General Seminary to Award Three Honorary Degrees at its 2015 Commencement Ceremonies

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The General Theological Seminary has announced the next recipients of its Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, to be conferred at the 193rd Commencement ceremonies on May 20, 2015. Three distinguished leaders will receive the honorary degree: the Rt. Rev. Allen K. Shin '96, Dr. Jennifer Te Paa Daniel, and the Rt. Rev. Robert Christopher Wright.  

The Rt. Rev. Allen Kunho Shin is Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of New York.

Born in South Korea, Shin and his family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1972, where he attended Gonzaga College High School, a Jesuit school for boys.

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He earned his Bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1983, majoring in Music/Vocal Performance. He then spent four years in New York City working as a professional singer, before taking up a position as the choir director at a Korean Episcopal church in Chicago.

Having gone through the discernment process in Chicago, Shin studied for his Master of Divinity degree at The General Theological Seminary in New York City, graduating in 1996. He was ordained to the diaconate in the Diocese of Chicago in June of that year, and to the priesthood in the Diocese of New York that December. Also in 1996, he was called as Curate/Assistant to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in New York City, where he remained until 2001, at the same time taking up the position of Assistant Officer, Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry at the Episcopal Church Center, which he held until 1999.

In 2001, he earned the degree of Master of Sacred Theology from The General Theological Seminary. He then went to England where, from 2002 to 2005, he pursued post-graduate work in Patristic Studies at the University of Oxford. During the course of his studies, he also held the position of Honorary Assistant Priest at All Saints Church, Margaret Street, London. He remained at the University of Oxford from 2005 to 2010 as Fellow and Chaplain of Keble College.

Shin returned from England to the United States in 2010, to take up the position of Rector of St. John's Church, Huntington, New York, in the Diocese of Long Island.

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Dr. Jennifer Louise Te Paa Daniel (Te Rarawa) is an internationally accomplished public theologian and professional consultant in higher education.

Always a pioneer among indigenous women, she was the first Maori in the world to gain an academic degree in Theology (University of Auckland 1992). In 1995 she completed a masters degree in Education, also at the University of Auckland; and in 2001, writing on Race Politics and Theological Education, she was awarded a Ph.D. degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

Te Paa Daniel was the first indigenous Anglican lay woman appointed to lead an Anglican theological college in the worldwide Anglican Communion. She served for three years as a lecturer and was then appointed Ahorangi or Dean of Te Rau Kahikatea at St. John’s Theological College in Auckland, where she served for 22 years from 1992 until 2013. During her time at St. John’s, both her scholarship and her academic leadership were internationally recognized. She was appointed to lead or participate in a number of international delegations and commissions by both the Anglican Communion and the World Council of Churches. Notable among these was her leadership of the international Anglican Peace and Justice network. This work saw her head delegations into parts of the world where peace continues to be globally yearned for, but where justice for all remains an elusive reality, such as Palestine/Israel, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo.

Te Paa Daniel has demonstrated an unceasing commitment to advancing women’s leadership, not only in the Church but in society generally. Her globally-based work mentoring young women, particularly those from the third world and indigenous communities, is well-recognized, and she was an NGO representative for five years to the annual working sessions of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

In 2003 she was awarded the first of three honorary doctorates and, in 2010, she was recognized as Alumna of the Year by her Ph.D. alma mater, the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Later that year, Te Paa Daniel was awarded a Distinguished Alumna Award by the University of Auckland.

Te Paa Daniel has written and researched extensively on gender and social justice, theological education and race politics. She has taught students in New Zealand, Australia, throughout the South Pacific, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, and the United States and in various parts of Asia. She is popularly sought after–nationally and internationally–as a guest speaker, lecturer, facilitator, media commentator, preacher and panelist, on a wide range of political and theological issues, particularly those concerning social justice, indigenous rights, race politics, feminist politics and theological education.

In 2014 she served as the inaugural St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor to the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. Although technically semi-retired, through this year alone she will have worked in Aotearoa in New Zealand, Cuba, Fiji, Kenya and the United States on various projects dear to her heart.

Te Paa Daniel is married to medical specialist Dr. Roro Mana Daniel. 

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The Rt. Rev. Robert Christopher Wright is the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, which covers north and central Georgia and embraces 110 worshiping communities. At the time of his election in June 2012, he had served 10 years as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Prior to that, he was a school chaplain and on the staff of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City.

Since becoming bishop, Wright addressed the Georgia legislature about gun control, spoke up for Medicaid expansion and has been a vocal and active opponent of the death penalty in Georgia. In commemoration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, he prayed with a City of Atlanta sanitation crew before taking an early morning shift on the back of a city garbage truck. In January 2015, he was named among the 100 most influential Georgians by GeorgiaTrend magazine.

Wright was born in a Roman Catholic orphanage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was adopted at 9 months of age. After graduating high school, he served five years in the U.S. Navy. While attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., he worked as a child advocate for two mayors. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), and he has been awarded honorary doctor of divinity degrees by VTS and Sewanee: The University of the South.

He is married to Beth-Sarah Wright, Ph.D., and they have a grown daughter and four school-age children.

General Seminary conferred its first honorary degree in 1885.