This year’s winner of the prestigious Emmanuel College Distinguished Alumni/ae Award is Marilyn J. Legge Vic 7T4, Emm 8T1. The Emmanuel College Alumni/ae Association selects the recipient annually to honour a graduate of the College whose vision and leadership have distinguished them through extraordinary and exemplary ministry to the church, academy or society at large.
Legge is associate professor emerita of Christian ethics at Emmanuel College. She has chaired the United Church of Canada’s Theology and Faith Committee, is a past president of the Canadian Theological Society, and was a contributing editor to The Ecumenist: A Journal of Theology, Culture and Society.
She received her MDiv from Emmanuel in 1981 and was the recipient of the Sanford Gold Medal in Divinity, among other scholarships and awards. After receiving her PhD from Union Theological Seminary—where she studied under the well-known Christian feminist ethicist Dr. Beverly Wildung Harrison and worked as a teaching assistant with Black Liberation theologian Dr. James Cone and German peace theologian Dr. Dorothee Sölle—Legge became a globally sought-after teacher. Her primary appointments were at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon and Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. She also served as visiting scholar at the Institute for Women’s Theological Studies, Ewha Women’s University, in Seoul, South Korea.
As a professor at Emmanuel, students immediately recognized her dedication to the field. Her passion for an ethic of “justice love” was matched by her care for her students and the people they would go on to serve. “It quickly became clear that Dr. Legge lived her life in service to God’s word, contributing extensively to Emmanuel, the United Church of Canada and the global Christian community,” says former student Alexa Gilmour. “She will be remembered by us for the times she sat with us to work through theological and personal challenges. Indeed, her capacity to draw connections between theology and praxis and her own example of striving to live in right relationship with God and creation are among the gifts she offered us.”
Other former pupils wrote in support of Legge receiving the Distinguished Alumni/ae Award. “Dr. Legge invited her students into theological reflection, dialogue, learning and action for love and justice made manifest in the world,” says Rev. Dr. Jennifer Janzen-Ball, the United Church’s executive minister for theological leadership. “As a young feminist Christian, I was delighted to learn from Dr. Legge, who patiently helped me to discover my own voice in dialogue with theologians who had wrestled with some of the same questions I had. She has had a significant and profound impact on my own theological and ministerial journey, as I know she has had for many other students over the course of her vocational career.”
Over that 30-year career, Legge contributed to Canadian Christian theology in significant ways. Her earliest work, The Grace of Difference, offered new insights from a Canadian perspective into the burgeoning field of feminist theological ethics. Her most recent work encapsulates much of her decades of research, distilling it into tools that encourage teaching and lifelong learning for those seeking to share the responsibility of creating the common good at the heterogenous crossroads of the 21st century.
Along with her impressive academic offerings, Legge has served in other ways. In 1980, she was a member of the United Church of Canada’s Task Force on the Changing Roles of Women and Men in Church and Society. From 1988 to 1994, she served on the Committee on Theology and Faith. From 1993 to 2003, she served on the Women’s Advisory Group of the World Council of Churches. She has also served as president of the Canadian Theological Society, and from 2000 to 2004 as a member of the Canadian Affairs Committee of the Association of Theological Schools. In 2012, she was theme speaker for the United Reformed Church United Kingdom General Assembly.
Through her remarkable efforts both inside and outside academia, Legge has had a profound impact on countless laypeople, students and ministers, encouraging all to reflect and act from an engaged sense of justice and love. “I am deeply grateful for the education and mentoring I received at Emmanuel College as a student, for their support and encouragement in pursuing further studies, and for the opportunity to return and contribute to Emmanuel as a member of faculty,” says Legge. “And now for the honour of receiving this year’s Distinguished Alum Award!”
Please join us in congratulating Marilyn J. Legge for this well-deserved recognition!
Marilyn Legge will receive her award at the 2023 Alumni/ae Day Dinner on Monday, May 8, in a special celebration of Distinguished Alumni Award recipients and the Service Award recipients from the past three years. There is still time to register to attend! For more information, please contact Helena Herscovici, alumni affairs officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-585-4503 or visit the event page here.