J. Neil Alexander '76
Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

A Higher Calling

A music major at Moravian, the Right Reverend J. Neil Alexander ’76, who was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta in 2001, credits the wholeness of his Moravian education with giving him the tools to succeed.

“I have always been grateful for the comprehensiveness of my undergraduate education,” says Alexander, who earned a master of divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, master of music degree from University of South Carolina, and doctor of theology degree from The General Theological Seminary. “Not only did Moravian prepare me for graduate study in music, but when I branched out into new fields, the breadth and preparation of my undergraduate education put me in good stead among my fellow grad students.”

Today, Alexander wears many hats as bishop, overseeing the mission and ministry of 96 parishes, four parochial schools, a camp and conference center, and a variety of social service ministries for the poor, homeless, and marginalized. He learned more than just music at Moravian, taking valuable lessons from professors in many disciplines.

“Dick and Monica Schantz, professors emeriti of music, taught me that music and the arts make us human,” he says. “Bob Burcaw, professor emeritus of English, modeled for me what it means to be a teacher. The late chaplain Bob Woosley taught me important lessons about the cost of personal integrity. Dennis Glew, professor emeritus of history, taught me how to be a historian, and that the truth is almost surely in the details.”

Alexander also appreciated Moravian’s strong but unobtrusive connection to the Moravian Church. “It was important to me that the presence of the church was clear and unapologetic at Moravian,” he says. “The College’s church affiliation was important, but it was never crammed down your throat – it grounded the institutional culture without getting in the way of academic freedom and unfettered inquiry.”

7/5/11

J. Neil Alexander

"The breadth and preparation of my undergraduate education put me in good stead among my fellow grad students."