Texas seminary set to launch Payne Lectureship, award four doctoral degrees

January 7, 2008

The February 13-14 meeting of the board of trustees of the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest (ETSS) in Austin, Texas, will include the launch of the Bishop Claude Payne Lectureship and the awarding of honorary doctoral degrees upon bishops Dena Harrison of Texas; Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan; David Reed of West Texas; and Greg Rickel of Olympia. All are graduates of ETSS.

Seminary trustees established the Bishop Payne Lectureship to honor the retired bishop of the Diocese of Texas, and former ETSS board chair. Payne served as a member of the board when he was rector of St. Martin's Church in Houston. Under his service, ETSS launched its innovative master of arts in pastoral ministry degree program for working lay people, expanded its national presence and launched a fund drive for the Durstan R. McDonald Faculty and Education Building. Payne and his wife, Barbara, reside in their Salado retirement home.

Delivering the inaugural lecture, titled "The Three Chapter Story of the American Church," will be the Rev. Canon Dr. Samuel Wells, dean of the Chapel at Duke University.

"We are delighted to have Professor Wells open the Payne Lectureship as we honor four of our seminary graduates who are new members of the House of Bishops," said the Rev. Douglas Travis, D. Min., dean and president of ETSS.

Wells was a community worker in inner-city Liverpool in England before entering parish ministry in 1991. He served several churches in England and was active in community-led urban regeneration before coming to Duke. A graduate of Merton College, Oxford, with a master's degree in modern history, he earned a bachelor of divinity degree in systematic theology from Edinburgh University. The title of his Ph.D. in Christian ethics dissertation at Durham University was "How the Church Performs Jesus' Story."

The author of several articles in academic and popular journals, Wells has written five books, the most recent being "Power and Passion: Six Characters in Search of Resurrection."

ETSS will hold the award ceremony for its four graduates -- Harrison, class of 1987; Ousley, class of 1991; Reed, class of 1983, and Rickel, class of 1996 -- on February 13 during a service at nearby All Saints' Episcopal Church. A reception in the parish hall will follow the noon service.

Further information about the lecture is available here.

ETSS enrolls 105 students in a variety of degree programs. About one-half are divinity students with the other being working lay people who are enrolled in the part-time Master of Arts degrees in pastoral ministry (discipleship, spiritual formation or chaplaincy) and counseling. Visit http://www.ssw.edu/ for more.

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