General Theological Seminary awards 4 honorary degrees

October 19, 2010

General Theological Seminary, at its fall convocation on Oct. 14, awarded its Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, to bishops Mark M. Beckwith of Newark, George Councell of New Jersey, Lawrence C. Provenzano of Long Island, and noted author and retreat leader, the Rev. Nancy L. Roth.

Their biographies, as listed in a GTS press release, follow.



Prior to his election as bishop of Newark, Beckwith was rector of All Saints Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. He also served as associate rector of St. Peter's, Morristown, and rector of Christ Church, Hackensack. He is a 1973 graduate of Amherst College, and a 1978 graduate of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. While in the Diocese of Newark, Beckwith was a co-founder of Morris Shelter, Inc. and a co-founder and first president of the Inter-Religious Fellowship of the Homeless in Bergen County. Beckwith has been married to Marilyn Olson since 1982, and they are the parents of two grown children, Christine and Paul.

Councell was born in Detroit and raised in Whittier, California. In 1967, he enrolled at the University of Redlands, where he met his future wife, Ruth Tietjen. After graduating from the University of California, with honors, (Phi Beta Kappa) he received his M.Div., with distinction from the Episcopal Divinity School, graduating in 1975. After serving as rector at St. George's Church in Riverside, California, he served as canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and was later called to the Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois. He was elected the 11th bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey in 2003, and consecrated in October of the same year in Trinity Cathedral in Trenton. Councell serves on the board of trustees of GTS and is married to Ruth Tietjen Councell, an artist and illustrator of six children's books. They have two adult daughters, Sarah Councell Turner and Dr. Martha Councell Vargas.

Provenzano serves as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Long Island, having been consecrated in September of 2009. Prior to his consecration, Provenzano served as rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and St. John's Episcopal Church, both in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and at Christ Episcopal Church in Westerly, Rhode Island. He was twice elected to serve as a deputy to General Convention. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Provenzano attended St. John's University, the University of the State of New York and Christ the King Seminary. He was received as a priest in the Episcopal Church in April 1984. Provenzano is married to the former Jeanne Ross, of Waterford, Connecticut, who was an assistant district attorney for Hampden County, Massachusetts. The Provenzanos have three adult children, Kay, Mary, and Christopher.

Roth is one of the Episcopal Church's most highly regarded resource persons in the area of Christian spirituality. The author of numerous books, a retreat leader, dancer, and musician, her work focuses on the integration of body and spirit and the relationship of Christian faith and ethics to environmental issues. She has served as Christian education consultant at Trinity Church, Wall Street, and travels widely as a retreat conductor and workshop leader. Roth received her M. Div. cum laude from GTS in 1981 and was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in December of that year. She also is a graduate of Oberlin College, receiving a B.A. with a major in music. Roth lives in Oberlin, Ohio, where she undertakes her writing projects as an affiliate scholar at Oberlin College and serves as assisting priest at Christ Episcopal Church. Roth and her husband have two grown children, Christopher and Michael.