The Chair of Christian Thought was initiated in 1980 with a fund-raising goal of $350,000. The original vision was to bring to Calgary and its University renowned scholars in the field of Christian thought who would then impart the results of their research to the university and larger Christian community. Thanks to leadership from Louis Lebel the project reached its goal in June 1985. This was partially matched with an Alberta government grant from Albert Advanced Education and Career Development.
The first holder of the Chair was Prof. Gordon Harland, who held the position from September 1986 to April 1987. Professor Alan Sell was appointed Chair from January 1988 to December 1992. As of October 1991 the endowed base was $828,250 with an expenditure allocation of $41,408 for 1992-93. As a result, from 1993 to1998 a portion of the allocation was used to hire instructors to teach courses in Christian studies at the University of Calgary, as well as to bring in four highly qualified instructors for time intensive seminars in some area of Christian Thought. These four were Prof. Grace Jantzen of the University of Manchester, Prof. Janet Soskice of Cambridge University, Prof. Julius Lipner of Cambridge University, and Prof. Ursula King of Bristol University.
A generous donation of $150,000 towards the Chair, and the growth of the endowment, made it possible to make a Chair appointment once again at the Associate Professor level. Prof. Douglas Shantz was appointed to the Chair in September 1999 for a five-year renewable term. He has just completed his second term, and has been reappointed for a third five year term.