Celebrating the Holy Eucharist – Remembering the Paschal Mystery

Editor’s note. This document was recently found in an office cabinet. The document said it was presented Oct. 23, 1991 at LEM (Lay Eucharistic Ministry Training). This may have been Charles Sydnor’s copy.

Bill Pregnall (1931-2019) earned three degrees – B.A. (UNC-CH), M. Div. (Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA) and D. Min. (University of the South, Sewanee, TN) and also served in the navy for 3 years. He was awarded an honorary D.D. by the Virginia Theological Seminary (1987) and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (1990). He wrote Laity and liturgy: A handbook for parish worship in 1975.

In his ministerial career he served as Assistant Rector and then as Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Charleson WVA; Episcopal Chaplain at St. Albans, Louisiana State University in 1960, Baton Rouge LA in 1966; and St. Augustine’s Mission in 1970 in Washington.

In September 1973 he was called to the faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria VA, and became a tenured professor there in 1978. In addition to overseeing the annual placement and field education of over 100 students, he instituted Lay Committees for seminarians doing field work, taught pastoral subjects, and conducted the program of theological reflection seminars for all students.

In 1981 he became Dean and President of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley, CA. While at CDSP, he was Chairman of the nine Presidents of the Graduate Theological Union, which offered a doctoral degree to students from Catholic, Protestant, and non-Christian affiliations. He called several new faculty and additional staff, bought an additional building for student family housing, renovated other buildings and increased the endowment. He established a Dean of Students position which was filled by the first woman priest at CDSP. He traveled extensively promoting the only Episcopal seminary west of the Rocky Mountains . It became the third largest in his denomination while teaching in a uniquely rich ecumenical environment

In 1989 he moved back East, becoming Rector of St. Mary’s Parish, MD which included Trinity Church in St. Mary’s City MD and St. Mary’s Chapel in Ridge MD.

Lay people of the church and liturgy were the theological foci of his ministry. His doctoral thesis, “The Role of Lay People in Theological Field Education” became the model for the guidance and evaluation of seminarians throughout Episcopal seminaries. One of his two books, Laity and Liturgy, reflected a theology of liturgical renewal and gave guidance for the Episcopal Church affirming it was the whole laity gathered who celebrated the Sunday Eucharist.

In 1993 he retired and moved to the Fredericksburg VA area where he lived for thirteen years. Note this document was done before he came to St. George’s. He substituted at St. George’s in particular after Maureen Sydnor was taken ill in 2002.

The chancel re-design, part of the overall nave renovation began in November, 2002 with the creation of the Nave Renovation Taskforce under Pregnall. The chancel modification was part of the Committee’s focus on the practical and utilitarian.

In the midst of these obvious concrete goals, Pregnall presented a creative design for a new chancel that forced the committee to consider how the space was to be used. The new chancel would exist on different physical levels. It was to be raised to accommodate these levels. The most distinctive part was the center altar and was the part of the design that survived. The choir moved to the gallery and pulpit and lectern brought back towards the altar.

Bill left St. George’s in 2006 for retirement home in Irvington.

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