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Funding found for King’s chaplain

King's Chapel. Photo by Angela Gzowski
The King's Chapel. Photo by Angela Gzowski

Discovering the funding to save the chaplaincy at the University of King’s College turned out not to be a matter of “seek, and ye shall find.” Instead “knights came in on horses and saved the day,” says King’s professor Neil Robertson.

The “knights” are donors from the community who have ensured that those who rely on the guidance of Reverend Gary Thorne, the chaplain at King’s, have a lot to be thankful for this week and for the next five years.

University president Anne Leavitt and the Anglican Diocesan Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have signed an agreement that guarantees five-year funding for Thorne’s full-time salary. The Diocese will pay half the salary, while local donors have pledged to cover the remainder. Leavitt says the donors have requested that their names not be published.

“I was delighted that everything came together the way it did,” says Leavitt. “I believe that Father Thorne brings some wonderful gifts to students by way of counselling and spiritual guidance.”

In the fall, King’s was confronted with the possibility of losing 50 per cent of the funding for the chaplain’s salary.  A committee, which included Robertson, was formed by the Board of Governors to look at the university’s internal budget to see whether budget cuts elsewhere could come up with the money the Diocese would no longer be providing.

Robertson says the committee’s mandate was to maintain the chaplaincy for the benefit of the university community, but also to respect the funding challenges facing the Diocese. He says the issue of external funding is relevant to other university chapels, many of which are also affected by budget constraints. Although the initial plan was to find internal funding, Robertson says the job was made considerably easier because people stepped forward on their own.

“We didn’t go on a fundraising campaign, the campaign came to us,” he says.

Many members of the King’s community see the chaplaincy as an integral part of King’s. In an interview with the *Gazette* in October 2011, Thorne confirmed that his job is about more than the chapel. For example, a major magnet bringing students into chapel life is the King’s choir, currently under the direction of Paul Halley.

“I think what Gary Thorne and Paul Halley together are doing in the Chapel is an amazing benefit to the King’s students in terms of giving them access to a rich and vibrant aspect of religious life,” Robertson says.

Robertson also says the connection between the identity of King’s and the Chapel is something he personally values. Leavitt echoes this sentiment, saying she is extremely happy with the outcome of the complicated situation.

“King’s is an interesting place because it attends to its origins and traditions,” she says, “and in a way that’s in keeping with its curriculum, which pays an awful lot of attention to old books. I think chapel life at King’s has always represented an invitation to spiritual life.”

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