In Memoriam: Sang Chul Lee

The Very Rev. Dr. Sang Chul Lee


It is with sadness that Victoria University announces the passing of Sang Chul Lee, Victoria University chancellor from 1992–1998. Lee also served as moderator of the United Church of Canada from 1988–1990. “His contributions to the United Church of Canada and his lifetime of work on behalf of social justice have measurably improved the lives of many immigrant communities in Canada and the lives of others who, for too long, have been living in the midst of marginalization on the fringes of our society,” said Emmanuel College Principal Mark Toulouse.

Born in Siberia, Lee first came to Canada in 1961 as a graduate student in theology at Union College, B.C. In 1965, Lee and his wife and three daughters made Canada their permanent home and he began working as a minister in at Stevenson United Church. In 1966, he founded the Vancouver Korean United Church. In 1969, upon moving to Toronto, he served as minister to the Toronto Korean United Church—a position he held until 1988. His contributions as a pioneer in the Korean community in Canada are significant. Lee was the first chairperson for the Korean-Canadian Association in Vancouver, the first of its kind in Canada. He was a board member of the Korean-Canadian Association, Metro Toronto and acted as chairperson for the Korean Human Rights Council. He also became involved in the Korean Scholars Association in North America, the North-American Coalition for Human Rights in Korea, the Council for Democracy in Korea, the Canada-Asia Working Group and the Korean Mental Health Service. Lee was also known as columnist for a Korean newspaper and worked as a producer for Voice of Hope, a Korean radio broadcast.

Described as a pastor, prophet and pioneer, Lee’s life was a testament to his faith. He was elected president of the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada in 1985. In 1989, he was named Rainbow Chief at the All Native Circle Conference and became an honoured member of the gathering. As United Church moderator, Lee was an advocate for social justice and worked tirelessly to address human rights issues. He received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Victoria University in 1979 and was the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Mount Allison University in 1990. Lee died in his home on January 28, 2017.

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