During the service of Evensong and Convocation on October 19, the General Theological Seminary (GTS), the oldest seminary of the Episcopal Church, awarded its Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, to the Rev. Richard Nelson Bolles, Canon Karen Noble Hanson, the Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos-Orench, and the Rev. Christopher Lawrence Webber. The degrees were conferred by the Seminary's dean and president, the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. The Rev. Denis Michael O'Pray, rector of the Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel, California and chair of the GTS Board of Trustees, was the preacher.
The Rev. Richard Bolles graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. degree (cum laude) in 1950. From GTS he earned his Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree in 1953 and his Master of Sacred Theology degree in 1957. He is also a former Fellow and Tutor at GTS. Bolles served as a parish priest in New Jersey and in California and has led many clergy conferences and seminary workshops. The book for which he is best known, "What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers," has appeared in print each year since it was first published in 1970 and has been termed "the best-selling job-hunting book in the world."
Karen Noble Hanson received her B.A. degree from the University of Rochester. Her life has been motivated by a deep sense of justice, compassion, inclusion, and equality. She served as director of the Farmer's Home Administration for the State of New York and drafted a plan to build housing for seniors and low-income workers throughout the state. Led by her sense of justice, she became one of the founders of Rural Opportunity, an organization committed to addressing the issues of migrant workers. She presently serves the Diocese of Rochester as chief financial officer and Lay Canon. Having a passion for all things musical, she serves as president of the Rochester Philharmonic and has composed hymns, anthems, and service music. She embodies essential qualities of leadership and pursues these within a community of faith.
The Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos-Orench holds a B.A. degree from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, a Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Caribbean, where he later served as professor of Pastoral Theology for seven years, and the Doctor of Ministry degree. In September of 2006 he was installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Central Ecuador. He brings to the Latin American community of the Episcopal Church experience as a dedicated pastor to congregations and a gifted leader who communicates a reconciling vision to dioceses of the church. He has served as a Trustee of GTS, a member of the Commission for Theological Education in Latin America, the Standing Commission for World Mission, the National Hispanic Coalition, the Urban Caucus, and the Episcopal Church's Executive Council. To his ministry as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Connecticut he brought extensive experience in congregations in Puerto Rico and Connecticut.
The Rev. Christopher Webber earned a B.A. degree from Princeton University in 1953, a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from GTS in 1956, and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from GTS in 1963. He has also served GTS as a Fellow and Tutor, and later as an adjunct professor. Webber currently serves as vicar of Christ Church, Canaan, Connecticut and of the Chapel of All Saints, Cornwall, Connecticut. He is the author of 24 books and pamphlets, most recently "Give Us Grace: An Anthology of Anglican Prayer," which brings together a collection of five hundred Anglican prayers reflecting the diversity and strength of the Anglican Communion. Scholar, author, pastor, teacher, Webber has also published numerous hymn texts, 19 poems, more than 30 articles and 16 book reviews, as well as serving on a variety of diocesan and church committees. He is a consummate homilist, and as a pastor has consistently championed civil liberties, peace, justice, and gender equality.
The General Theological Seminary conferred its first honorary degree in 1885. The stately ceremony of Convocation, devised during this period of the seminary's history, continues with few changes today.