Monday, October 29, 2018

Yesterday, Virginia Theological Seminary was pleased to host the northern Virginia farewell to Bishop Shannon Johnson. Bishop Shannon and I arrived at virtually the same time. At our first meeting, he gave me his business card with every conceivable number on it. "I want to support you and the Seminary," he said to me.

And he has supported both the Seminary and me. Perhaps his major legacy was his appropriate guidance that the Seminary needed a chapel that reflects the center of the Episcopal Church. He understood that our low church sensibilities will mean that the new chapel will not have a icons on every wall, but he did press for an ambry for the reserved sacrament. The issue of the ambry went to the Board of Trustees; his voice, counseling that this was essential, was key in the debate. On many other questions, he has been supportive. He was pleased that the Seminary had a connection with the Rev. Dr. Tory Baucum; he advocated for the Center for Liturgy and Music; he was delighted when Dr. James Farwell was added to the Faculty; and he liked the way the Seminary was "orthodox" and "open" - mainly because this reflected exactly his own theological position.

Bishop Shannon became our Honorary Chair and presided at the opening Eucharist of the semester in September. His presence at the altar was striking and powerful. Perhaps it was as the celebrant that he was most at home. And for that witness in a community that strives to form many in our community to feel comparably at home behind the altar, I am grateful.

The Very Rev Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President
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