Doug Adams, pioneering professor in religion and the arts, dies on July 24
Doug Adams, professor of Christianity and the arts at Pacific School of Religion for 31 years, died at the home of friends in
“With his attention to the environment of worship, Doug Adams almost single-handedly transformed worship on the West Coast,” said William McKinney, president of Pacific School of Religion. “You don’t see unadorned sanctuaries on this coast: They come alive with color and art. Doug attended to the entire sensory experience of worship and had an amazing and wide-ranging influence.”
A gifted teacher who brought great enthusiasm, personal attention, and generosity of spirit—as well as fine wines—to his students, friends, and countless gatherings,
“Most of his students absolutely loved him because of his passion and dedication,” said Hilary Marckx, a pastor at Geyserville Christian Church in
The Sacred Dance Guild held its national festival in
His main contribution in scholarship was in the field of visual art history and religion, with a focus on contemporary visual art. He was national president of the Society for Art, Religion, and Contemporary Culture and head of the section on Art and Religion of the
“Doug supported all the arts—including dance, music, photography, painting, and film,” said Mary Donovan Turner, PSR’s vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “But art to Doug wasn’t just about beauty. It was also about relationship, ambiguity, perspective, voice, and, ultimately, justice.”
Doug Adams was born in
His proudest achievement during his 31 years of teaching at PSR was founding, in 1987, the Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education (CARE), an affiliated center of Graduate Theological Union, which has grown to offer 30 courses on art and religion every year, serving more then 400 GTU students.
On the cover of his book, Congregational Dancing in Christian Worship (1971), is a reproduction of a Peanuts cartoon with a hopping Snoopy saying: “If you can’t dance, you should at least be able to do a happy hop!” “That perfectly expresses a lot about Doug,” said Carla De Sola, whom Adams brought from
“Doug liked to say that Pacific School of Religion produces a certain edginess and a certain quirkiness,” recalled President McKinney. “This seminary does produce such qualities, and both were splendidly embodied in Doug. He could have been the product of no other school.”
Doug Adams is survived by his sister, Sally Urban, and her husband, Kenneth Urban, and three nieces and their husbands. His wife, Margo, died in 2005.
Pacific School of Religion will hold a memorial service on campus this fall, scheduled for Oct. 14, 2:00-5:00 pm (for more information, see psr.edu). Contributions may be sent to the Doug Adams Fund for Arts Ministries, Practicality, and Hospitality at the Center for Arts, Religion, and Education (CARE) at Graduate Theological Union,