Date: July 2, 2022
Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) mourns on this day the passing of the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, who died in the early hours on Saturday, July 2. Bishop Lee had an extraordinary career. A newspaper reporter and a military intelligence officer, he felt the call of God to holy orders and graduated from VTS in 1967. His ministry took him to Jacksonville, Florida, St. John’s Episcopal Church Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., and Chapel of the Cross, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Elected Coadjutor in 1984, he became the Diocesan Bishop of Virginia in 1985. During his long tenure through to 2009, he was chair of the Board of Trustees of Virginia Theological Seminary for sixteen years.
Theologically, Bishop Lee was a moderate. He worked hard to keep conservatives at the table. His priority was evangelization. And he used the note and the phone call very effectively as he ran his vast and complex diocese. During his tenure as Bishop, the number of Episcopalians in his diocese grew from 80,000 to 90,000.
He had a remarkable retirement. Service took him to the world’s greatest cities – San Francisco, New York, and Paris. His wisdom and experience were much appreciated.
With his wife Kristy Lee, he has two children and five grandchildren. On a personal level, he was the Chair of the Board of VTS who appointed me as dean and president of the Seminary; he was also my Bishop who ordained me a priest. As issues arose, I appreciated his ready availability, his thoughtful critique, and his often funny aside. He was a man of deep faith and graciousness. The world this morning feels a little more empty without the vital presence of Bishop Peter James Lee.
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Peter. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints of light. Amen.
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President