Dr. James (Jim) A. Goulding


Dr. James (Jim) A. Goulding of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, peacefully completed his journey on earth on October 29, 2020 at Oak Park Place, a long-term care facility in Madison, WI.

Jim was the son of Mildred L. and Thomas W. Goulding. He leaves behind his wife of fifty-one years, Siv; his daughters Gunilla and Ulla; son-in law Robb McClintock; granddaughters Linnea, Annika, and Malina McClintock; and his brother and sister-in-law Norman and Barbara Goulding.

Jim grew up in Medina, Ohio. In high school he discovered his passion for classical music and opera while playing trombone in the band and accompanying his mother to the Cleveland Opera. Jim studied for many years earning a BA in Philosophy and Religion from DePauw University in Greencastle, IN; a BD in Pastoral Ministry and Religion in Higher Education and a Master in Sacred Theology in New Testament from Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT; and finally, a PhD in History of Christianity from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA.

Jim’s initial aim at DePauw University was becoming a doctor; however, his increasing interest in philosophy and religion and his involvement with the United Methodist Student Movement led him to become a United Methodist pastor. His ministerial career included several years as youth minister in Connecticut and a few years as pastor for two churches in northwest Ohio. Over time Jim realized also that he was drawn to the college campus through an internship with the Wesley Foundation at University of West Virginia and work teaching philosophy and religion at California State University in Fullerton, CA. He spent most of his career at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL first as Chaplain, then as Professor in Philosophy and Religion, and finally as Dean of the College and Vice-President for Academic Affairs. In retirement Jim returned to the classroom as a part- time instructor in Religious Studies at Edgewood College in Madison, WI.

Several overseas tours and first-hand encounters with the diversity of human cultures and how these affect one’s understanding of faith and philosophy profoundly affected Jim’s teaching philosophy. For Jim context was the lens through which everything was examined. Jim based his teaching upon, in his own words: …the conviction that faith, whether religious or more secular, by its very nature calls for human understanding, intellectual and emotional. God created us with a mind and wants us to use it as we try to understand our own faith commitment and our place in God’s vast universe. This philosophy whether in academia or the church… enabled… me to conduct classes in such a way that participants… come to their own personal conclusions and be able to defend them in a supportive context. Listening to others in a supportive context can help move persons to a more mature understanding and appreciation of their faith.

In more down to earth words from a former student (B Minx): Dear friend, I have such wonderful memories of you during my years at Mac. I will always appreciate your spiritual guidance and religious fervor, stimulating us intellectually as you taught, led, guided, and challenged us. Even more, it was your support, as you guided us into creating the Mac Murray Holy Fools, a lasting organization of spiritual focus through word, song, laughs, and smiles — and friends. What more could we have asked for?

Over the years the Christian faith’s call to promote Social Justice became especially important for Jim. After 9/11 he realized that the overall ignorance and lack of knowledge about Islam within this country would lead to massive prejudice and worse. From his early teaching years, he knew that Islam was a religion that promoted love, tolerance and peace and that individuals who advocated differently were not true representatives of the religion. Accordingly, in his retirement and with the wonderful help of Turkish Muslim students from the University of Wisconsin, he developed and taught two classes at Edgewood College to expand students’ understanding of Islamic beliefs and practices. Dialogue between class members and their Turkish Muslim conversation partners was a major feature of both The Challenge of Islam and Christian Muslim Interfaith Dialogue classes.

Last, but not least, Jim was our beloved Husband, Dad, and Morfar (“mother’s father” – “grandfather” in Swedish). He had a quiet, unassuming, trustworthy personality. There was nothing pretentious about him. He was not a patriarch but rather a partner and facilitator encouraging each of us to develop and follow our calling. Together we had many wonderful cultural encounters of all types, hiking tours in our nation’s mountains and forests, and trips to countries far away, where we marveled at the beauty and traditions of other peoples in other places. There were also Wagner opera trips to Chicago, family vacations and dinners with kids and grandkids, and the companionship of co-leading Sunday School classes and social justice projects at Monona United Methodist Church.

It is strange and unreal that Jim’s journey is now finished. We trust that God’s spirit, which guided Jim through life, was with him to the end and beyond. We, his family, pray that God will heal our sadness and help us rejoice in our memories of our journeying together.

Jim is being laid to rest at Natural Path Sanctuary, a green cemetery in Verona, WI. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Memorials may be given to the donor’s favorite charity or the Preacher’s Aid Society and Benefit Fund of the Illinois Great Rivers United Methodist Conference https://igrc-reg.brtapp.com/GivetoPASBF. Monona United Methodist Church, Monona, WI www.mononaunitedmethodistchurch.org, or the MacMurray Alumni Foundation, Jacksonville, IL www.macalumfoundation.org.

Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com