The Chair for Wesley Studies at Tyndale Seminary, Toronto , is $40,000 closer to being fully funded, according to Rev. Lloyd Eyre, president of the Lorne Park Foundation.
Recently, the Management Committee of the Board of Administration of The Free Methodist Church in Canada allocated an undesignated $40,000 bequest to this fund, bringing total cash in hand to $770,000. Of this amount, $360,000 is held by the Lorne Park Foundation and $410,000 by the Free Methodist Foundation of the Canadian church.
The Donald N. and Kathleen G. Bastian Chair of Wesley Studies at Tyndale Seminary was established in 1993 to assure that Free Methodist and other students in the Wesleyan tradition receive a good understanding of their theological foundations as they train for ministry at Tyndale, a trans-denominational seminary.
The objective regarding the Chair is to raise enough money in a permanent fund so that the interest from that fund will provide the salary for a professor in perpetuity. This avoids a yearly drain on other funds needed for church ministries and assures that the training will always be available.
Dr. Victor Shepherd, the first occupant of the Chair on a half time basis, has been a popular professor for the whole student body and has made the Chair highly visible. This, in turn, has given voice to the Wesley heritage and contributed to the training of ministers of several denominations. It has thus created an appreciation for Wesley’s contribution to the Protestant mosaic.
Dr. Shepherd has recently become Professor of Systematic Theology at Tyndale and an interview process is going on for a replacement to fill the Wesley Chair. It is expected that a full time professor will be on staff by the fall of 2005.
The minimum amount needed to reach the goal of a fully funded chair is $1,200,000. It is hoped the fund drive will not end until $1,500,000 is raised. Outstanding pledges exceed $400,000.
Although Free Methodist leaders initiated this venture, until the Chair is fully funded, the following Wesleyan-oriented bodies provide annual amounts to make a full time Chair possible: The Free Methodist Church in Canada , the Brethren in Christ Church , The Salvation Army, The Wesleyan Church and the Church of the Nazarene.
Both the Management Committee of the Board of Administration and the Board of the Lorne Park Foundation see this as an important project in the development of the Church in Canada