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Vancouver School of Theology

Vancouver School of Theology
VST photo
Established 1971
Type Private
Principal Richard R. Topping
Dean Pat Dutcher-Walls
Students approx. 200
Location University Endowment Lands, British Columbia, Canada
Campus University of British Columbia
Colours Burgundy     & white     
Affiliations ATS

Vancouver School of Theology, located on the campus of the University of British Columbia, is a multi-denominational graduate school known for its theological innovations while being rooted in Christian traditions. Accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, and affiliated with UBC, VST is profoundly committed to compassionate interaction, spiritual exploration, and intellectual rigour, and its long-standing partnerships with First Nations. VST is a small, close-knit, inclusive and diverse community; the students come from all parts of the world, and its graduates are employed internationally.


  • Faculty 1
  • History 2
  • Iona Pacific Inter-Religious Centre 3
  • Indigenous Studies Centre 4
  • Degrees Awarded 5
  • Theology Building converted to Economics 6
  • Gallery 7
  • History 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Rabbi Dr. Robert Daum, Director of Iona Pacific and Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Jewish Thought

The Rev. Dr. Patricia Dutcher-Walls, Dean of Studies and Professor of Hebrew Bible

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Farris, Professor of Homiletics and Dean of St. Andrew’s Hall

Brenda Fawkes, Director, Field Education

The Rev. Janet Gear, Assistant Professor of Public and Pastoral Leadership and Director of Denominational Formation (United Church of Canada)

Rev. Dr. Hans Kouwenberg, Director, Presbyterian Formation

Dr. Harry O. Maier, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies

Dr. Sallie McFague, Distinguished Theologian in Residence

The Rev’d. Canon Dr. Harold Munn, Anglican Mentor in Residence

The Rev. Dr. Paula Sampson, Director of Native Ministries and Assistant Professor of Ethics and First Nation Studies

The Rev. Dr. Richard Topping, St. Andrew’s Hall Professor of Studies in the Reformed Tradition and Principal


Vancouver School of Theology was established in 1971, as an amalgamation of the Anglican Theological College (ATC) and Union College of British Columbia (UCBC), affiliated with the United Church of Canada. The two colleges had existed side-by-side for a number of years prior to the amalgamation.

ATC was formed in 1920 as a merger of two Anglican seminaries. The evangelical Latimer Hall was founded in 1910, while the more liberal and high church St Mark's Hall followed two years later at a nearby location. The merged ATC moved into the Chancellor Building at UBC in 1927.[1]

Westminster Hall (formerly Presbyterian) was the first formal theological college in Vancouver, and classes started in 1908, first at McGill University Vancouver (1907–1915) Campus, then in their own building at 1600 Barclay Street from the fall of 1908 until 1927, when the first part of UCBC (west wing of the Iona Building at UBC) was ready for use. Ryerson College formerly Methodist, and named after educator Egerton Ryerson, was meeting in Westminster Hall since classes began in 1923. It was an extension of the Columbian College started in New Westminster in 1892. There is little available data on the Congregational College of British Columbia, as according to the United Church of Canada's First General Council's Minutes, in 1925, the College was incorporated, but never held any classes.

The tower section of the Iona Building was completed during the 1930s.

From initial discussions with Anglican and the then separate Methodist and Presbyterian groups in 1922, there has been open discussion on joint studies, and was a reason Ryerson Hall never constructed a separate building. Throughout the 1960s, the two colleges cooperated in offering courses and access to materials, and discussions started regarding the creation of a new theological school to serve the area. The current-day Vancouver School of Theology was formed in 1971.The creation of VST occurred in a climate in which full communion between the Anglican Church of Canada and United Church was under serious consideration, although this union did not take place.

Saint Andrew's Hall, a residence established by the Presbyterian Church in Canada during the 1950s, officially became affiliated with the VST. The school has also been recognized by the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church, both of the United States, as a good training institution for their clergy.[2]

The Institute for stained glass in Canada has documented the stained glass at Vancouver School of Theology.[3]

Iona Pacific Inter-Religious Centre

Social ActionResearchContemplative Practice


Iona Pacific is the inter-religious and multi-cultural context for Vancouver School of Theology’s core work of preparing leaders for tomorrow’s world. The Centre researches and implements new ways of facing critical local and global challenges to the well-being of the next generation of our shared communities. It draws upon the world’s wisdom traditions in order to foster a common sense of purpose, respect for differences, and socially engaged learning with academic and lay leaders, elders and youth, from North America and beyond.


Iona Pacific addresses how religious traditions can illuminate and enhance productive responses to complex social problems of this era, such as trans-generational urban and rural poverty, climate change and environmental degradation, alienation and despair among youth. Iona Pacific partners with First Nations and other ethno-religious, cultural, and secular communities, leaders, scholars, and institutions keen to pursue inter-religious social action and research. Iona Pacific models dialogical, constructive, and innovative research, learning and social engagement.


