[As Written on July 11, 2013]
It is a tremendous honor and privilege to write to you as the President-elect of The King's College. I want to express my deep thanks to the Presidential Search Committee and The Board of Trustees of the college for electing me to this office at this great institution.
It is with sincere humility that I undertake this role as we begin the work together toward a preferred future for this unique college situated in the greatest city in the world. I would also like to commend Andy Mills for his exemplary leadership as President of this institution during a time of transition.
The King's College stands firmly rooted in the great tradition of the animating ideals of Western Civilization, and yet fully engaged in the debates regarding the future of our society. The history of this great city helps tell the story of why we need a college such as ours, and why we need it now.
Right across the street from our campus, Alexander Hamilton, one of our Founding Fathers, lies buried in the cemetery at Trinity Church. One of the principal authors of The Federalist Papers, and a graduate of the original King's College (now Columbia), he believed that New York City would be the financial and cultural epicenter that would promote human flourishing in the new American republic.
Just around the corner from our campus on Wall and Nassau once stood the First Presbyterian Church, where a nineteen year old Jonathan Edwards, freshly graduated from Yale, pastored briefly, and then distinguished himself as the greatest theological mind in American history. That church would also welcome those who dissented from the dead religion of the age -- prophetic voices, such as George Whitefield, the friend of John Wesley. The testimonies of these great figures in church history inspired the men who stand behind the founding vision of The King's College, men such as Percy Crawford, Robert Cook, and Friedhelm Radant.
On January 22, 1913, further afield from our environs in the Financial District, a son was born to German immigrant parents at 92 East End Avenue. That boy, who attended P.S. 77, would grow up to be the greatest evangelical theologian of the twentieth century – Carl F. H. Henry.
Although Henry, the founding editor of Christianity Today, would spend the majority of his career in the nation's capital, he spent his life in a New York state of mind. Along with Billy Graham, Henry dreamed of building an elite Christian college with the most brilliant faculty imaginable and the most prepared students in the classroom, ready to learn. The pair ultimately failed in their efforts, but their idea birthed a dream. Bill Bright and J. Stanley Oakes delivered on that promissory note when they brought the historic legacy of The King's College into the heart of the city at the Empire State Building. The college was reborn.
We owe it to these worthy forebears to see that their dreams and convictions reach a new generation of the best and brightest students on planet Earth. We owe it to those who support this school to see to it that these learners sink their roots deep into the texts and traditions that made the West great, lifted countless millions out of poverty through sound economic theory and gave hope to the world through the witness of the great Christian Intellectual Tradition. We must get this right.
I covenant with you to do my best to work with you and for you, The King's College community, to ensure that the best days of this great institution are ahead of us. To this end we are called — to be faithful citizens and co-laborers in our time in this city, which is the most powerful symbol of freedom, creativity, and progress in the world.
Gregory Alan Thornbury, Ph.D.
President, The King's College