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The Dean Speaks


22-23 May

Wesak Greeting from the Dean


"I want to wish a very Happy Wesak Day to all our Buddhist students and staff.

Wesak or Vesak Day celebrates the birthday of the Buddha, and is considered the holiest day in the Buddhist calendar. It's a holiday observed by Buddhists across the world, though the exact date may sometimes vary from country to country.

The Buddha said: "Your purpose in life is to find your purpose, and give your whole heart and soul to it." Whether you follow the teachings of the Buddha or not, I hope that you are able to find your own life's purpose, and to give yourself wholeheartedly to it. 

And, to all those staff and students who celebrate, may this Wesak Day be filled with satisfaction and happiness, and may it be a step on your own path to unity and peace."


13 April

Vaisakhi Greeting from the Dean


"I'd like to wish all our Sikh staff and students a very Happy Vaisakhi.

Vaisakhi falls each year on the 13th of April, and is the principal Sikh holiday. It celebrates the day in 1699 when the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, formalised the Khalsa - the Sikh rite of initiation.

This is a rite for all those who want to make a commitment to a Sikh way of life, and to devote their life to God. It's a serious and joyful commitment, embracing accountability and surrender to God, self control, the defence of the innocent, a willingness to stand out, and an intent to maintain a connection with God.

I hope that all of us this year might take time to think about what our own deepest values are, and make a commitment to living these out in ways that make the world a better place for all people.

And, to all our Sikh students and staff - Vadaiyan Vaisakhi deeyan! Best wishes for Vaisakhi."


28 March 

Easter Greeting from the Dean


"I want to send a greeting to all our Christian staff and students this Easter.

This is the holiest time of the Christian year when we remember the depth of God's love for all humanity. The Triduum, the three holy days, take us into the extremes of human experience. Through betrayal, despair and death, into new life, and hope and joy.

The Easter message is that love is stronger than hate, forgiveness is stronger than revenge, life is stronger than death. And, that God walks with us through all our joys, and all our worst moments. 

We give each other chocolate eggs at Easter because eggs are a symbol of this new life – and chocolate is a delicious source of joy for many! The Easter Bunny is a far later addition, bouncing in as the Easter equivalent of Father Christmas.

May this Spring bring new hope and new life to you all. And, to all students and staff who celebrate, may I wish you a very Happy Easter."


10 March

Ramadan Greeting from the Dean


"I want to send a greeting to all our Muslim students and staff as we enter the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan marks the first revelation of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, to the Prophet Muhammad (MPBUH). It's observed by fasting from all food and drink from sunup to sundown. So, we ask all members of King's to be aware of the extra strain this may be putting on Muslim colleagues and friends.

But, Ramadan isn't just a time of abstinence. It's also a time of hope, of generosity, of spending time with loved ones and renewing your own sense of what is at the heart of who you are. It's a time for looking out, to the needs of the world, as well as in, to the needs of one's own being.

Ramadan ends with the feast of Eid al-Fitr, which this year falls in our Spring holiday. So, to all who observe the fast, Ramadan Kareem - may you have a generous Ramadan. And, Eid Mubarak - a blessed Eid when the feast arrives."

 Information to support our students and staff honouring religious observances during the holy month of Ramadan.


27 January

Holocaust Memorial Day

It is with great sadness that the Dean's Office and Chaplaincy mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

We must never forget the enormity of the crime committed against the Jewish population of Europe and the ongoing need to fight against all forms of antisemitism and cruelty.

This is a day to remember our shared humanity across all that divides us, and to treat one another with civility and kindness.

The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is Fragility of Freedom. You can find out more about this theme on the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website.



13 November

Diwali Greeting from the Dean


"I wanted to offer a special greeting to all of our Hindu students and staff this festival time, and to wish you all a happy and prosperous Diwali.

In the midst of the often very bleak news, and the grey weather, it's a blessing to have a chance to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil, and of knowledge over ignorance.

As Hindus across the world remember the victory of Rama over the demon Ravana, may this be a time when our own individual demons are defeated, whatever they may be. A time when we continue to create knowledge through excellent research and education, and a time when the world addresses the demons of war, poverty and oppression.

