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Honorary doctorate to be awarded to the Reverend Virginia Aebischer


Lenoir-Rhyne University is pleased to announce that an honorary doctorate will be granted to the Rev. Virginia “Ginny” S. Aebischer, M.Div. ’89, at the May 9, 2024, Columbia Graduate Commencement Ceremony in Columbia, South Carolina.

Honorary doctorate degrees are awarded to persons who have distinguished themselves for scholarship or literary achievement, won professional or other distinction, or rendered conspicuous service in a particular field.

“As the first woman to be elected bishop in the South Carolina Synod, Ginny has had a distinguished career of service, leadership and outreach,” said Fred Whitt, Ed.D., university president. “Her commitment to serving others, contributions to the church and service to the synod is immeasurable, so it is an honor to recognize her with an honorary doctor of divinity.”

The Rev. Virginia S. Aebischer, M.Div. ’89, currently serves as Bishop of the South Carolina Synod and has held the position since elected on July 25, 2020. She previously served as assistant to the bishop from 2008-2020 where her primary responsibilities related to leadership and outreach ministries. She also served on the synod finance committee, assisted the bishop with call process and served as assembly manager.

Ordained on September 17, 1989, Aebischer served as the pastor for the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Charleston, South Carolina from September 1989 until August 2001 and as pastor for Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church in West Columbia, South Carolina from August 2001 until October 2008. During her seminary years she was involved in several different congregations and arms of the church as part of her seminary training and as an employee. She worked at Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church, West Columbia, as the youth director; did clinical pastoral education at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas; served her internship at The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer; served as a pastoral assistant at First Lutheran Church in Gladstone, Michigan; and served as a pastoral assistant at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Columbia, South Carolina. Prior to entering the seminary, she served the southeastern synod ELCA as a youth staffer.

Aebischer received a Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in 1989 and her B.A. from Upsala College in 1983. She is married to the Rev. Paul Aebischer, pastor at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Columbia, South Carolina and is the proud mother of Joshua and Addie who live and work in Columbia, and Micah & Reid who live and work in Greenville.

For those wishing to attend the Columbia Graduate Commencement Ceremony at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, visit for details.

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ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone 803-765-0590
Fax 803-252-5558

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