Tony Briggle Given Honorary Degree
The incomparable and much beloved Tony Briggle, longtime servant, evangelist, acolyte extraordinaire and leader in the Church, was named an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Virginia Theological Seminary this year for his lifetime of personal sacrifice and contributions.
Briggle is well known in local, national and global Episcopal and Anglican circles. He has served at all levels of church dynamics at Saint Michael and All Angels, the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, General Convention and the Anglican Centre in Rome.
He has served for 50 years at Saint Michael’s as acolyte master, led planning for the diocesan convention for many years and was inducted into the Order of Garrett by the Rt. Rev. George Sumner, for his outstanding volunteer efforts for the diocese.
The Virginia Theological Seminary noted that Briggle was a pastoral figure as he led the Acolyte Corps at his home church for five decades. After his Cursillo experience in 1974, Briggle felt called to serve in many ways including teaching Sunday school and confirmation classes, and eventually heading the acolyte corps where he has mentored thousands of young people and adults. He has shepherded them through the highs and lows of life and has become a godparent to many, vastly impacting their lives.
He is also a leader on the national and world stage and currently serves on the board of the Anglican Centre in Rome and often hosts the Anglican Primates at General Convention.
During the ceremony at the Virginia Theological Seminary this was said about Briggle: “Although your leadership locally, nationally, and internationally has been exceptional, your true gift to the Church has been your love. You live the life of a true disciple of Jesus – open hearted, generous, and with an uncompromising work ethic. There are certainly many ways to honor a true servant leader, and even with today’s recognition the celebration of your work will never be complete in this life. For your inspiring ministry and incredible legacy, Virginia Theological Seminary is proud to convey upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.”
Briggle said it was humbling and an honor to be recognized in such a way and even said, “there were bishops being honored, I don’t even know how I got in.” There were only six people who received the honorary degree and they all had heady accomplishments which were noted in their acceptance speeches. One woman said it was her 13th honorary degree. “I said to myself before it was my turn, ‘there is only one thing you can do, and that is lighten this up,” he said.
“I told them,” ‘I’m very grateful for the honor, touched and humbled to be in a very distinguished group of people who have served God well. However, I’m going to tell you a story about Elizabeth Taylor.’”
He went on to tell them a hilarious but true anecdote about the time he was a young executive at Neiman Marcus and his boss, Stanley Marcus, asked him to oversee a photo shoot of the actress at her home with Richard Burton in Puerto Vallarta wearing the world’s most expensive fur coat.
“It was supposed to be a weekend, but it took two weeks because they were drunk all the time,” Briggle said. “Stanley Marcus called me and said ‘Tony what is going on down there? You have been there for a week and half, you need to get it done.’” I said ‘Mr. Marcus call my wife Evelyn and ask her how she likes being home alone with our two little girls while I’m in Puerta Vallarta with Elizabeth Taylor.’”
The story continues with nips of vodka, a fall off a rock onto the sandy beach in the world’s most expensive mink, and being chased by the paparazzi all of which is revealed in more detail here.
It was a great night for Briggle to be honored for his many years of service to the Lord all of which got started when he was a youngster and his Presbyterian grandmother took him to church every Sunday. However, when he was a young teen a friend invited him to church at Saint Michael and All Angels where he met some cute girls his age, one of which he eventually married. He also liked the Episcopal service because the liturgy “rang a bell in his head” and was more to his liking, even as a teen. However, he didn’t want to disappoint his Presbyterian grandmother, but she let him off the hook by saying, “Tony as long as you are going to church it doesn’t matter where.”