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Gordon Harland was born near Treherne, Manitoba on December 27, 1920. He received a B.A. from the University of Manitoba in 1942 and a Bachelor of Divinity from United College in 1945. He taught church history at United College from 1946 to 1955 before starting the Ph.D. program at Drew University in New Jersey in the fall of 1955. Harland taught at Drew University while doing course work to complete his doctorate. Harland successfully completed his doctorate in 1959. He left Drew University in 1968 to found the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Manitoba. He would remain at the University of Manitoba for three years before joining the faculty at Penn State University. He returned to the University of Manitoba in 1973 and was made a Professor Emeritius upon his retirement in 1992.
Harland received a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Winnipeg in 1976 and one from Queen's University in 1989. He was the first occupant of the Chair of Christian Thought at the University of Calgary in 1987. He is the author of three books: The Thought of Reinhold Niebuhr (1960), Christian Faith & Society (1988), and co-author of Religious Studies in Manitoba & Saskatchewan (1993), as well as numerous articles. Harland combined the roles of preaching and teaching. He preached at several churches and was a sought after speaker, lecturing all over North America. Harland died on December 2003.