The Virginia Theological Seminary awarded the inaugural Dean’s Cross for Servant Leadership in Church and Society Feb. 15 to Octavia “Tay” Woods of New York (lay honoree) and Rev. Canon Harold T. Lewis, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church (clergy honoree. The Dean’s Cross was awarded by Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president of Virginia Seminary, and by Rev. Peter James Lee, bishop of Virginia, during a special evensong service in the Seminary Chapel.
Established in November 2008, the Dean’s Cross award 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.
“Our work here at Virginia Seminary is formation,” said Markham, “and this award celebrates the well-formed life, which involves living out the values of the baptismal covenant and making a difference in society.”
Lewis was honored for his gospel values and powerful witness to the genius of Anglicanism with its respect for learning, tolerance and openness. Author of “A Church for the Future: South Africa as the Crucible for Anglicanism in a New Century,” Lewis tells the story of the South African Church from its role in the first Lambeth conference to the present day.
During his dinner remarks, Lewis said, “I often talk about having a glimpse of the heavenly Jerusalem as the very purpose of our existence, and with this award am reminded by that great hymn by Dr. Bowie: ‘Give us, oh God, the strength to build the city that hath stood too long a dream, whose laws are love, whose crown is servanthood, and where the sun that shinneth is God’s grace for human good.’”