Three to receive honorary doctorates at Virginia seminary

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April 17, 2008

At the 185th Commencement of the Virginia Theological Seminary on May 22, honorary doctorates will be conferred upon three distinguished recipients.

The Doctor in Divinity, honoris causa, degree will be awarded to the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, archbishop-elect of the Episcopal Church in the Sudan and Bishop of the Diocese of Renk; and Dr. Fredrica Harris Thompsett, the Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Katharine Jefferts Schori serves as the head of the 2.4 million Episcopal members in 16 countries and 110 dioceses, and meets and consults regularly with the bishops of the 38 member Provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Elected Presiding Bishop in June of 2006 at General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, Jefferts Schori is the first woman ever to be elected to the position. She is a tireless advocate for the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. She holds a B.S. degree in biology from Stanford University (1974), an M.S. (1977) and Ph.D. (1983) in oceanography from Oregon State University, an M.Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific (1994), and an honorary D.D. (2001), also from CDSP.

Daniel Deng Bul Yak is archbishop-elect of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) and current Bishop of the Diocese of Renk. Since becoming a priest in 1978, Deng Bul has worked tirelessly for peace, justice, and reconciliation among the people and tribes of Sudan. After earning a theological degree in 1977, he worked for 10 years in the Sudan, teaching, preaching, and building up several parishes. He was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Renk in 1988 and build the first Episcopal Church in town. After earning a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1997, he returned to Renk and opened several schools, including the Renk Bible School (now Renk Theological Seminary), planted 12 parish churches and built the Cathedral of St. Matthew. In 2004 he became Secretary of the House of Bishops in the ECS. Deng Bul’s enthronement will be held at All Saints Cathedral in Juba on April 20.

Fredrica Harris Thompsett, the Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a well-known historian, theologian, author and speaker. She has taught at Episcopal seminaries for over 35 years and served as EDS’ Academic Dean from 1986-1999. In addition to serving as a Senior Faculty Consultant for EDS’ Lilly Endowment Pastoral Excellence Project, Thompsett is President of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, the organization which is co-founder and partner with VTS of the African American Episcopal Historical Collection (housed at Virginia Seminary); a member of the Presiding Bishop’s National Committee, Proclaiming Education for All (PEALL), and has worked as an anti-racism trainer in the Episcopal Church. Thompsett counts among her degrees a B.A. from Denison University; an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago; and honorary degrees including a D.D. from General Theological Seminary; a D.D. from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest; a D.C.L. from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary; and a D.C.L. from Hamilton College.