Bishop Peter Lee Named Interim Dean at General Seminary
New York City -- The Rev. Lang Lowrey, Interim President of the General Theological Seminary (GTS) announced today the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, as Interim Dean of GTS, the Episcopal Church’s oldest theological seminary. The former Bishop of Virginia and one of the Church’s longest-serving bishops, Bishop Lee currently serves San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral as Interim Dean.
After the Seminary’s 12th Dean and President, the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, announced in December of 2009 his intention to retire, Trustees of the Seminary formed a search committee under the leadership of trustee Dr. Michael Gilligan. Upon recommendation from the committee and in light of serious financial challenges faced by the school, Trustees decided in June 2010 to divide the post of Dean and President into separate positions. On June 9, 2010 the Rev. Lang Lowrey was selected as Interim President and charged with financial and administrative oversight of the school and was vested with all the constitutional powers previously lodged with the Dean and President. Meanwhile the search continued for a new Interim Dean to be responsible for day-to-day operations of the Seminary including oversight of its academic programs.
Bishop Peter Lee led the Diocese of Virginia for a quarter of a century, beginning his tenure as diocesan bishop in May of 1985. With 81,000 members and 181 congregations the diocese is the Episcopal Church’s largest in the continental US and also one of its oldest, having been founded in 1785. Retiring from the Diocese of Virginia in October of 2009 after 25 years as Bishop, he subsequently became Interim Dean at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, the Episcopal Church’s third largest cathedral. “We are extremely fortunate to have Bishop Lee’s notable gifts and proven abilities. He has a unique ability to shepherd others during these challenging times of change,” said President Lowrey following the appointment. “Bishop Lee has an in-depth knowledge of the Episcopal Church, its ministry, and its current needs and trends in theological education, which he has gained over a lifetime of distinguished leadership.”
Raised in Florida, Peter Lee was awarded his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Washington and Lee University in 1960. He served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and was decorated for his service in Seoul, Korea. He also had a brief career as a newspaper reporter and editor and studied law at Duke University before entering the Virginia Theological Seminary where he received his Master of Divinity cum laude in 1967. Ordained to the diaconate in 1967 and the priesthood in 1968, Bishop Lee served parishes in Florida and in Washington, D.C. For the thirteen years prior to his consecration as a Bishop in 1984, he was Rector of the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a ministry which served both the local community and the University of North Carolina.
Bishop Lee’s leadership abilities rose to national prominence when he was Bishop of Virginia. He is currently chair of the Board of Trustees of the Church Pension Fund and was co-chair of the Joint Nominating for the current Presiding Bishop. He previously served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief and was chairman of its grants committee. He also served as a member of the Cathedral Chapter of the Washington National Cathedral. As diocesan bishop he served as chair of the governing body which owns Roslyn, the diocesan conference and retreat center, and as chair of the Trustees of the Funds of the Diocese of Virginia, an investment vehicle used by several diocesan institutions. He has served on the Advisory Committee to the Anglican Observer at the United Nations and the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Bishop Lee has received numerous honors including the 1997 Jessie Ball duPont Fund Award for "courageous and bold commitment to community leadership and social ministry." He is the recipient of three honorary doctorates, from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1984, from the University of the South in 1993, and from Washington and Lee University in 1998.
A central aspect of Bishop Lee’s lifelong ministry has been his service to a variety of educational institutions. He has served on the Board of Trustees of two Episcopal seminaries, as chairman of the Virginia Theological Seminary’s board of trustees and also as a member of the board of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. As Bishop of Virginia he also presided at the annual meetings of the Church Schools of the Diocese and served as Rector of the Board of the Episcopal High School, a nationally-known institution set on 130 acres in Alexandria with a faculty of 83 and students from 30 states and 20 countries. Bishop Lee and his wife, Kristy, who have been married for 45 years, have two grown children and five grandchildren.
In recent meetings with GTS faculty members and staff, Bishop Lee spoke enthusiastically of the chance to work collaboratively with President Lowrey and the Seminary’s leadership to realize fully the many opportunities currently before General. He emphasized his commitment to the Seminary’s strong sense of community and to the centrality of daily worship, both longstanding hallmarks of life at General, and also to utilizing more fully the seminary’s urban location in training the church’s future leaders. “I believe the Episcopal Church needs to have a seminary in this most international of cities,” he told staff members. “General has always been a grand flagship in theological education and my plan is to do everything possible to see that this important ministry to the Church continues and flourishes.” Bishop Lee will end his Interim Dean responsibilities at Grace Cathedral on September 26, 2010 and will join General immediately thereafter. He will also be on the campus during Orientation Week to meet and greet students.
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Executive Director of Communications
The General Theological Seminary
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