Multi-denominational support needed

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A transition doesn’t necessarily make for an overhaul.

With the upcoming retirement of Queens’ chaplain, Brian Yealland, the University is looking to discuss what the chaplain’s office should look like moving forward.

There’s undeniable value in the office as it stands, whether it be in a practical or spiritual sense.

The Chaplain’s role in organizing Remembrance Day ceremonies, funerals and other official spiritual ceremonies is a necessary and important part of university life and should be kept in place.

It’s the spiritual aspect of the chaplain’s job that’s more debatable.

When Yealland started his chaplaincy at Queen’s 29 years ago, the school was likely a less religiously diverse place.

Yealland himself was a minister in the United Church of Canada prior to starting his position at Queen’s.

In his time in the position, the role of the Chaplain has shifted into one that caters to many different denominations and faiths.

This is an important part of the position — the focus should remain on accepting and promoting multi-denominational spiritual support.

While some schools have multiple chaplains representing different faiths, this isn’t necessary at Queen’s.

The position is already expensive enough, with the Chaplain’s salary reaching over $100,000 a year.

What is important is that the next chaplain has leadership experience in his or her given religion, but also has vast knowledge and a deep understanding of other important religions.

This is a strength that Yealland already has, and that any proceeding Chaplain should also carry.

They should be able to provide counselling to any student, regardless of their beliefs.

In further determining what the position should look like in the coming years, the University should continue making an effort to spark dialogue amongst different religious groups on campus.

It should also be acknowledged that Queen’s is a secular institution. Speaking to non-religious members of the University about how they want the Chaplain’s office to serve them is valid and important.

The spirit of the chaplaincy as it stands today is not a far cry from how it should evolve in the future, showcasing the importance of the office’s existence at Queen’s.

— Journal Editorial Board

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