The Very Reverend James McKay CMG OBE



Mr Chancellor, 

'Flynn of the Inland' is a folk hero in Australia. This evening we have with us a man who worked with the Reverend Dr John Flynn during the transfer of the Australian Inland Mission's Aerial Medical Service and Pedal Wireless Network to the new national organisation, the Royal Flying Doctor Service in 1936-9. When Flynn died, he became his successor as Superintendent of the Mission, a post he held from 1951 to 1973. 

James Frederick McKay was educated at Thornburgh College, Charters Towers, and The University of Queensland. A member of Emmanuel College, he was graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1931 and was awarded a blue for swimming. He intended to continue his education in Edinburgh, but was captivated by the work of Flynn of the Inland and became a Boundary Rider or Patrol Padre for the Australian Inland Mission. After six years work in the west of Queensland he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1935. 

During the 1939-45 war, he served as Chaplain with the Royal Australian Air Force, rising to the rank of Wing Commander. His duties took him to the Middle East, North Africa, Italy, and the United Kingdom. 

On demobilisation be became Parish Minister in Toowong, and took the opportunity to complete a Master of Arts at this University. But the missionary call of the outback once again found a ready response in Fred McKay and he succeeded Flynn in 1951. During this period of service with the Inland Mission he pioneered work in the new mining towns of Western Australia and extended the work into new areas of education and social work. 

State and national church organisations also claimed him, with his appointment as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales in 1965 and Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia from 1970 to 1973. In what might loosely be called his 'retirement', he became Associate Minister of St Stephen's Church, Macquarie Street, Sydney. 

Granted his long association with the ecumenical movement, it was natural that even in retirement he should play a major role in the formation of the Uniting Church in Australia. The process of bringing Presbyterians into union with Methodists and Congregationalists culminated in the inauguration of the Uniting Church in 1977. 

Fred McKay's great work in the inland and in the cities was recognised by his being created first a Member (in 1952) and later an Officer (1965) in the Order of the British Empire and a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (in 1972). He received the Sydney Rotary Vocational Award iri 1971. 

Mr Chancellor, for his long and faithful service to the people of inland Australia, his leadership in the Presbyterian Church and the Uniting Church in Australia, and his distinguished ministry in peace and war, I present to you The Very Reverend James Frederick McKay, Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, Officer of the Order of the British Empire, Master of Arts of The University of Queensland, Bachelor of Divinity of the Melbourne College of Divinity, for conferral of the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, to which he has been admitted by the Senate of the University. 


Doctor of Laws honoris causa