May we all find moments of light and colour this November. And a very happy Diwali to all who celebrate!"


18 October


Written for a different humanitarian catastrophe, but is on my mind right now:

 Hymn of Lament


10 October

A prayer for peace in the Holy Land

Holy God of Peace, We know your heart breaks when your children fight and kill. We pray for peace and justice in the Holy Land, for the safety of all people, and for an immediate end to violence. Be with all those who are wounded, bereaved and terrorised, and gather in your eternal arms all those who have died. Turn the hearts of all those who believe killing is the answer. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen. 


28 September 

Remembering Bishop Keith Riglin FKC

The Revd Dr Keith RiglinIt is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of Bishop Keith Riglin on Sunday 24 September 2023, following a short illness. 

Keith left King’s in April 2021 to move to Scotland as Bishop of Argyll & The Isles in the Episcopal Church of Scotland, but kept in touch with many former colleagues and students, and he will be remembered with great fondness by many across the university.

Keith joined King’s in April 2012 as maternity cover for the Chaplain to the Denmark Hill & Waterloo campuses, and after that year was delighted to be asked to stay in the Chaplaincy team in the newly created post of Chaplain to the St Thomas’ campus. Over the next eight years Keith put in a tremendous amount of work at St Thomas’ to build relationships amongst both King’s and GSTT staff, becoming a valiant supporter of all the students’ needs on that campus.

From 2017 Keith also took on the role of first Assistant Dean and then Vice-Dean, and was a hugely enthusiastic supporter of the AKC programme, taking the course himself (completing it in 2016) as well as hosting discussion groups at St Thomas’ and serving on the Steering Committee from 2012 to 2020.

In common with other members of the Chaplaincy team, Keith greatly enjoyed being on the platform to applaud students at Graduation ceremonies, and he especially appreciated spotting the AKC epitoge on graduands’ gowns. He was deeply honoured to be awarded the Fellowship of the College in January 2023.

Keith was also a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Theology & Religious Studies from 2016-19, and maintained the link after his move to Scotland, as a Visiting Research Fellow.

Keith had the hugely enviable gift of making friends and contacts wherever he went; at any Chaplaincy social event he could be guaranteed to spot someone new, and start a conversation with the phrase “I don’t think I know you – I’m Keith”. He will be very sadly missed across more of King’s than just the St Thomas’ campus, and beyond the Dean’s Office & Chaplaincy.

The Strand and Guy’s Chapels are open all day for prayer and quiet reflection, and to light candles. More information about formal ways to remember Keith will follow in due course. In the meantime, please keep his widow, Jen Smith, and his wider family, friends and colleagues (in Scotland and elsewhere) in your thoughts.

Keith’s wonderful gift for friendship made him deeply beloved at King’s and beyond. We will greatly miss his wit, his kindness, and his delightfully infectious joie de vivre. 


27 September

Reflections on the start of the academic year

As we begin a new year together, I want to root us in the college’s motto, the phrase that is woven into the fabric of King’s and that should be a thread to guide us into the future more than to tether us to the past: sancte et sapienter, holiness and wisdom.

200 years ago, King’s founders likely had a very different sense of what those words mean than most of us today. Their understanding would have had more of God in it and less of justice and equality. Holiness, for them, would have been based in a particular form of worship, while wisdom would have been shaped by a very different understanding of the world around them.

It is completely right that the content of these two words should flex and change with new knowledge and broader experience. They need to integrate fresh and surprising insights as well as to preserve stable, grounding truths. But, through all that change, I think these words still resonate with a sense of why we are all here, why King’s is here and why King’s deserves to continue to be here.

Holiness for many of us may be a slightly alien word. But, it reflects the human desire to be the very best we can be, to honour the highest expressions of humanity. Holiness is helping create a university, and a world, where mutuality, kindness, respect, and generosity mean that it can be a safe home for all.

