Martha J. Horne


Martha J. Horne

Priest, President and Dean, Colleague, and Mentor, your leadership routinely reflects fundamental Christian virtues. Modest luminary and humble hero, you have exercised steady, faithful leadership in theological education during challenging times to build up the church and strengthen the witness of the Gospel.

A native of North Carolina, you did your undergraduate work in Religion and Psychology at Duke University. Later after a sojourn in Texas with your husband, Don, and two young boys, you began your studies at Virginia Seminary. Ordained priest in 1984, and serving parishes in the Diocese of Virginia, you returned to Virginia Seminary and led within that community as teacher, Assistant to the Dean, Associate Dean, and then as Dean and President for thirteen years. You developed a strong collaborative faculty of scholars and pastors and positively changed the culture of the institution while honoring its heritage and history.  You steered and guided that seminary through a complex time of transition by creating space for conversation, offering patience, and believing that people of good will can live faithfully in disagreement. A former member of that faculty remembers, "She really listened. She trusted the faculty. She expected the best from us." A courageous and patient shepherd, you contributed to the strength and position of Virginia Seminary.

Your hospitality of spirit is reflected in your ministry as host for visitor, guests, strangers, and new friends.

Skilled priest, pastor and preacher, you convene celebrations of success and accomplishment and accompany a community through loss and grief.

You have gathered and focused your life experience and practical wisdom to be a mentor on a corporate and individual scope. You offer your thoughtful, gracious, judicious leadership to the Association of Theological Schools, Auburn Theological Seminary's Center for Theological Education, the Board of the Church Pension Fund, Kanuga Conference Center and many others. As Dean of the Seminar for New Presidents, member of the Credo faculty, participant on visiting teams, and consultant to searches you connect people and institutions so they can mutually thrive. You are an esteemed mentor and counselor in perplexity for students, senior peers, deans and presidents throughout the Church and beyond.  In those relationships you are honest, unsentimental encouraging, and hopeful. You seek to help those you advise to align their gifts and joy with their vocation from God. In your own person, you embody one who is visibly, obviously, self-evidently, and gracefully called to the work that you do.

It is with great affection and honor that we welcome you back here to campus. Your address to Seminary of the Southwest's Trustees and Faculty in 2008 provoked significant conversations about the metaphors, symbols, images and stories that make us who we are. In gratitude for your many gifts and for your friendship, we are pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.

May 8, 2012                                                                                                                          Austin, Texas