two masters degrees at the seminary (MAR and MDiv, 1976-79), when it was called Western Evangelical Seminary, he completed another masters and then a PhD in 1990 at Claremont Graduate School, focusing on the Old Testament and early Judaism. He then went on to pastor Everett Free Methodist Church for the next seven years.

Steve came to the seminary in 1993. At his first meeting, the dean of the school resigned. The school was facing significant financial challenges at the time and it was taking its toll. Three years later, the school decided to merge with George Fox University and became George Fox Evangelical Seminary (until 2016).

During his first four years working at the school, Steve commuted from Lake Stevens in Washington, 228 miles away. He would drive over three hours every week on Sunday nights to teach his Monday classes, leaving on Wednesday to attend his Wednesday evening church service. Taking advantage of audio books, he did more reading at that time than any other point in his life. His is thankful for his colleagues Rand and Phyllis Michael’s generosity in hosting him at their home during that time.

One of Steve’s greatest joys at the seminary was “the classroom environment...the fundamental experience with students’ learning. It feels important when you helped a person get their mind around something that matters to them….everyone wanted to love the Old Testament, but they didn’t have high expectations. It was easy to cash in on that!” He specialized in the Old Testament, and savored the experience of showing students how they, too, could fall in love with the Old Testament.

He highlighted several other moments of pride during his tenure. He was so impressed with the grit of the faculty. As a team, they moved the seminary from challenging circumstances, through a merger, on to stability, to becoming a place of respect. “We worked darned hard!” As a strategic part of that process, the faculty focused on harnessing technology for theological education. They received a grant to resource the process and conducted bootcamps to prepare for their first hybrid Masters program, which launched in 2006.

Before the merger, the faculty did not publish. At their own initiative, they organized a series of writing workshops over several years to begin publishing peer-reviewed articles. "They got their scholarly legs under them," Steve noted.

Colleagues MaryKate Morse, Dan Brunner, and Bob McIntyre planted a church. Steve helped with the music. Though it was ancillary to the life of the seminary, for Steve it was the way to reconnect his academic pursuits and local church ministry.

Over his time at the Seminary, Steve had three sabbaticals, which he used to travel Israel and Ethiopia, teach the Old Testament at Hope Africa University, and kickstart his academic research in Ethiopic Christianity. He also spent quality time with his wife and collaborated with many students in his research.

Now that he is retiring, Steve is looking forward to devoting himself to his two major research projects: Ethiopic Manuscript Imaging Project and the Textual History of the Ethiopic Old Testament Project. He will also play bass in a rock and roll band called The 66th Ave. Rock and Roll Band. Needless to say, Steve will be keeping busy.

As he leaves the school, Steve hopes his students will continuing pursuing their “love of scripture and a growing conviction of its substance and value for the church and the world today.” Steve’s leaves these parting words of encouragement to his students: “I have taught that Scripture has to be worked for, but it repays every ounce of energy that we are willing to give to the process....[If we] humble ourselves to come under it, to sit at its feet, to feel it...it will repay the effort.”

Steve’s legacy will not be forgotten.