Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Four awarded honorary degrees at VTS


Four Receive Honorary Doctorates at Alumni Convocation

Media Contact: Susan Shillinglaw
Tel: 703-461-1764

Alexandria, VA- Honorary doctorates were conferred upon four distinguished recipients at Virginia Theological Seminary’s annual Academic Convocation this evening. The Doctor in Divinity, honoris causa degree was awarded to the Rt. Rev. Larry R. Benfield (VTS ’90), bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas, the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Virginia, and Dr. Jennifer Louise Plane Te Paa, principal of Te Rau Kahikatea, St. John’s Theological College in Auckland, New Zealand. A Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, was conferred upon Russell V. Palmore, Jr., chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia. The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe, bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, who was also slated to receive a Doctor in Divinity, honoris causa, was unable to attend the ceremony due a sudden death in his family. He will be awarded with the degree at a later date.

The Rt. Rev. Larry R. Benfield, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas, was elected to his position on November 11, 2006 and consecrated on January 6, 2007, at the Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock. Benfield is also Rector of Christ Church, where he has served since 2001. Formerly the canon for administration for the diocese of Arkansas, Benfield graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1990 and served at churches in Texas and Arkansas before coming to Christ Church.

The Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston, is the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Virginia. He was consecrated a bishop at the Washington National Cathedral on May 26, 2007. As coadjutor, he is exercising jurisdiction in the Diocese in the area of clergy deployment, in addition to assisting Bishop Peter James Lee and working with Bishop Suffragan David C. Jones in all responsibilities of Episcopal ministry. Bishop Johnston will become the 13th diocesan Bishop of Virginia upon Bishop Lee’s resignation by May, 2010.

Dr. Jennifer Louise Plane Te Paa, is principle of Te Rau Kahikatea, St. Johns Theological College in Auckland New Zealand where she has worked since 1995. She is the first lay woman to be appointed as head of an Anglican theological college throughout the Anglican Communion. She has served as a member of General Synod for the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia since 1998, and, most recently, finished ten years of service on the National Anglican Church Social Justice Commission.

Russell V. Palmore, Jr., Esquire, chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia, is a partner in the Richmond and Atlanta-based law firm of Troutman Sanders, LLP and an active member of St. Paul's, Richmond. The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of Virginia, named Mr. Palmore Chancellor of the Diocese in 1987 to succeed Hugo Blankingship. The Chancellor of the Diocese is legal counsel to the Bishop and the Annual Council, both in matters of canon and civil law. Palmore holds a B.A. degree from Hampton-Sydney College and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.

Founded 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 40 different dioceses and 5 different countries, for service in the Church.

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