Turning down the Dean’s Cross

Date: May 20, 2024

One of the nicest rejection responses to the Dean’s Cross honor came from the manager of Liverpool Football Club (this is the world of soccer in the United Kingdom). After consultation with the Board Chair, we were eager to honor a person in a predominantly secular world who lives out his faith. Liverpool is a global brand in the soccer world – followed by millions of people around the world. Jürgen Klopp is a much loved manager who on Saturday concluded his tenure as the manager of Liverpool.

The approach was made to his office in November 2020 with the help of the Rev. Dr. Shannon Ledbetter (an alum of VTS). Ms. Danielle McNally replied on Mr. Klopp’s behalf and explained: “While Jurgen is very honoured to be selected for the Dean’s Cross, he doesn’t feel he should be rewarded for his faith that comes naturally to him. He really hopes they can understand his reason. He asked me to please pass on his biggest thanks and best wishes to them.”

As I watched on Saturday Anfield celebrate his very successful tenure as manager, I was reminded afresh of this email exchange.  He wears his love for his job, the team, and the city of Liverpool on his sleeve; and this love comes out of his passionate love for the Lord Jesus Christ, which he holds with appropriate humility. We wish Jürgen Klopp all the best for him and his family in the future.

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary and the President of The General Theological Seminary

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