General Seminary to present 5 honorary degrees, Moore Medal

April 29, 2010

During its 188th commencement ceremony on May 19, General Theological Seminary will award honorary doctoral degrees to Ruth Bakare, the Rt. Rev. Sebastian Bakare, the Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne KBE FRS, Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo, and the Rev. Dr. J. Robert Wright. The Clement Clarke Moore Medal will be presented to David N. Redden and to Jeannette Redden.

GTS Dean Ward B. Ewing will also award degrees, diplomas, or certificates to 51 women and men.

Ruth Bakare of Zimbabwe is an advocate for the welfare and development of women and children. As an educator, she has taught on many levels in Europe and in Africa. When her husband was elected bishop of the Diocese of Manicaland, she became president of the diocesan Mother's Union, which is a strong force for improving the lot of women and families, particularly addressing issues of AIDS, absentee husbands, limited education, nutrition and limited career choices for women. In 2006, she and her husband founded the Christian Relief and Development Trust, which seeks to offer widows and displaced children nutritional, educational, psychosocial support and HIV/AIDS prevention services. In 2007 she served as a representative to the U.N. Observer's Office and also became president of the Mother's Union of Harare.

The Rt. Rev. Sebastian Bakare is acting bishop of Harare, Zimbabwe, where he has led the church during a tense and sometimes violent political situation under a hostile government. Prior to his ministry in Harare, he served as Bishop of Manicaland, where he achieved remarkable success in social welfare and development projects, and served as President of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. Before becoming a bishop, he was professor and chaplain at the University of Harare. His theological interests include Christianity in its cultural context (particularly on African issues), ecumenism, and the theology of land reform. During the last years of Rhodesia in the early 1980s, at the end of 18 years in exile, Bakare brought his family to Berkeley, California, where he did advanced studies at the Graduate Theological Union.

The Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne, KBE FRS, was born in 1930 in Weston-super-Mare, England. He is a priest of the Church of England, a particle physicist and theologian, and has written extensively on matters concerning science and faith. During his 25 years as a theoretical physicist at the University of Cambridge, Polkinghorne worked on theories of elementary particles and played a significant role in the discovery of the quark. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1974. He resigned his professorial chair to study for the priesthood at Cambridge and was ordained in 1982. He returned to Cambridge to be dean of the chapel at Trinity Hall, then President of Queens' College, Cambridge, a position from which he retired in 1996. In 1997 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) and in 2002 was awarded the Templeton Prize for his contributions to research at the interface between science and religion.

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo was elected in May of 2008 to a six-year term as bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Metropolitan New York Synod. Born in Joliet, Illinois, Rimbo graduated from Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, and served two years as executive assistant to the project director of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, New York, which produced the Lutheran Book of Worship. He was pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Valley Stream, New York, and of St. James Lutheran Church, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, and was an assistant to the bishop of the ELCA Southeast Michigan Synod from 1991 to 1996. When elected bishop of the ELCA Southeast Michigan Synod in 1998, he was pastor of Antioch Lutheran Church, Farmington Hills, Michigan. He left the office of bishop in 2005 to become pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, New York City.

The Rev. Canon J. Robert Wright, D.Phil., is St. Mark's Church in the Bowery Professor of Ecclesiastical History at GTS. A specialist in patristic studies and Anglicanism, Dr. Wright is also a leading authority on the Book of Common Prayer and on Russian Orthodox and other icons. He is an internationally known figure in ecumenical dialogue between the Episcopal Church and other churches, particularly the Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, and Russian Orthodox churches, as well as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Wright graduated from the University of the South and received his doctorate at Oxford University. In 2006, on the occasion of his 70th birthday, a festschrift was published: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Studies in Christian Ecclesiality and Ecumenism in honor of J. Robert Wright. His own most recent book, published in 2008, is A Companion to Bede, a major commentary on the ecclesiastical history of the Venerable Bede. Dr. Wright is president of the Anglican Society, chaplain to the Guild of Scholars of The Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church's official historiographer. In 2007, he was awarded the Archbishop of Canterbury's Cross of St. Augustine for his scholarly contributions to ecumenical dialogue.

David N. Redden and Jennette Redden, co-recipients of the 2010 Clement Clarke Moore Medal, have given countless hours of service of General Seminary, where they have resided since 2004. They co-chair the Chelsea Square Conservancy executive committee, which seeks to raise awareness of the beauty and importance of the seminary's historic home. Jennette Redden has personally donated many years of service in the Seminary gardens, tending and planting and teaching other volunteers. She has long been associated with the Garden Club of America and with the Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties. David Redden has also taken a special interest in the seminary library, providing leadership to its organization of Friends. He is vice chairman of Sotheby's, where he has directed prestigious sales, including that of the estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Declaration of Independence, and the recent sale of Magna Carta for $21.3 million dollars.