The School of Theology. Sewanee: The University of the South

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Founders Day Convocation to Bestow Honorary Degrees

The Founders’ Day Convocation will be held at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, in All Saints’ Chapel. The ceremony will include the conferral of three honorary degrees and the induction of new members into the Order of Gownsmen.

The University of the South is honored to confer upon the Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, bishop of the diocese of Northwest Texas, and the Rt. Rev. Scott A. Benhase, bishop of the diocese of Georgia, the degrees of Doctor in Divinity. Bill McKibben, the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and author of a dozen books about the environment, will deliver the Founders’ Day address and receive an honorary Doctor of Letters. McKibben's book Hope, Human and Wild was this year’s summer reading assignment for the undergraduates. 

The Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer has been bishop of Northwest Texas since March 2009. He is a native, lifelong Texan and a 1992 graduate of Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest. Prior to his election as bishop, Mayer served Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, Texas, for 14 years (first as associate from 1994-95, then as rector from 1995-2008). Prior to entering seminary, he worked in sales in the automotive aftermarket in Houston and Dallas. As a bishop, Mayer is known for his collaborative approach to leadership and his ability to articulate a clear vision. He is a reconciler, as evidenced in his track record as a parish priest: his congregation’s membership remained stable and harmonious despite division and strife in the greater Church in 2003 and following. He believes diversity of thought and practice is central to Anglican identity and heritage, a perspective he credits to his experience over the years in a variety of congregations – low-church evangelical, high-church Anglo-catholic, renewal, contemplative, small, large, liberal, and conservative. He is known for his servant leadership and his love for the people he serves.

The Rt. Rev. Scott A. Benhase became the 10th bishop of Georgia on Jan. 23, 2010. Benhase has served parishes from Indianapolis to Washington, D.C. He worked with small churches threatened with closure until his call to St. Alban’s in Washington, D.C., where he was the rector of the parish church on the grounds of the National Cathedral. Whether in small churches or large churches, Benhase has laid similar emphasis on church growth, evangelism, and stewardship. He is an advocate for the poor and homeless. He has been successful in cross-cultural ministry, sharing in the transformation of St. Paul’s Church in East Cleveland from a small parish slated for closure in 1985 to a thriving neighborhood parish with a majority black population by the time he left in 1990. Trinity Episcopal Church, a small, African American parish in Charlottesville, Va., became a thriving multicultural parish. He led St. Philip’s in Durham, N.C., in its transformation from an aging, downtown parish to a large, revitalized parish, with a tripled annual budget and several major capital campaigns to expand the parish facilities.