Virginia Seminary Dean’s Cross awarded to three recipients

December 13, 2011

[Virginia Theological Seminary] During a special service of Advent Lessons and Carols [Dec. 11], the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary, and the Right Rev. James J. Shand, D.D., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton and chairman of the Board of Trustees at Virginia Theological Seminary, conferred the Dean’s Cross for Servant Leadership in Church and Society Award to Mr. Rowan LeCompte (in absentia), the Rev. Dr. Joseph W. Lund, and Ms. Sissy Poland.

The Dean’s Cross award, established in 2008, recognizes outstanding leaders who embody their baptismal vows to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” Selected annually by the Seminary Dean in consultation with the Chair of the Board, the Honorees receive a handmade silver cross, modeled after the Seminary Chapel cross, and a certificate.

“The three recipients are exceptional leaders,” said Markham. “The purpose of the Dean’s Cross for Servant Leadership in Church and Society is to recognize the well-formed life.”

Mr. Rowan LeCompte is a renowned artist who has expressed his artistic passion and spirituality through the creation of stained glass windows in numerous churches across the country, including the Washington National Cathedral, Princeton University, Trinity College in Hartford, St. Paul’s in Alexandria, and the Seminary’s 1881 Chapel.

The Rev. Dr. Joseph Lund (VTS ‘91), a parishioner of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Palm Desert, California, has worked tirelessly in service to others through his roles as lawyer, priest, teacher, mentor, and his dedication to fine arts. He is the founder of the Baltimore Curriculum Project, a small non-profit that seeks to improve education in Baltimore City Public Schools by providing teachers and schools with the most effective instructional tools available and with the training to use them.

Ms. Sissy Poland, parishioner of Trinity Episcopal Church in Martinsburg, West Virginia, had been immersed in diocesan and parish life for years, supporting many local community organizations, especially those that serve children and family in need. Poland has been a member of Virginia Seminary’s board of trustees since 1992 where she currently serves as Vice Chair. She chairs the Honorary Degrees Committee, a position she has held during most of her tenure on the Board of Trustees. She also serves on the Academic Affairs, Trustees, Building and Grounds, Institutional Advancement, and the ATS Accreditation Steering Committees.

Past recipients of the Dean’s Cross for Servant Leadership in Church and Society include Alfred Berkley, President of NASDAQ; Muriel Van Dusen Berkeley, founder of the Baltimore Curriculum Project; Phoebe Griswold, wife of the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold; Octavia “Tay” Wood Cooper, a lifelong servant leader in church and society; the Rev. Canon Harold T. Lewis, Ph.D., D.D., D.C.L, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Bishop of Utah, and David Pitts, parishioner at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; St. Paul’s Rock Creek, Washington, DC.

Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church and was founded in 1823. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and 9 different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas.