Rev. Dr. Joseph C. McLelland (1925–2016)


It is with sadness that we share news that the Rev. Dr. Joseph C. McLelland has died. And we wish to extend our sincere condolences to his children, grandchildren, extended family, colleagues, and friends. Professor McLelland was a fixture at the college over many years and he touched the lives of many through his preaching, teaching, and writing, and through friendship and conversation. He will be missed here, and we entrust him to the keeping of God, in Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Joseph McLelland was born in Port-Glasgow, Scotland, and came to Canada in 1927 with his family. At McMaster University he earned a BA in English literature, followed by a BD from Knox College, Toronto, and an MA in philosophy from the University of Toronto. Dr. McLelland served as the minister of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Val D’Or, Quebec and then went to the University of Edinburgh where he received a PhD in historical theology. Upon returning to Canada, he became the minister to congregations at Bolton and Nashville, in Ontario. In 1957 he joined the faculty of The Presbyterian College, Montreal, as the Robert Professor of History and Philosophy of Religion. In 1959 he became an associate professor of philosophy and religion at McGill University, Montreal. In his retirement he was appointed as McConnell Professor Emeritus. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University from 1975 to 1985.

Dr. McLelland was a prolific author, editor, and reviewer. In 1985 he was elected moderator of the 111th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Dr. McLelland received a Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) from Knox College, Toronto and from the Diocesan Theological College, Montreal. In October 2007, the Presbyterian College renamed the library in honour of Dr. McLelland, in recognition of his fifty-year association with the College.

Dr. McLelland is pre-deceased by his beloved wife, Audrey. He is survived by their children Jonathan, Peter, Andrew, and Margaret, and their grandchildren.

There will be a memorial service at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, 70 Beaconsfield Blvd. (2 blocks east of St. Charles) H9W 3Z3, on Saturday, February 25, 2017, at 11:00 a.m., with visitation at the church one hour before the service. Donations in Joe’s honour may be made to Briarwood Church or to The Presbyterian College, Montreal, 3495 University St. H3A 2A8. The ashes of Joe and Audrey are to be interred in Hamilton in the spring; the date of the accompanying memorial service will be announced at a later time.

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