Monday, December 07, 2009

#savesotonchaplaincy - Linked In joy

I posted the following on the Uni of Southampton Alumni Linked In group

Southampton Students and Alumni are working hard to raise money and find funding for the Chaplaincy at the University of Southampton after the CofE withdrew funding. Read more at ??

I got this response from one member of the group:

Dear Alex et al

I have very strong memories of the strong link I had with David Simpson who was Chaplain when I was at University, and I would support the campaign if your campaign was more informative.

I find it impossible to believe that the Reverend David Stevens will be made redundant and homeless. The almost inevitable solution is that he will be given a different placement, where his wellbeing will be looked after by the Synod.

How true is it that every other University has an Anglican Chaplain? However consider that ultimately it is not the University which is Anglican.

In your article, you state that links and relationships will be severed. Why does not having a chaplain sever these, and whom are they with? The University has a strong relationship with the Parish of St Michael's in the City Centre which will not deteriorate with the lack of a chaplain.

There is no explanation behind the Synod's decision. Why did they make the decision? What is their rationale? I find it hard to believe they have simply cut the post without doing any research on the matter, and without explaining the reason.

What is the exact relationship between the University and the Diocese of Winchester, and how has or will the University respond to this decision?

Does the Diocese or the University own the chaplaincy? From memory, it is owned by the University and they are unlikely to remove the space if it is being used by other chaplains and indeed by student societies.

I realise that you obviously feel strongly about the need for a chaplain, as do I, but I feel that there is a lot more to the issue that you are either ignoring or unaware of. If you can update your campaign appropriately then I will consider supporting, providing there is a clear explanation of the problem and the solution.


Matthew Reeve
Computer Science 2003

Here is my reply:

Hi Matthew,

Thank you for your comments. Here are my replies:

1. The budget was passed on 28th Nov, removing the funding for Rev.Steven's post. He will be made redundant if no alternative funding has been found. He was told to start looking for another job, but as far as I am aware, has recieved no advice on placements that might be suitable by the diocese.

He will be allowed to continue to live in the house until he decides to leave or the post of Anglican Chaplain is made redundant.

2. Every University has access to an Anglican Chaplain. Not all universities have the luxury of a full time Chaplain, and some like Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan share a Chaplain. This is one idea proposed for Southampton, that the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University could share a Chaplain

3.The relationship with St. Michaels in the city centre is mainly founded around the University choirs and the music department. They do not offer pastoral support for students on campus, or offer to help with Wednesday communion services, carol services or when students are going through personal crisis in the middle of the night.

4. The synod voted to cut the post because of a ??1.6 million deficit caused by parishes in the diocese not being able to or refusing to pay their Parish Share upon which the diocesan budget is funded. Sector Ministry, of which Chaplaincy is a part was cut because it is easier to cut than removing parish priests who have cure of souls. A lot of administrative posts in the diocese are being cut or merged as well for much the same reason.

5. The University of Southampton has traditionally refused to fund a Chaplain or Chaplaincy at the University since it's earliest days as an institution. This is why the Rev. Stevens is known officially as the Chaplain TO the University of Southampton rather than the Chaplain OF the University of Southampton. The University is being approached to help fund the Chaplaincy by both students and the diocese.

6. The University owns the Chaplaincy, and the Ecumenical Chaplaincy rents the building from the University. Without the funding from the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and the Free Church Chaplaincy Council will not be able to meet the rent and the running costs of the building, the community and their staff.

The University has tried to raise the rent in recent years, has move the Chaplaincy from University Crescent to University Road so they could build on the land, and requisitioned the Chaplaincy Garden to build a Car Park.

Since the Rev. Stevens and the Chaplains started working at the Chaplaincy in 2005 an active community of students have been using the Chaplaincy alongside the regular society user groups. This welcoming and inclusive community has been recognised by the Student Support services as a safe space on campus, referring users of the mentoring, counseling and disability services to pop in for a cup of tea.

The week the diocesan synod voted, the Chaplain could be found in Chaplaincy at 12am talking to a student who had wondered into the SUSU distressed. The security guards of this secular institution found the chaplain having seen in him the Stag's Head and asked him to help this student.

That is why this service is important, needs to be on campus, not based out of a local church and needs to be full time.

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