VTS Celebrates Commencement
Virginia Theological Seminary celebrated its 189th Commencement today, awarding 53 students, representing more than 24 dioceses and five countries, with degrees of Master in Divinity, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Christian Education, Doctor of Ministry, Post-Graduate Diplomas in Anglican Studies and the Licentiate in Theology. The commencement address, given by the Rev. Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, was streamed live to over five countries including Cambodia, Jamaica and Greece.
The recipients of the Harris Award, given each year to candidates for Holy Orders who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership ability, were Elizabeth A. Locher (Diocese of Virginia) and Kyle M. Oliver (Diocese of Milwaukee). The Harris Award is named for the Very Rev. Charles Upchurch Harris (VTS ’38) and his wife, Janet Carlile Harris.
Honorary degrees are awarded every year by Virginia Theological Seminary in recognition of faithful and notable service and also creative and innovative leadership in parish ministry, in overseas missions, academia, and in ecumenical, social, diocesan and national church ministries.
This year, the Seminary conferred Doctors in Divinity, honoris causa, upon the Rev. P. Roger Bowen, Episcopal school leader and former headmaster of St. Stephen and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia; the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, retired suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; Fr. Michael Lapsley SSM, South African Anglican priest and social justice activist; the Rev. Canon Louis C. Schueddig, president of the Alliance for Christian Media and "Day 1" in Atlanta, Georgia; and the Rt. Rev. Michael Louis Vono, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.
For their class gift to the Seminary, the seniors raised over $7,000 to support the acquisition of an altar that will grace the new prayer garden in the restored ruins of the old chapel.
“This is such a fitting gift from our class,” said Stephen McGehee, who spear-headed the initiative, “We started our seminary life in the old chapel, but with the fire, we learned to adapt to new worship settings, reminding us that the power of worship is as much about community as it is about place... the new altar, in an open space in the prayer garden, will reflect our actual worship experience as seminarians in this place.”
Established in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women for service in the Church worldwide, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Currently, the Seminary represents more than 42 different dioceses and 5 different countries, for service in the Church.
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