School of Theology Announces Honorary Degree Recipients

The University of the South’s School of Theology has announced its honorary degree recipients for Commencement on May 6. The Rt. Rev. James Russell Kendrick, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast will receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree and will also preach during the commencement service. Honorary degrees will also be presented to Bruce Eldon Neswick, canon for cathedral music at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Ore., and Richard Webster, director of music and organist at Trinity Church in Boston, Mass.

Richard Webster is the director of music and organist at Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston. In 2011, he was awarded the honorary Fellowship of the Royal School of Church Music at Peterborough Cathedral in England. In 2005, he cofounded the Trinity Choristers, a choir of 35 boys and girls. With the Trinity Choirs, the Choristers have toured England twice, singing residencies at Ely, Lincoln, Chichester and St. Paul’s Cathedrals. Since 1975, Webster has been the music director of Chicago’s Bach Week Festival, an annual concert series of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach performed by some of America’s pre-eminent musicians. His hymn arrangements for brass, timpani, organ, and singers are heard across the English-speaking world, including on the BBC’s “Songs of Praise.” He completes several commissioned works a year and travels extensively to direct hymn festivals and choral workshops. Richard Webster’s articles on church music have appeared in The American Organist, the Chicago Tribune, The Living Church, and the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians. He was a contributing author to Leading the Church’s Song. Webster is well known to Sewanee, having served as faculty for the Sewanee Church Music Conference and, on various occasions, as a visiting teacher, conductor, clinician, and recitalist. Most recently, he was the conductor of a grand hymn festival in All Saints’ Chapel. A native of Nashville, Webster studied organ with Peter Fyfe, Karel Paukert, and Wolfgang Rübsam. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Great Britain as organ scholar at Chichester Cathedral. He is a passionate runner, and has completed 31 marathons, including 14 Boston Marathons.

Bruce Eldon Neswick is the canon for cathedral music at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, Oregon. Prior to joining the faculty at Indiana University, where he was associate professor of organ, Neswick was the director of music at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. There he conducted the Choir of Girls, Boys, and Adults and had oversight of the musical life of that historic church. He has conducted dozens of summer camps and festivals for boy and girl choristers, and has been commissioned to compose for performers and churches throughout North America. Neswick is one of America’s major talents in the field of organ performance and is especially noted for his superb ability as an improviser. His playing is widely recognized for its incisiveness, vitality, and expressiveness. As a recitalist, he has performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe and has been a featured artist at national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists. Neswick’s skill at improvisation garnered him first prizes from the 1989 San Anselmo Organ Festival; the 1990 American Guild of Organists’ national convention in Boston; and the 1992 Rochette Concours at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland. He holds a bachelor of music degree from Pacific Lutheran University in his native Washington state, and a master of music from the Yale School of Music. He holds fellowship degrees from the American Guild of Organists and the Royal School of Church Music.

The Rt. Rev. James Russell Kendrick was elected as the fourth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast in 2015 and was ordained bishop in July of that year. The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast includes southern Alabama and the panhandle of Florida, with 62 churches and approximately 20,000 members. At the time of his election, he stated that this call would be a partnership of support and creativity for himself and the diocese. A native of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Kendrick earned a bachelor of arts in architecture and marketing from Auburn University in 1984. A life-long Episcopalian, he served as a volunteer youth minister and in other capacities before receiving a master of divinity in 1995 from Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1996. From 2007 to the time of his election as bishop, Kendrick was rector of St. Stephen’s in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to that, he was the rector of St. Paul’s in Newnan, Georgia. He began his ministry as assistant to the rector at Church of the Nativity in Dothan, Alabama. Kendrick has in common with Sewanee seminarians the experience of the Jonathan Myrick Daniels pilgrimage in Hayneville, Alabama. He has spoken of the realization there that a pilgrimage is not simply about standing in a place—but instead a pilgrimage is made sacred by the people with whom you stand.