Virginia Theological Seminary appoints the Rev. Joseph Thompson as Seminary Librarian

Virginia Theological Seminary
Posted Mar 19, 2024

Dr. Thompson, the new Seminary Librarian at VTS.

Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) is excited to announce the appointment of the Rev. Joseph Thompson, Ph.D., as Seminary Librarian.

Dr Thompson is currently Associate Dean of Multicultural Ministries at VTS. In this role, he has supported more than 700 seminarians, staff, and faculty in augmenting their capacity to be interculturally competent and antiracist through his leadership of the annual Introduction to Intercultural Competency course, as well as working to create an environment in which members of underrepresented communities can thrive. Additionally, he served as the primary architect and lead administrator of the VTS Reparations Program, which currently makes annual payments to approximately 100 descendants of African Americans who worked at the Seminary during segregation, with more than 300 descendants participating in other aspects of the program.

Dr. Thompson has 12 years of professional experience in research libraries. He worked as an archivist for the African American Episcopal Historical Collection at VTS, and previously served as the director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American Documentation at Duke University Libraries, and senior lecturer in English and African American Studies and educational archivist for the Film and Media Archive at Washington University in St. Louis. He holds Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Philosophy, and Master of Arts degrees in African American Studies and English from Yale University, as well as a Master of Arts degree from VTS.

Dr. Budde, outgoing Head Librarian at VTS.

Dr. Thompson’s appointment comes after Mitzi Budde, D.Min., Head Librarian and Arthur Carl Lichtenberger Chair in Theological Research at VTS, announced plans to retire after 33 years at the Seminary. During this time, Dr. Budde has shepherded the Bishop Payne Library into the digital age, curating an integrated collection of 210,000 print books, 470,000 ebooks, and 40 digital databases with more than 44,000 annual uses, as well as overseeing the $12 million library building renovation project. In addition, she negotiated the acquisition of four rare book collections in church music and liturgy, and instituted a comprehensive institutional archives program, including the 2003 launch of the African American Episcopal Historical Collection.

Dr. Budde currently serves on the Board of Commissioners for the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and was a member of the association’s Redevelopment of the Standards Task Force, as well as being an ATS evaluation visitor for more than 30 accreditation visits to other seminaries. She has also published several books and articles in the areas of mass incarceration and multi-denominational congregations, and taught courses in ecumenism and theological research. The Washington Theological Consortium honored her with its Figel Ecumenism Award in 2019.

Dr. Budde will step down from the day-to-day management of the library at the end of July 2024 to take a deferred sabbatical from August to the end of December, when she will retire.

 The Bishop Payne Library at VTS.

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., Dean and President of VTS, said: “Dr. Thompson has a passion for the ministry of theological librarianship. We look forward to him stepping into his new role at VTS this summer and building on the remarkable work of Dr. Budde. Thanks to the thoughtful work of Dr. Budde and the exceptional team of dedicated library staff, we now have a premier regional theological library that is on a par with the best theological libraries in the country. They have provided an unparalleled service of excellence to students, staff, faculty, visiting scholars, and alums. Dr. Budde has had a remarkable tenure at VTS, and we are grateful for her dedicated and gifted leadership.”

Dr. Thompson said: “It is an honor to assume this vital role in the seminary community.  I do not believe there has been a moment in my lifetime in which our ability to appreciate the experiences and the legacies of prior generations has been more essential. Working with the excellent staff members of the Bishop Payne Library, I will relish the chance to empower the VTS community in accessing the richness of our shared human heritage, a vital element in promoting an institutional culture that forms leaders who seek and serve Christ in all people.”

Dr. Budde said: “As Head Librarian, it has been a joy to kindle in our students a love for the research resources that will feed a lifetime of preaching and teaching and to provision our extraordinary faculty for their research and teaching. Embodying this ecumenical call under the full communion agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church has been a gift of grace, and I trust that this partnership in the gospel will continue to deepen and thrive at VTS and throughout both of our churches, by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Notes to editors:

For media enquiries, please contact Nicky Burridge, Vice President for Communications at VTS.
Tel: (703) 461-1782

Mobile: (703) 300-2876

About Virginia Theological Seminary:

Virginia Theological Seminary was founded in 1823 and has a long tradition of shaping faithful women and men, lay and ordained, for leadership in The Episcopal Church and beyond. It is the strongest seminary in the Anglican Communion and provides more than 25 percent of the clergy of The Episcopal Church. The Seminary’s mission and work is supported by total assets of $739 million.