Church committee recommends defrocking popular minister at West Hill United Church in Scarborough
Gretta Vosper, the popular and controversial United Church of Canada minister who calls herself an atheist, should no longer be a minister, a review committee has recommended. “In our opinion, she is not suitable to continue in ordained ministry because she does not believe in God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit,” the church’s Toronto Conference Review Committee concluded in a 39-page report released Wednesday. “We have concluded that if Gretta Vosper were before us today, seeking to be ordained,” said the report, the committee “would not recommend her.” “After prayer and much discussion,” the 23-person committee voted 19 to 4 in favour of a motion that found Vosper “unsuitable to continue serving.” Vosper, 57, a minister at West Hill United Church in Scarborough for nearly two decades, does not believe in an interventionist, supernatural God. She preaches instead about love, kindness and human connection.The Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell, Moderator, The United Church of Canada: On Being an Open and Inclusive Community that Believes in God
Following the example of Jesus, we seek to be an open and inclusive community that welcomes everyone, regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey. We celebrate the fact that our churches can be places where all are welcome and all belong, no matter what you do or don’t believe. But many people have different expectations of those in ministry leadership who have committed to teach and to preach the faith tradition of the church and preside at the sacraments. The idea that an atheist would be serving as a minister of a United Church congregation leaves them scratching their heads. For some this is simply a natural extension of our commitment to be an open, inclusive, and questioning church. For others it is a violation of the covenant entered into by an ordered minister at ordination or commissioning. Like so many important issues in our church, there are many points of view. It is not for me to defend or critique the Toronto Conference sub-Executive decision. Good and faithful members of the United Church made this decision prayerfully and faithfully. It was their decision to make. Like all difficult decisions, not everyone will agree with the choice they made. I will also not be commenting on Ms. Vosper’s ministry. This is not something that as Moderator I believe is appropriate to do, particularly when this matter is still before the church’s courts. What I do want to say as Moderator is the diversity in our church has been and will continue to be a source of strength, so long as we do not allow our differences to divide us. It is good that we feel so deeply about this issue—that speaks to the high importance we place on our faith and our faith communities. This conversation is not over; perhaps it has just begun. We need to ensure that our churches are safe places where we can have honest, frank, and non-judgmental conversations about what we believe and what we expect of our spiritual leaders. To do this, we must speak together in an attitude of love and care for one another and for the church. And we must resist the urge to dismiss or vilify those with whom we disagree. Let us speak and listen to one another with compassion and humility, seeking to understand even when we can’t agree. This is what it means to be an open and inclusive community that believes in the God of love and seeks to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.Comment: I was going to say something snarky about Rev Cantell growing some gonads but it's obvious that she won't / can't. A backbone perhaps!?