Jenny McConnachie, one of the longest-serving Episcopal missionaries in the church’s history, will deliver the Founders’ Day address and receive an honorary Doctor of Canon Law during the Oct. 9 Convocation. The Founders’ Day ceremony will include the conferral of additional honorary degrees to Christopher Bryan and Brown Patterson, the installation of the provost of the university, and the induction of new members into the Order of Gownsmen. This year, Convocation will be streamed live.
Jenny McConnachie, a nurse, met her husband, Chris, when they both worked at hospitals in London. Their careers took them from London to Canada, to South Africa and to North Carolina, where they settled and began raising a family. In 1981, the McConnachie family—now with five children—returned to South Africa for what became a lasting commitment. They found an overwhelming demand for healthcare and other services, and in response started the African Medical Mission with support from U.S. churches. Jenny McConnachie launched a medical clinic for people living on the local garbage dump. That program, The Itipini Community Project, now includes a preschool, afterschool and nutrition programs, and other services, providing care to 3,000 people. (The photo, above, shows McConnachie at Sewanee in 2010.)
Honorary degrees awarded during this Convocation have a theme of service to the broad Episcopal Church. The University will confer upon Christopher Bryan, C. K. Benedict Professor of New Testament at Sewanee’s School of Theology, an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, and upon W. Brown Patterson, C’52, Francis S. Houghteling Professor of History emeritus, an honorary Doctor of Letters.
A native of London, Chris Bryan (left)attended Wadham College, Oxford, graduating in the Honour Schools of both Theology and English Language and Literature, and coming under the influence of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Before coming to Sewanee in 1983, he taught New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary, and was associate director of the Center for Continuing Education. Here, Bryan has held the positions of professor of New Testament, interim chaplain, priest associate, and editor of the Sewanee Theological Review. His scholarly books cover topics including the gospel of Mark, St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, and the resurrection of Jesus.
A prolific scholar, Brown Patterson’s books include a definitive history of teaching at the University of the South, The Liberal Arts at Sewanee, and a history of the reign of King James VI and I of Scotland and England. Patterson (right) was the ninth Sewanee student to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1959. Patterson taught history and humanities at Davidson College before returning to Sewanee as dean and professor of history in 1980 to oversee a comprehensive curriculum review that resulted in strengthened academic programs. He is currently at work on a book to be published by Oxford University Press about the Elizabethan Calvinist theologian William Perkins.
During the Convocation, John Swallow, C’89, will be installed as Provost of the University. After majoring in mathematics and English at Sewanee, Swallow earned his Ph.D. from Yale University. He has served on both Sewanee’s Board of Trustees and Board of Regents. Before returning to the Mountain, Swallow was the Kimbrough Professor of Mathematics and Humanities at Davidson College (Davidson, N.C.). At Davidson, he held the highest elected faculty office and was honored with the 2010 Omicron Delta Kappa Teaching Award. As provost, Swallow has led a campus-wide strategic planning effort at Sewanee.