The Rev. Dr. C. Douglas Jay

A Persistent Honoured Theologian

C. Douglas Jay – 1925-2021

The Preacher’s Kid

It would be a challenge to find someone more aware of the importance of theological studies for the Christian Church and more persistent in strengthening it than The Rev. Dr. C. Douglas Jay.

For fifty years, Douglas Jay learned, researched, taught, created, administered, conferred, and promoted the Church’s special knowledge and wisdom – theological studies and education. 

He began his learning as a ‘preacher’s kid’ in an Ontario manse and went from there to the University of Toronto to explore philosophy and history. This was followed by an M.Div. degree at Emmanuel College, graduating top of the class as the Sanford God Medalist. Completing PhD studies in Edinburgh led to pastoral ministry and then to teaching ethics and philosophy of religion at Emmanuel in 1955.

Drawing the Circle Wide

Understanding that theology should never be done in a silo, he was a world traveler, connecting with Christians and people of other faiths. The world is too small to encompass all theological truth, and Douglas Jay kept “drawing the circle wide”.  

He became secretary of the Commission on World Mission which presented a “tipping point” report to the 1966 General Council. It paved the potholed way toward more respectful and creative relations ecumenically and with other world faiths. Dr. Jay travelled from coast to coast in the United Church communicating new understandings of mission as “an effective Christian presence in the world.”

Toronto as a key centre for theological studies owes much to Douglas Jay. His patient but persistent efforts brought seven denominational schools together as the Toronto School of Theology (TST). University standards were upheld as theologians researched and taught students preparing for diverse role in church and related ministries.  He was TST’s first director, then served as principal of Emmanuel College, and president of the Association of Theological Schools (USA and Canada). Along the way, five schools conferred honourary degrees, the Governor General named him member of the Order of Canada, among other awards for his huge personal investment in faith-based education.

Douglas Jay understood that people of faith need to be rooted not only in scripture texts and in the heritage of faith, but also in the knowledge and wisdom currently awakened by God’s diverse human family and by Creation itself. Faith needs understanding for faithful action and theological education awakens informed faith

-The Rev. Dr. Harry Oussoren

A Legacy of Theological Leadership

The Rev. Dr. C. Douglas Jay died January 1st, 2021. His Will attests to his deep commitment to theological education, with a generous bequest to the United Church of Canada Foundation, which will be used to support United Church scholars. This gift is the inspiration for the Foundation’s special theological education campaign Supporting Theological Leadership

Thanks to Dr. Jay and others who value the pursuit of education, the Foundation can support and nurture gifted students following God’s Call to ministry, teaching, and research.

However, we need your help to keep making this funding possible!

Please consider making a gift today that will help the Foundation’s capacity to support these talented scholars! Your gift will ensure that we can grant the maximum funding available, providing even more meaningful financial support to those who need it. Visit to donate.

[for a profile of Douglas Jay, please read Phyllis Airhart’s appreciative words: “C. Douglas Jay: Faithful Visionary” in Touchstone Journal, Feb. 2023, Vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 49-57.) Digital version here.]


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