The honorary degree of Doctor in Divinity will be conferred upon Bishop Gondi Theodore Abraham of Nandyal (South India), and Bishop John Chien of the Diocese of Taiwan (USA), by Virginia Theological Seminary during the Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference in Canterbury.
The seminary is holding a special Academic Convocation in the Crypt Chapel at the Canterbury Cathedral on Monday, July 27, at 2:15 p.m., for the occasion. The degrees will be awarded by the Bishop Peter James Lee of Virginia, who is chairman of the seminary's board of trustees. The Rev. Dr. William Stafford, associate dean for academic affairs at the seminary, will officiate during the Convocation. The announcement was made by the Very Rev. Martha Horne, dean and president of the 175-year old Episcopal Seminary.
Gondi Theodore Abraham earned the Bachelor of Science degree at the Government Arts College at Cuddepah, India, and received his Bachelor in Divinity at United Theological College in Bangalore in 1966. Ordained in 1967, Abraham undertook pastoral work in rural and urban churches. He went on to serve as deanery chairman in Nandikotur for several years, and during that time he attended Virginia Seminary and received the postgraduate diploma in Theology in 1983. Since his return to India, Abraham has served as the bursar of Andhra Christian Theological College and then deanery chairman of Kurnool and Proddatur. In 1994 he was consecrated as bishop of Nandyal.
Abraham's episcopal responsibilities have included the wide concerns that have characterized his whole ministry: youth work, adult literacy, lay leadership and evangelism, ecumenical relations, and especially work with the poor and "those who have no helper."
John Chien studied economics at Tunghai University and theology at Tainan Theological Seminary in Taiwan. After ordination he served for three years at St. Andrew's-by-the-Sea, a parish consisting mostly of fishermen, and later as vicar of Grace Church, a mission in Tainan. He then went to Virginia Seminary and earned the STM in 1974, and returned to Taiwan to begin an 11-year ministry as rector of Good Shepherd parish near Taipei. After a year's study in England, Chien was called as dean of St. John's Cathedral in Taipei, where he served for two years and was then elected bishop of Taiwan.
Throughout his ministry Chien has been noted for his administrative abilities, patience and pastoral skills, Christian character, and his visionary leadership. He has begun new initiatives in many areas of the diocese's life, expanding ordained and lay ministries and fostering theological education.
Transportation via coach will be provided for friends of the honorees as well as other bishops who have studied at Virginia Theological Seminary, leaving from Eliot College, leaving at 1:45pm and returning immediately after the Convocation. For further information, contact Bishop Peter James Lee in Rutherford College or Christopher T. Cunningham on campus at the Lambeth Conference on x7336, or in the Eliot Study Center.