Wisdom feels more naturally at home in a university, but it is still something we need to consciously commit to if we are to do more than create mere knowledge. Wisdom involves a long-term perspective that is able to see well-beyond immediate, individual benefit towards far-reaching and fundamental purpose. Wisdom calls for responsibility for our impact on the world around us and on the generations to come.

So, as we move into this new academic year, let us at King’s continue to create a space together which has holiness and wisdom at its centre. Let’s try to make sure sancte et sapienter are knitted into the fabric of the King’s experience as more than words in an ancient language. Let’s live into our commitments to ‘making the world a better place’ and ‘knowledge with purpose’ so that we can be proud to be members of this ever-evolving King’s College London. 


18 September

Welcome to King's!

Welcome to your great university! You may be feeling a lot of different emotions as you begin university life – excitement and anticipation maybe alongside some anxiety and apprehension. I want you to remember one very important thing in the midst of all that – you are enough. You are bright enough to manage your coursework; you are likeable enough to make good friends; you are capable enough to manage this big change in your life. You are enough – and we are delighted you are here!

And, for the times when you don’t believe this, or if everything gets overwhelming and you need to step back for a little while, there are lots of people here to help. You can walk in to the Chaplaincy on any campus and talk with one of our friendly and understanding Chaplains, who are there to help students of all faiths and none. You can make an appointment with a Counsellor, another Student Services Specialist, or with your Tutor. No-one will consider this a failure on your part, everyone will want to help.

I hope your time at King’s is joyful and challenging, sometimes full of silliness, sometimes full of wisdom, and always moving you forward into growth. When things get tough, as they do for all of us from time to time, don’t hesitate to ask for the help you need. You are enough, you’ve got this, and we are on your side cheering you on!

Welcome to King’s – we really are delighted you are here!




Find out about sermons and sermon series at King's



Written pieces from the Dean


Every Wednesday at lunchtime during term, we hold a sung Church of England Eucharist, or Holy Communion, service in the College Chapel on the Strand campus with music sung by the Choir of King's College London. A sermon is given by a member of the Dean's Office and Chaplaincy team, or by a guest preacher. These are some of the sermons that the Dean has delivered in Chapel:

  • In the Autumn term of 2023, the Dean gave a sermon celebrating St Francis - you can read the sermon via this link (pdf, 111 KB)

  • In the Spring term of 2022, the Dean gave the Ash Wednesday sermon which reflected on the conflict in Ukraine - you can read the sermon via this link (pdf, 85 KB)

  • In the Autumn term of 2021, our sermon series focused on the joys and challenges of 'Living out Faith on Campus'. You can read the Dean's sermon on the topic of Gender & Identity via this link (pdf, 191 KB). 




The Dean wrote on the topic of God (he/she/they, him/her/them) for in March 2022.




The Dean gave an Associate of King's College (AKC) lecture in January 2021 titled: Religious Leadership: Learning from the Desert Elders.

Conversation with AKC Ambassador and PhD student, Emma Lowe

As part of the AKC Conversations: Voices in the Wilderness series, the Dean met in conversation with AKC Ambassador and PhD student, Emma Lowe.

Ellen examines the role of humility and service in good leadership and discusses the ways in which leadership is both a communal and a creative process.

She also reflects on the process of finding one's vocation and the ways in which the vocation of leadership has been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has provided both a challenge and the opportunity for positive disruption to the status quo.

Conversation with The Very Revd Dr Kelly Brown Douglas

As part of the AKC Conversations: Voices in the Wilderness series, the Dean met in conversation with The Very Revd Dr Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union in New York City.

Dean Douglas is a pioneering voice addressing sexual issues in relation to the black religious community, and an advocate for equal rights for LGBTQ persons.

This conversation covers issues of gender and race equality, the importance of diversity and empowerment in leadership, the Black Lives Matter movement and a vision of hope embodied by the young leaders of tomorrow.

Why King's has a Dean

Why King’s has a Dean

King's is unusual amongst British educational institutions, in that its Dean is an ordained person.

Meet the Dean

Meet the Dean

The Dean is responsible for fostering and promoting spiritual development and welfare at King's.