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The Rev. Jay Williams, Ph.D.

Lead Pastor

Jay Williams is the Lead Pastor of the Union Combined Parish. In this role, Jay guides Union’s growth through strategic imagination, innovation, and planning. His leadership, preaching, and teaching orients the congregation to live out its values and mission. He is deeply committed to the work of liberation: anti-oppression, flourishing, and the empowerment of the marginalized. Through his pastoral and academic work, he strives to help disinherited folks “come to voice” and mobilize for social transformation.

Jay returned to Union as lead pastor in September 2012 after being a member of the church during his college years. Ordained in 2014, he is an elder in full connection with the New England Conference of The United Methodist Church, and has served congregations in New York City, Boston, and San Francisco.

Jay earned a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 2003 graduating magna cum laude, a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in 2009, and a Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University in 2017. His dissertation, “Unholy Ghosts in the Age of Spirit,” develops a constructive theology of spirit that rethinks hope, courage, and vitality, premised on insights from W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Howard Thurman.

Jay, a queer, cisgender man lives in the Fort Hill neighborhood of Roxbury in Boston. From Buffalo, New York, Jay loves fruit snacks, working out, and the 1980s cartoon “The Thundercats.”

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