Rev. Dr. Jay Atkinson

Research Scholar


B.S. Indiana University (physics), 1962
M.S. Oregon State University (physics), 1972
B.A. Oregon State University (religious studies, 1975)
A.M University of Chicago (divinity, 1977)
D.Min. Meadville Lombard Theological School (1979)


The Rev. Dr. Jay Atkinson retired in June 2011 from thirty-two years of full-time service in Unitarian Universalist parish ministry. During those years he served also on the adjunct faculties of Morningside College (1985), Starr King School for the Ministry (1994, 1999, 2006), and Meadville Lombard Theological School (2003), and was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Process Studies in Claremont in 1996.

Among Dr. Atkinson’s publications are:

  • “Religious Tolerance and Social Concord in the Unitarian and Universalist Traditions,” Ideas of Concord and Discord in Selected World Religions, vol. 2 in Research in Human Social Conflict, ed. Joseph B. Gittler (Greenwich, Conn: JAI Press, 2000), 385-426;
  • “Engaged Dissent among the Polish Brethren,” The Role of the Dissenter in Western Christianity: From Jesus Through the 16th Century, ed. Alicia McNary Forsey (Berkeley: Starr King, 2004), 85-96; and
  • “Alfred Cole Unmasked: The Provenance of the Universalist Preaching Commission,” Journal of Unitarian Universalist History XXXVII (2013-2014), 100-125.

Presentations at scholarly conferences include

  • “Religious Pluralism as a Response to Human Finitude: Christoff Ostorodt and the Polish Brethren,” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, 20-23 October 2005;
  • “The Church as a Self-Critical Learning Community: Some Sixteenth-Century Precursors of Creative Interchange in the Ecclesiology of the Polish Brethren,” Ecclesiology Session, Sixth International Whitehead Conference, Universität Salzburg, Austria, 3-6 July 2006;
  • “Poland as an Early Humanist Crucible for East-West Encounter,” American Academy of Religion: Western Region, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California, 7-9 March 2014; and
  • “Neighborly Coexistence: The Polish Spirit of Tolerance and its Internationalist Roots,” Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, 16-19 October 2014.

Dr. Atkinson’s abiding interests are in UU History, social/economic justice, and process theology. His scholarship focuses primarily on the Polish Brethren in the early modern period, 1560-1635.