V. Bruce Rigdon, 1962 B.D., 1963 M.A., 1968 Ph.D.

2008Distinction in Theological Education

V. Bruce Rigdon—pastor, theological educator, ecumenical leader and social activist—has had a wide-ranging influence on people and institutions around the globe over a career spanning half a century.

He was president of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, MI from 1997 to 2006 and pastor of the Grosse Pointe Memorial Church (PCUSA) in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI from 1988 through 2002.  Prior to that, he taught for two decades at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, where he was professor of church history from 1974 to 1988.  Though now retired, he continues to teach occasionally at ETS, McCormick, and Columbia Theological Seminary.

At ETS, Rigdon stabilized the finances of the institution and led a successful bid for full accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools. From its urban setting, ETS represents an innovative experiment in theological education, with an emphasis on interfaith dialogue, integration of theology with practice, and nurturing faith alongside social responsibility.  At McCormick, he provided leadership for framing the seminary's doctor of ministry program and was active in transformation of the school's curricula.  He was an innovator in the globalization of theological education and led seminars to the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, Rigdon maintained ties with the Russian Orthodox Church and earned a reputation as one of the world's leading experts on Reformed-Orthodox relations.  He was also instrumental in public acts of solidarity with churches in the Middle East and is currently president of the board of Pilgrims of Ibillin, an organization that supports and interprets the significance of institutions established in the Galilee by Archbishop Elias Chacour to educate together Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Druze young people.

Rigdon has been involved with the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the World Student Christian Federation as well as local initiatives.   He is also the founder of the Grosse Pointe Lay Theological Academy. Currently he is the minister of Siasconset Union Chapel, a summer ecumenical congregation on Nantucket Island.

Rigdon earned a B.A. in 1958 from the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH.  At YDS, he was a Dwight Fellow and recipient of the Julia A. Archibald High Scholarship Prize, awarded annually to the member of the graduating class ranking highest in scholarship.

He and his wife, Mary, have three children and six grandchildren.