The Vancouver School of Theology (VST), an ecumenical theological institution in British Columbia with over 100 years of history, is no longer in a state of financial exigency, its board of governors has announced.
“Excellent fiscal and administrative management, reduction in expenditures, revised investment policy and an increase in donor contributions” made it possible to lift the measure, the board said in a press statement issued Jan. 20.Financial exigency is declared during a time of financial stress and involves taking “extraordinary action to reduce expenditures and preserve resources,” according to the Association of Theological Schools, which accredits more than 270 graduate schools in Canada and the U.S. It is not equivalent to bankruptcy or insolvency.
On Jan. 4, 2012, the VST board declared a state of financial exigency, saying it needed to take “the difficult steps that will restore the financial health of the school so it can continue its task of educating leaders for the church and world.”
It noted that while steps were taken over the years to improve its financial situation, a number of factors contributed to the decline in resources. These included the financial crisis in 2008-2009, the loss of funding from the United Church of Canada in 2011 and the decrease in funding from the Anglican Church of Canada.
Stephen Farris, acting principal, described the new development as “good news,” but said VST needs to “continue to practice restraint and solid budgetary oversight” in order to stay the course. “This does not mean that the purse strings will dramatically loosen in the foreseeable future,” he said.
During the period of financial exigency, VST underwent “further staff reductions, institutional restructuring and new forms of partnership,” said a 2012 press statement . It also initiated fundraising for four key programs: the David Somerville chair in Spirituality and Social Action (Anglican), the chair in Pastoral and Public Leadership (United Church), the chair in Indigenous Studies, and the Iona Pacific Chair in Inter-Religious Studies.