Episcopal Foundation of Texas Awards Virginia Theological Seminary A Million-Dollar Gift

 VTS will name renovated refectory in memory of Texas donor and parishioner

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Doyle and Ian Markham, dean and president of the Virginia Theological Seminary, tour the new H.H. “Pete” Coffield Refectory

To solidify the 140-year partnership between the Diocese of Texas and the Virginia Theological Seminary, the Episcopal Foundation of Texas awarded the Seminary a $1 million-dollar gift which will help fund the renovation of their refectory—providing a contemporary and hospitable space for dining and social interaction for staff and students.

The refectory was named in honor of H.H. “Pete” Coffield, who died in 1979, and left one-third of his estate to the Diocese of Texas. This helped fund the Episcopal Foundation of Texas as well as other foundations. The renovated refectory opened February 2, 2020.

“The Seminary is excited to preserve the legacy of H.H. “Pete” Coffield, a parishioner of St. Thomas, Rockdale, Texas, whose life’s work has enriched so many people,” said Ian Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary. “By honoring his memory with the naming of one of the most important and cherished buildings on campus, VTS deepens our commitment with the Diocese of Texas and honors lay ministry.”

Since 1879, hundreds of students from the diocese have graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary. Currently over 110 alumni are serving in the Diocese of Texas.

“The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has benefited from strong clergy leadership from Virginia Seminary since its founding, yet we have never made a gift beyond our annual fund support. It is with great pleasure that just as Texas’ future has been blessed by Virginia Seminary’s formation today, we can give back and join with others to help ensure quality facilities well into the future,” said the Rt. Rev. Andy Doyle, bishop of Texas.

Built in 1950, the refectory is one of the cornerstones for the VTS ethos of “Chapel, Class, and Lunch.” According to Markham, conversing while eating is the beginning of a table fellowship and is as important as residential formation, academics, and worship.

“Lunch matters because this is the place of table fellowship, where deep friendships are formed, and lives are shaped by the agency of the Holy Spirit through community,” added Markham.

The space hosted VTS’s public phase of the Capital Campaign Kick-off event on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.

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