The Rev. Kaji Spellman Douša is Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan “The Park”. In the congregation’s 206 years, she is the first woman called to this role. She is one of very few young woman senior leaders of important historic pulpits in the country. The Park is known as a congregation of fearless activism in New York City.
About her public witness, Kaji says: “I’m realizing that it’s time for the church to repent. We’ve let the name of Jesus get away from us, get misused, twisted and turned into something unrecognizable by the Religious Right. In the meantime, how many generations of people are being harmed by oppressive teachings from church? All because those of us who knew better have been too afraid to stand up, or we’ve been ineffective in spreading a message of liberation. That day is over. There are lives at stake, for God’s sake.”
"This is my work, it is how I spend every day: reminding the church of the vision God has for us, asking for God’s help in clarifying that vision, injecting hope in places where the shadows have overcome."
“In a world of growing anger, we need to rediscover a little beauty, a generous measure of hope and a lot of love. Church gives people a chance to step aside from the noise of the city so that we can heal the mind and spirit and arise ready to serve and change the world.”
Kaji served as Senior Minister of “The Table”, United Church of Christ La Mesa just outside of San Diego, CA. She served Plymouth Church in Minneapolis as sabbatical minister. Additionally, she has served Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York City, was a pastoral resident at the Village Church in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and associate pastor at the First Congregational Church of Darien. She was a chapel minister at Yale Divinity School’s Marquand Chapel. She was elected to the Alumni Board for Yale Divinity School. A prolific writer, Kaji is on the editorial board for the United Church of Christ’s Still speaking Writer’s Group.
Kaji is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and of Yale University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude and a Master of Divinity degree. At Yale, she concentrated on liturgical arts while enrolled at the Institute of Sacred Music, and was named Louise H. MacLean Scholar of Liturgical Studies. She won Commencement Prizes for Excellence in Preaching and Excellence in Liturgical Scholarship and Innovation.
Pastor Kaji is a prolific writer and a celebrated and awarded public speaker. She preaches nearly every Sunday at The Park and is invited as a keynote speaker across the country. Her often fiery media appearances reflect her deep thinking, faithful perspective and quick wit.
Before entering the ministry, Kaji developed new products for a large financial services company on Wall Street. She also has a political background, having managed and staffed several successful campaigns.