2019 Convocation and Conferring of Degrees

The School of Theology closed its 2018–19 academic year with a Convocation and Conferring of Degrees on May 10, 2019, in the University of the South’s All Saints’ Chapel. The seminary presented a variety of degrees to 31 students and conferred four honorary degrees. A luncheon for the degree recipients and their families followed the service in McClurg Dining Hall.

The Rt. Rev. Robert S. Skirving, chancellor of the University, Dr. John M. McCardell Jr., vice-chancellor, and the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology, and Dr. Nancy Berner, provost, recognized the recipients of several awards and bestowed degrees upon the students and honored guests. A video recording of the service may be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/335423999

Graduates

The graduating class received a varying level of degrees. Kellan J. Day and Hannah Grant Pommersheim graduated with optime meritus.

Several students received recognition during the service for previously awarded prizes and honors. You can see the full list here.

DAS

Charles Ellis Jenkins

DAS

Linda Ann Morgan

DMIN

Martin Odidi Odidi

DMIN 

Andrew Douglas Buchanan

DMIN L

Mary Martin Douglass Dalby

DMIN P

Margaret Lorraine Ljunggren

DMIN P

James Stanley Melynk

MA

Chanju Allan Banda

MA

Julius Francis Chunga

MA

Caroline Tracy Holmes

MA

Jean Berchmans Mweningoma

Senior

Bradley David Bates

Senior

James Garrett Asa Boyte

Senior

David Fredrickson Burman

Senior

Caroline Patton Carson

Senior

Allison Mackenzie Caudill

Senior

Kellan Jo Day

Senior

Christopher Glenn Dell

Senior

Elizabeth Ann Brooks Harden

Senior

Joseph Leslie Hegwood Jr.

Senior

Melissa Lee Kean

Senior

Mark Steven Nabors

Senior

Hannah Grant Pommersheim

Senior

Polly Holcomb Robb

Senior

Kevin Antonio Smallwood

Senior

Cameron Scott Spoor

Senior

Marion Center Sprott-Goldson

Senior

Elmore Torbert Jr.

Senior

Sarah Leann Wigner

Senior

William James Yazell

STM

Amy Lynn Spagna

Honorary Degrees

This year’s honorary degree recipients were notable servants of the Church and diverse in their respective fields of ministry—the Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha, an Anglican priest in Uganda active in HIV/Aids related issues; the Rt. Rev. Maria Griselda Delgado, first woman diocesan bishop to serve the Diocese of Cuba; the Rev. Canon George Frederick Dettwiller II, canon for special projects for the Diocese of Tennessee; and the Rt. Rev. Carl Walter Wright, bishop suffragan for Armed Forces and Federal Ministries of The Episcopal Church.

Wright, T’17, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, recently received his doctor of ministry degree from the School of Theology. He oversees all Episcopal chaplains serving the military, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Wright has served as in parish ministry and has enjoyed a 32-year military career with the Air Force. In 1993, he was commissioned a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force until his retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2011. He has been active in The Episcopal Church as a civilian priest as a musician, preacher, and retreat leader.

Byamugisha has become prominent in the international HIV/AIDS community. He has worked as an advisor to World Vision and has travelled internationally to speak about HIV/AIDS, including at a conference at the U.S. White House in December 2002. Byamugisha, who is HIV positive, received the 26th annual Niwano Peace Prize in recognition of his work to uphold the dignity and human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. He co-founded the African Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Personally Affected HIV and Aids (ANERELA+) in February 2002, and in 2006 started a shelter for orphans of AIDS victims. 

Delgado attended the Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas, Cuba, and was ordained as a deacon in 1986. In 1991, she was ordained as an Episcopal priest in a ceremony of ordinations that included two other women, the first four women priests of The Episcopal Church of Cuba. She served in parish ministry for the next 20 years, inspiring the congregation to work together to create a self-sustaining community system of agro-ecological farms on and around the church. In July 2018 at the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Delgado lead the successful legislative effort for reunification of the Diocese of Cuba to The Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.

Dettwiller has built a corporation that today employs over 200 people and generates over $100 million annually. In 2004, he was called to ordained ministry and since that time has served as the Canon for Special Projects for the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee assisting the bishop, the Rt. Rev. John Bauerschmidt. Dettwiller was lead chaplain to the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority and its Department of Public Safety. In addition to time serving in parishes, he founded the airport’s chaplaincy program and is past chairman of both the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority and the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission.

Sermon and Remarks

The Rt. Rev. Carl Wright gave the sermon, citing many fond memories of his time at the School of Theology as a D.Min. student. He congratulated the graduates for their achievements and compared their formation to the germination of a seed—from their first arrival and total immersion, the rooting in scripture, the flowering of faith, and going out to spread the seeds of Good News to others. You can read the text of his sermon here.

Vice-Chancellor McCardell addressed the graduates with a message of “an ounce of hope.” He thanked them for their commitment to residential theological education. He went on say that they were “being charged with the most solemn, and challenging – and joyful—of tasks. You are being called to be that “ounce of hope” in the communities you will serve and whose members you will save, whose faith you will nourish even in the midst of doubt and despair – including your own." You can read his remarks here.