The King’s University, a Christian post-secondary institution in Edmonton, Alta. founded by members of the Christian Reformed Church, got attention recently from two front-page articles featured in the Edmonton Journal. The first marked the 20th anniversary of Canada’s Supreme Court decision on the Delwin Vriend case, which resulted in recognizing equal rights for gay and lesbian Albertans and Canadians. Revisiting Vriend’s story — that of a lab instructor, fired from what was then The King’s College, with a thwarted discrimination complaint, turned supreme court challenge — was upsetting to some for the impression it left of King’s as an unwelcoming place for those of differing sexual orientations.
The reporter, Paula Simons, wrote a second article the following week after she visited the campus and talked with students, staff and faculty. “Here is my rather unusual Easter story,” Simons wrote on her Facebook page, “about a Christian learning community adapting itself to the world of 2018, and about a group of remarkable students on a mission to find a way to honor both their Christian faith and their sexual identity.”
“I have never felt unsafe or unloved at King’s,” said one of those students who identified as bisexual, “and I want people to know how loving a place this is.” Others from the LGBTQ community voiced similar sentiments. The article also highlighted a recent Pride event at King’s involving students from SPEAK (Sexuality, Pride, and Equality Alliance at King’s) and mentioned that “a group from King’s will march for the first time in the Edmonton Pride Parade.” Some readers understood this to mean institutional participation, and King’s received a number of letters of concern. In response, King’s sent a letter to all the councils of Christian Reformed churches in Western Canada, clarifying several things.
“We recognize that people of deep Christian faith interpret the Scriptures differently,” the letter said, “and that is as true at King’s as it is in any other Christian organization. King’s is a Christian university, and as an educational institution and not a church or political organization, we do not take detailed political or doctrinal positions aside from a deep commitment to our Christian mission. We are called to love and teach all students who come through our doors, and we continue to be committed to teaching from a distinctly Christian perspective and to pursuing a more humane, just, and sustainable world.” The letter also confirmed that all faculty and staff, as well as its Board of Governors, the majority of whom are CRC members, sign a statement of faith. It clarified that what had been described as ‘Pride Week’ at King’s was an opportunity for the campus community to have conversation on the topic. It also made clear that while individuals or groups may be participating in Edmonton’s Pride Parade— an annual celebration of LGBTQ culture—The King’s University as an institution, is not.
King’s president Melanie Humphreys, who signed the distributed letter, informed the councils that the university’s board is working to develop a God-honoring statement of inclusion “that will help us model Christ in how we serve others and live out our mission and vision.” She asked for prayers for wisdom and discernment and invited people with questions or concerns to contact her.
Note from news editor: On Nov. 19, 2018, a correction was made to this story, adding the words "members of" in the very first line.