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John Gay Collection, 1916-2002

Biographical Note

John Gay is considered to be an expert on the subect of the Westernization of traditional societies. A priest, professor and scholar, Gay often writes about the civil war conflicts in Liberia and the clash between Westernization and traditional culture in his novels, articles and non-fiction works, His works include:

  • Long Day's Anger
  • Red Dust on the Green Leaves
  • The Brightening Shadow
  • Africa: A Dream Deferred
  • Liberia's Choices and Regional Stability
  • Intelligence in Action: A Study of Agruculture in Rural Liberia
  • The New Mathematics and an Old Culture: A Study of Learnign among the Kpelle of Liberia

The Rev. Dr. Gay served as an Episcopal missionary with his wife, The Rev. Dr. Judy Gay, in Liberia from 1958-1974. Gay and his wife continued their missionary work in Lesotho until he took an early retirement in 2001. In Lesotho he worked with the Sechaba Consultants on social and economic analysis, as well as various agricultural projects.

Gay began his missionary work in Africa at Cuttington College (now Cuttington University) located in Suacoco, Liberia, serving periodically from 1958-1965, 1966-1968, and 1970-1973. For those years he was Chairperson of the Social Science division and also Dean of Instruction from 1958-1960. Along with teaching, Gay also supervised student research projects, worked within the community, and conducted his own research. During a few of his years away from Cuttington, Gay had fellowships at Stanford University, 1965-1966, and Cambridge University, 1975-1976, and again in 1986. Gay took that time to study how new ideas in theology and social and economic development relate, as well as write up his research from in Liberia.

Gay later taught sociology and African studies at the National University of Lesotho. For two of those years Gay taught as a Fulbright Lecturer. He also voluntarily taught at the Anglican theological seminaries in Lesotho and South Africa.

After retirement, Gay became involved with the Episcopal Divinity School and Boston University, organizing seminary tours in Africa and administering contextual theology consultation at the Episcopal Divinity School.

Gay continues his support in current research done at Sechaba Consultants in Cambridge and in several visits completed from 2002-2005 to Lesotho, South Africa and Namibia. Because of his expertise, he now serves on the Advisory Committee of the International Institute for Justice and Development (IIJD).