Vancouver School of Theology Building

Enthusiasm for What Lies Ahead

By Amy Kardash

On a lovely sunny Sunday evening in early November, I had the opportunity to visit the Vancouver School of Theology, a member of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools.

Visiting the campuses of the In Trust Center’s members bolsters my understanding of their contexts and cultures, their challenges and opportunities. So, while planning for a conference that I was to attend in Vancouver, I had reached out to Principal Richard Topping, suggesting that we connect while I was in town. Given the conference schedule, our only opportunity was Sunday evening.
Dr. Topping graciously invited me, along with my colleague, Jay Blossom (publisher of In Trust magazine), to visit, take a tour of campus, and enjoy a lovely dinner near campus.

Right away I noticed the integration of VST within the footprint of the University of British Columbia and its proximity to other theological schools, including St. Andrew’s Hall, Carey Theological Seminary, St. Mark’s College, and Regent College. Such rich space to fulfill the mission! And this certainly aligns with VST’s vision and goals of cultivating relationships and partnerships.

During our guided tour, Principal Topping told us about the history of VST, including the school’s transition from the former space now occupied by UBC’s School of Economics. We looked out from a gorgeous patio overlooking the quad where, during our visit, a family played on the playground, students walked, and campus life was alive. We enjoyed seeing almost every room of the new, functional building that is more suitable, and more cost-effective, than its old home.

What struck me upon entering the building was the delicious aroma of fresh-baked cookies – a first-floor bakery provides not only a service for students and staff, but a revenue stream for the seminary. What I noticed next was the flexible nature of the space, which was designed to be configured and reconfigured as needed to accommodate the changing needs of students and the institution. Our discussion made it clear that board governance and institutional leadership at VST are strong. This strength has undergirded both the critical decisions and the resulting changes that have taken place in the last few years — changes that have resulted in new opportunities.

Principal Topping’s enthusiasm for what lies ahead was contagious. I found our time together was rich and informative. We are grateful for the generosity and hospitality we experienced during our visit and were delighted to share VST’s new partnership with Durham University in the 2019 new year issue of In Trust magazine.

Amy Kardash has served as the president of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools since 2017, serving as director of programs for eight years prior. She oversees and directs all the In Trust Center’s work in resourcing over 230 seminaries, theological schools, and affiliate organizations. The mission of the In Trust Center is to strengthen theological schools by connecting their leaders to essential resources for mission vitality.