Virginia Theological Seminary Awards Five with Honorary Degrees

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(Alexandria, Va.) - Honorary doctorates were conferred upon five distinguished recipients at Virginia Theological Seminary’s annual Academic Convocation yesterday. The Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, was awarded to the Rev. Talmage G. Bandy and Dr. Christena Cleveland. The Doctor of divinity, honoris causa degree was awarded to the Rev. Canon Rosemary Muthoni Mbogo, the Rt. Rev. José A. McLoughlin, and the Rt. Dr. Rev. George Meshack Okoth. 

"We are delighted to confer these honorary degrees on such distinguished women and men,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary, of the five men, all of whom are graduates of VTS. "From diocesan service to diaconal volunteer work to a distinguished academic, we are touching key areas of ministry and service. We are proud of their ministry and their impact. They are making a difference to the Church."

The Rev. Talmage G. Bandy, Deacon, A.A. is the Deacon in the Diocese of North Carolina. A teacher, a wife, a mother, and an administrator for the University of Virginia, Bandy, at the age of 65, became deacon at Emmanuel Church in Southern Pines, N.C.  At the age of 75, Bandy traveled to Dodoma Tanzania to teach at Msalato Theological College. Along with artist Jessie MacKay, she created a charity called Karimu (from the kiswahiuli word meaning welcome), that makes connections between Tanzania and groups in the United States.

Christena Cleveland, Ph.D. is a social psychologist, public theologian, author and professor. She is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Organizational Studies at Duke University’s Divinity School and the author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart. In 2014, Cleveland was recognized as one of the one of leading “33 under 33” Christian leaders shaping the next generation of faith.

The Rev. Canon Rosemary Muthoni Mbogo is the Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Kenya. An ordained Priest and Canon of the Church, she is currently the Chairperson of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (N.C.C.K.). Canon Rosemary holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master’s in Theology and Biblical Counseling, is a teacher, Head-teacher, Inspector of schools, lecturer, and University Council Member. Her book “Woman, a vessel of Honour and Great Potential” expresses her desire to uplift women.

The Rev. Canon José A. McLoughlin was elected as the seventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina in 2016. Prior to that, McLoughlin served as the Canon to the Ordinary and Chief-of-Staff for the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. Prior to his call to the priesthood, McLoughlin worked in the Criminal Justice field serving in the State of Florida as a Police Officer and in the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. as the Special Assistant/Senior Advisor to the Assistant Attorney General. Ordained in 2005, McLoughlin was ordained in 2005.

The Rt. Rev. George Meshack Okoth (’04, ’13) The first VTS Doctor of Ministry graduate from Tanzania, Okoth was elected the Bishop of Mara, Tanzania in 2016. The former head of the Biblical Studies department at St. John’s University of Tanzania in Dodoma, Okoth was previously a professor at Msalato Theological College. Okoth has also taught at St. Phillip’s Theological College, Kongwa, and at Buhemba Bible School in Buhemba, Tanzania.  Bishop Okoth received his D.Min. from VTS in 2013.


Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary is the flagship Seminary of the Episcopal Church. One of our first benefactors was Francis Scott Key whose poem provides the text for our national anthem. In the 194 years since being established, VTS has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at
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