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Rev. Dr. William J. Klempa passes away; Knox College expresses condolences


klempa earlier photoRev. Dr. William J. Klempa passed away peacefully on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at St. Mary’s Hospital (Montreal). His children, Catherine, Michael, and Mary-Margaret Klempa, shared the announcement.

Dr. Klempa made impressive contributions to The Presbyterian Church in Canada as a pastor, educator, author, and the Principal of The Presbyterian College (Montreal). He earned an international reputation for his contribution to Presbyterian scholarship as a prolific writer of columns, essays, and books. Most recently the Westminster John Knox Press published A Unique Time of God: Karl Barth’s WWI Sermons, translated and edited by William Klempa, at the end of 2016.

Klempa earned a bachelor’s degree from United College (University of Manitoba) in 1954 and a master’s degree from the University of Toronto in 1955. Bill lived in the Knox residence in the 1950s while completing his bachelor of divinity and doctor of divinity degrees (1958) from Knox College. He then earned his doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1962, with studies at Harvard University and at Goettingen and Basel under such notables as Oscar Cullman and Karl Barth, as one of the first recipients of a Canada Council Research Fellowship. Knox College awarded him a Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) in 1994.

On November 5, 2016, Dr. Klempa received the Knox College Former Residents’ Association (KNOXFRA) Award of Honour for public, community, and business leadership. The Award pays tribute to former Knox residents by publicly recognizing their unique and outstanding service and accomplishments. As he accepted the award, Dr. Klempa demonstrated his continued self-possession and command of listeners as he discussed the meaning of leadership – referencing current politics as well as Presbyterian history.

Klempa recent photo

2016 KNOXFRA Award winner Rev. Dr. William J. Klempa.

Also in November 2016, Dr. Klempa attended the inaugural Lois Stewart Klempa Memorial Lecture at Knox College, established in honour of his late wife. After Lois’ death in 2013, Bill, members of Lois’ family, and memorial donors established the Lois Stewart Klempa Memorial Lectureship series at Knox College to honour Lois’ commitment to theological education and her insightful thinking on current issues. The Rev. Ian Ross-McDonald (General Secretary of the Life and Mission Agency of The Presbyterian Church in Canada) presented the inaugural lecture, offering his observations and reflections on his recent visit to the Middle East.

A service celebrating Dr. Klempa’s life will take place on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at 11 a.m. at the Church of St Andrew and St Paul (3415 Redpath St., Montreal). A second service will occur on Saturday, April 8, at 2 p.m. at Rosedale Presbyterian Church (129 Mt Pleasant Rd., Toronto) for family and friends in Toronto.