The Dean's Cross awarded to Charles F. Bolden Jr. and Lonnie Hamilton III

Media Contact: Curtis Prather  
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ALEXANDRIA, VA –  During a special service of Advent Lessons and Carols on December 4, 2017, the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary, conferred the Dean’s Cross for Servant Leadership in Church and Society Award to Charles F. Bolden Jr. and Lonnie Hamilton III.

I think perhaps, if I am honest, that one of my favorite services of the year,” Markham said. "The music is just sublime; the pattern of Scripture and carols is just delightful. It is a real moment to literally prepare for Christmas. From Genesis to the nativity narrative in one service. It is the best way to ease into the Advent season.." 

Established in 2008, the Dean’s Cross Award recognizes outstanding leaders who embody their baptismal vows to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” Selected annually by VTS’ dean in consultation with the chair of the Board of Trustees, the honorees receive a handmade silver cross, modeled after the seminary chapel cross, and a certificate. 

Even though Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden Jr. (USMC-Ret.) has spent nearly 700 hours in space on four Space Shuttle missions, some of his most enduring accomplishments are those that he has achieved on land, intertwining his faith, his work and his daily life. Although born into a Presbyterian family, he convinced his parents to allow him to attend St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where there was a more vibrant youth group. He immediately took on active roles there, including serving as an acolyte and lay Eucharistic minister. Bolden currently serves as an independent Director of the LORD Corporation and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings. He also serves as a pro-bono Director of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, the Naval Academy Foundation and the Alliance for Peacebuilding.

Lonnie Hamilton III gained a reputation not only as a gifted educator but also as a charismatic figure who was popular with students and who could help ease tensions at Bonds-Wilson and other North Charleston area schools resulting from the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. In the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, he led the diocesan Community Housing Development Organization, which has converted dozens of properties into affordable housing units. In 2012, when a rebellious South Carolina bishop tried to lead a walkout of his delegation from the General Convention, Hamilton, a lay delegate, refused to join. His courageous action allowed lower South Carolina to remain a part of the Episcopal Convention.


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 193 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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