Bishop of London speaks at Opening Convocation

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Opening Convocation for the Easter Semester at Sewanee was held Tuesday, Jan. 24, in All Saints’ Chapel. The Right Reverend and Right Honorable Richard Chartres KCVO FSA, Bishop of London, gave the Convocation address and received an honorary Doctor of Divinity. Ninety-eight students were awarded their academic gowns during the Convocation, including 21 students who had previously been inducted in absentia into the Order of Gownsmen. See photos from the day here.

Bishop Chartres’ passion for the environment is expressed by his chairmanship of Shrinking the Footprint, the church’s program of energy conservation, and his Convocation address reflected that passion. Quoting scholars from William Porcher DuBose to Descartes and T.S. Eliot, the bishop praised a “church that is not afraid to reason and not ashamed to adore.”

He spoke eloquently of a spiritual dimension to environmental concern and of the search for holistic wisdom—the need for harmony in human relationships with God and with the natural world. The bishop asked students to continue their study and search for wisdom, which he defined as a harmonious way of being in the world, and reminded them of the urgency of the quest.

Richard Chartres became the 132nd Bishop of London in 1995. After reading history at Trinity College, Cambridge, he was ordained in 1973 and became Chaplain to Robert Runcie, Bishop of St. Alban’s, in 1975. He followed Runcie to Lambeth Palace when he became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1980, and first visited Sewanee with the Archbishop.

In addition to his appointment as Bishop of London, he is Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal, Prelate of the Order of the British Empire, ex officio member of the House of Lords and a Privy Counsellor, and a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

David R. Pitts also received an honorary degree during the Convocation; an honorary Doctor of Civil Law was conferred upon Pitts. He is the chairman and CEO of Pitts Management Associates, a national hospital and healthcare management and consulting firm, and president of the national healthcare think tank, Health Insights. Pitts also is a longtime national lay leader in many Episcopal ministries, including the Episcopal Church Medical Trust and Episcopal Relief & Development. He is an honorary canon of Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans.

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