Virginia Theological Seminary awards diplomas, honorary degrees

Posted May 18, 2012

[Virginia Theological Seminary] 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 recipient of the 2012 Virginia Seminary Ford Chair, a gift of Susan Ford to a member of the graduating class who has exhibited a strong commitment to the community life and mission of the Seminary, was Virginia Cuthbert Wilder from the Diocese of Western North Carolina.

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 St. George’s College Prize for study at St. George’s College in Jerusalem was given to Daniel M. Cenci (Diocese of North Carolina), and the Dudley Speech Prize, awarded to graduating students who, in the opinion of the faculty, have demonstrated excellence in the public reading and interpretation of the Scriptures and the Liturgy, was given to Florence May Mei Jee (Diocese of Eastern Kowloon) and Shawn O. Strout (Diocese of Washington).

This year, the Seminary conferred Doctors in Divinity, honoris causa, upon the Rev. P. Roger Bowen, Episcopal school leader and former head of St. Stephen’s School in Austin, Texas; 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 almost $8 thousand 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.”