Essentials » Administration

The Colleges are run by a body of Trustees comprising six ex-officio members the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Rochester, the Dean of St Paul’s, the Archdeacon of Bromley and Bexley and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Rochester together with seven co-opted Trustees.

In practice the duties of the Trustees are undertaken by the co-opted Trustees together with deputies appointed by the ex-officio Trustees, except for the Archdeacon, the Ven Paul Wright who serves as a Trustee. The co-opted Trustees are Mr John Thorogood (Chair), Mr Tony Bentley, Mr Richard Collins, Mr Christopher Scott and Mrs Lynda Stimson. Appointed Deputies are Mr Derek Shilling (Treasurer) for the Bishop of London, Cllr Peter Morgan for the Dean of St Paul’s, James Pearson for the Chancellor of Rochester Diocese. There are also two Collegian Trustees, Miss Kathleen Craig and the Rev’d George Baisley.

The day to day administration is in the hands of the Chaplain, the Rev’d Jane Kustner, who is also Clerk to the Trustees.

Let me introduce myself as the chaplain and clerk to the governors of Bromley and Sheppard’s Colleges. This adventure began on 7 May 2019 when the previous incumbent retired after six years’ service to the collegians and trustees. I follow a chaplain who had deep compassion and devoted pastoral skills – a hard act to follow.

What I bring is many years as a chartered accountant and latterly priest. My life as an accountant started as an auditor and this continues to be part of my DNA. As a partner I worked with many small businesses. Back in those days many of my clients were struggling with very high interest rates; raising money and servicing debt were huge challenges. I sojourned in South Africa for nearly 5 years, working in the profession and industry; scratching the surface of the economic implications of apartheid, in the mines and in factories. I am ashamed to say the life of a young white woman in South Africa was self-indulgent and blithely ignorant. But I returned to South Africa in 2017, fulfilling a dream to go back as an ordained priest to work in a township. Was this a desire to compensate for my youthful carelessness? I was appointed priest in charge of a church in a coloured location called Mariannridge in Kwa Zulu Natal. I use the apartheid descriptor simply for clarity. Living with a family in the relocation meant I scratched the surface of the culture and experience of a mixed-race community; deeply traumatised and disappointed, left behind in the post-apartheid rainbow nation of South Africa.

It occurred to me writing this that I have been the first woman priest in three situations now: Saint Swithun’s in Hither Green, South London, Christ the King in Mariannridge, and now chaplain to Bromley & Sheppard’s Colleges. Although the Anglican church in South Africa accepted the ordination of women some years before the UK, other churches did not embrace solo female leadership. In the relocation, my gender was initially a stumbling block to ecumenical cooperation; not with the pastors but with their wives. The powerful group of pastors’ wives could not understand how God would call not just a woman, but a divorcee, to church leadership particularly without a man at her side. However, when their feelings surfaced, there were tears of reconciliation and friendships forged; I will never forget their faith, service and love.

Here at the college the chaplain lives amongst the community. I see my job is to maintain a safe, comfortable and working environment for this community to flourish. From a pastoral perspective, yes, the chaplain provides practical and spiritual support. But we are a college of clergy, clergy spouses and family, people well used to the machinations and demands of Christian living. We strive to be a community of mutual ministering, learning, growth and fun!