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Students, faculty, BOG work at determining the chapel’s direction

The King’s Chapel review is off to a magnanimous start as faculty, students, and board members are finding agreement on the direction the chapel should take in the years to come. (Jan. 27, 2013)

The King’s Chapel review is off to a magnanimous start as faculty, students, and board members are finding agreement on the direction the chapel should take in the years to come.
“It’s going unbelievably well,” said Karis Tees, the student representative on the five-member Presidential Advisory Committee. “I feel like my voice is being heard. Sometimes I don’t even need to speak because I feel like it’s already being said.”
The committee, tasked with cleaning up the administrative relationship between the chapel and the college, is due to report its recommendations to university President George Cooper by the end of February.
Tees joins chair Mary Martin, Chaplain Gary Thorne, chapel warden Liz Currie, and faculty representative Neil Robertson in drafting non-binding recommendations as part of a wider strategic review of the university.
So far, the process has been amicable and productive.
“We’ve had two meetings and we’ve had very, very good progress,” said Thorne, who also sits on the committee. “I would’ve thought it was a very tight and ambitious timeline, but it might be just what we need.”
Robertson shared his sentiment.
“Things have gone extremely well as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “[The committee] is trying to make everything work productively and not have the gears grind against each other, as has happened a little bit in the past.”
Robertson’s words may bring to mind the controversy last year surrounding the position of the chaplain. In a letter suggesting chapel services were “antiquated” and “male-dominated”, Bishop Sue Moxley of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island cut diocesan funding for Thorne’s salary at the Dalhousie Multifaith Centre by half.
“This model of chaplaincy is no longer appropriate,” she wrote.
The subsequent outpouring of support from the King’s and chapel community motivated the university to reach an agreement with the diocese to ensure the survival of the position.
The settlement reached, which secured the chaplain’s salary by way of a donation from the college, will last for at least five years, but there remains some uncertainty over the future of the position beyond this mandate.
Though the committee is tasked with clearing up bureaucratic complications over funding chapel operations, Thorne’s salary is off the table.
“We do need to engage in that task,” said Robertson, “but that’s not what this committee has been tasked with… We have a five-year window to try and ensure that we have a stable basis for the chaplain going into the future.”
All members of the committee interviewed for this article shared the opinion that the chapel and its operations remained vital to the King’s community.
“[The chapel and its programs] add a zest, and a spirit, a camaraderie, an esprit-de-corps, a morale, to the whole community,” said Thorne.
“I’m very attached to what the chapel is about,” Robertson said. “[I] think of it a very good and integral part of the college.”

Date submitted: Jan. 27, 2013

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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