In accordance with an action plan made at their meeting last month, the board of trustees of the General Theological Seminary on June 9 unanimously approved the appointment of the Rev. Lang Lowrey III, 56, as the seminary's interim president, according to a news release from the school.
Lowrey is currently founding vicar at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Georgia, and also serves as a senior partner in two Atlanta-based firms; Renova, a bank restructuring and consulting company, and Genesis Business Advisory, which provides management and investment services to small- and mid-sized businesses.
Seminary trustees decided that the serious financial challenges currently faced by the seminary would be most effectively addressed by dividing the position of dean and president into two separate posts, a practice common in academic institutions, according to the GTS release. As president, Lowrey will have all constitutional powers previously lodged with the dean and president; however the seminary will also begin an immediate search for a Dean to have oversight of the academic and day-to-day operations.
"We believe Fr. Lowrey is uniquely qualified to lead the seminary in addressing its immediate challenges and to prepare the way for longer-term leadership beyond the interim period," said Dr. Michael Gilligan, chair of the board's search committee
After college at Georgia Tech and Georgia State University, Lowrey owned and ran several successful ventures before selling them to create Buckhead Technology Angels to incubate emerging technology companies. He twice was selected to run Fortune 500 firms facing difficult challenges, implementing complex turnaround plans and securing robust equity events. Following a period of discernment, he responded to a call to ordained ministry. As a postulant from the Diocese of Atlanta, he attended Candler School of Theology and was ordained to priesthood in 2004.
Following parish ministry in Florida, Lowrey was asked by Bishop Neil Alexander to plant a church and day school in the Diocese of Atlanta. This new start involved locating, financing and purchasing land, designing the facility, building the church and finding parishioners. St. Benedict's Episcopal Church and Day School is now fully established, and is in the process of calling a rector to succeed Lowrey, the founding vicar.
"Fr. Lowrey brings to GTS a unique combination of skills that match perfectly the Seminary's immediate institutional needs," said board chair the Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray at a gathering of students, faculty, and staff following the board meeting. "He has high-level and proven abilities in the areas of management, finance, and administration while also possessing an in-depth knowledge of the Episcopal Church and its ordained ministry."
"God is offering us a great opportunity," Lowry told those assembled in Seabury Auditorium. "Dramatic actions are needed within the next sixty days but the opportunity to take this task and to succeed is truly awesome. We need to embrace the reality of the situation but I have confidence in our collective abilities."
O'Pray said that Lowrey would begin work immediately, before the departure of the Seminary's current dean and president, the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, so that there will be ample time for the two to work together to ensure a smooth transition.
Dean Ewing had announced in December of 2009 his intention to retire and with his wife, Jenny Ewing, to return to their family homestead in Ten Mile, Tennessee. On the evening of May 17 more than 300 well-wishers attended a festive farewell to the Ewings, held in the space that will become the seminary's new library.