Dean’s Cross awarded to two recipients

Date: December 13, 2021


Media Contact: Curtis Prather
Tel: (703) 461-1782

ALEXANDRIA, VA – During a special service of Advent Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 12, the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), and Amy L. Curtis, secretary and treasurer of the Board of Trustees at VTS, conferred the Dean’s Cross for Servant Leadership in Church and Society Award to the Rev. Katharine E. Babson, D.Min. ’92 and (posthumously) to Kerstin McDaniel.

The Dean’s Cross award, established in 2008, 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’s dean in consultation with the chair of the Board, the honorees receive a certificate and a handmade silver cross, modeled after the cross that stood on the steeple of the 1881 Chapel and now installed on the eastern wall of Immanuel Chapel.

“The Dean’s Cross for 2021 honors a remarkable artist and a remarkable missionary,” said Markham. “Both honorees gave their lives to create opportunities for others to grow in the understanding of the Christian faith. It is sad that Kerstin McDaniel had to receive her award posthumously but were pleased to connect with her family.”

The Rev. Katharine E. “Kitty” Babson, D.Min. ’92 is a strong proponent of intercultural, interfaith, and international exchange among people of difference, Babson has served on the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on World Mission and chaired its Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission, a consortium of Episcopal Church agencies working in various capacities all over the world: for example, in Myanmar she introduced Episcopal Relief and Development to its ongoing work in Myanmar’s six dioceses.

Kerstin McDaniel, born in Boras, Sweden, her introduction to the United States was as an exchange student with the American Field Service in North Hollywood, California in 1954. Always creative, her roots in needlework blended with her training in painting and study of art history and Christian symbolism, her career gradually shifted to a specialty of liturgical textiles. Over the final 30 years of her career, McDaniel was commissioned to design and create processional banners, kneelers, and vestments for hundreds of churches across the United States of America. She was particularly proud to be commissioned to create altar hangings and banners for Immanuel Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary. Her largest body of liturgical work can be found at the Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore, NC, where she worshipped for over 50 years.

Past recipients of the Dean’s Cross for Servant Leadership in Church and Society include Barbara Bush, Wendell Berry, Madeleine Albright, Alfred R. Berkeley III, Muriel Van Dusen Berkeley, Phoebe Griswold, Charles F. Bolden Jr., the Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish ’83, and Lonnie Hamilton III.


Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author, and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online:

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