• innovative research projects

• research-driven, social action partnerships

• visiting scholar programs

• inter-communal forums

• workshops, seminars, courses (including degree courses)

• curricular resources

• print and new media publications for the academy and beyond

Director, Rabbi Dr. Robert Daum

Rabbi Dr. Robert Daum is the Director of Iona Pacific: Inter-Religious Centre for Social Action, Research and Contemplative Practice. He is also the Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Jewish Thought. Dr. Daum holds a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, an MA in Hebrew Literature from Hebrew Union College, and a BA magna cum laude from Tufts University. Most recently the Diamond Chair in Jewish Law and Ethics in the Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies and has been a Faculty Associate in the UBC Centre of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Daum has taught at both Vancouver School of Theology and Sonoma State University, and has also served as a Rabbi in congregations in the United States.

Indigenous Studies Centre

The Native Ministries M.Div. by Extension Program is the only degree program in North America for persons engaged in ministry in First Nations communities that is accredited by The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. At the present time, the program includes students from the Anglican, Presbyterian and United churches in Canada and from several denominations in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Partnership with First Nations Peoples and the Churches

This innovative degree program was developed in partnership with First Nations people. The primary location and context for learning is the community in which the student lives and serves. This context is crucial for the student’s effective engagement with the social, cultural, political and religious values of First Nations communities. Denominational authorities are also indispensable partners. They nominate candidates and provide the necessary infrastructure for the delivery of the degree program. This infrastructure includes the identification of tutors, the allocation of suitable meeting places for course and seminar sessions and the arrangement of a suitable ministry location for the student. Certain tutor and student costs are also borne by the sponsoring denomination. The guidelines and standards for this infrastructure are established by the School.

Throughout their enrollment in this degree program, students normally continue to exercise some congregational ministry. In this fashion, students need not leave their cultural context, and their communities are not deprived of individuals who are already providing congregational leadership.

Native Ministries Consortium

The members of the Native Ministries Consortium are:

• Anglican First Nations Council of Caledonia

• Native MinistriesCouncil, BC Conference (United Church of Canada)

• Episcopal Church in Navajoland

• Episcopal Diocese of Alaska

• Cook School for Christian Leadership (Tempe, AZ)

• Henry Budd College for Ministry (The Pas, MB)

• Indigenous Theological Training Institute (ECUSA)

• Vancouver School of Theology

The purpose of the Consortium is to develop, under Native direction, community-based training programs for Native ministries, both lay and ordained. The Consortium appoints members to the School’s Native Ministries Program Committee, which has primary responsibility for the M.Div. by Extension program.

Degrees Awarded

Vancouver School of Theology currently offers the following degrees and certifications:[4][5]

Continuing Education

Certificate in Theological Studies

Theology Building converted to Economics

On January 8, 2014 the Vancouver Sun reported that UBC had purchased the elegant 85 year old Vancouver School of Theology building on Iona Drive for $28 million and will convert it as the new home of the UBC's Vancouver School of Economics (VSE) since the building was too large and costly for the VST's 115 full- and part-time students to maintain.[6] The Christian graduate school will move—in the summer of 2014—to a smaller building "on the north side of the UBC campus, called Somerville House. The school will retain its A-frame Chapel of Epiphany."[7] While the 1927 100,000 square foot Iona building is the longtime home of the Vancouver School of Theology, it needs only about a "quarter of the space and it is finding it difficult to keep up with operating costs."[8] The VST will use a portion of the sale proceeds to relocate their operations to more suitable space in the UBC theological neighbourhood and place the balance of the funds in an endowment to support its educational mission and operations.[9]



  • William S. Taylor 'Step by Step by Step: An Anecdotal History of the Growth of Union College, 1948-1971 Vancouver School of Theology and University Hill United Church' (Vancouver: 1993)
  • Ralph C. Pybus, 'The Story of Union College' (Vancouver: Board of Governors, Union College of British Columbia, 1971 Pamphlet)

See also


  1. ^ Burkinshaw, Robert (1995). Pilgrims in Lotus Land: conservative protestantism in British Columbia, 1917-1981. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 29. 
  2. ^ About | Vancouver School of Theology
  3. ^ stained glass at Vancouver School of Theology
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Douglas Todd, Theology building converts to economics: School sells elegant home to UBC, Vancouver Sun, January 8, 2014, pp.A1-A2
  7. ^ Todd, Ibid., p.A1
  8. ^ Todd, Ibid., p.A2
  9. ^ Vancouver School of Theology sells Iona building to UBC, January 7, 2014, University of British Columbia Media Release

External links

  • Vancouver School of Theology - official site
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