A few days ago, I mentioned that Gretta Vosper, a reverend for the United Church of Canada who doesn’t believe in God, was in danger of being stripped of her position even though her congregation was 100% on her side. (Her stance isn’t as hypocritical as you may think. The UCC is a very liberal congregation that has long ordained women and LGBT individuals. You could argue that an atheist who supports the community and philosophies of the church is not at all out of line.)
Still, a subcommittee within the church’s leadership called on Vosper to be reviewed with her position hanging in the balance.
While her review is still pending in Toronto, the nearby Hamilton Conference passed a motion over the weekend that, if approved by the General Council at large, would provide protection for other atheist leaders in the church. Not only could open atheists be ordained, it could (according to Vosper) potentially get the UCC removed from the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
It says, in part:
In light of the perception that there is a wide spectrum of theological outlook in our church;
In light of recent events in London and Toronto Conferences relating to how particular ministry personnel publicly express their theological outlook;
Hamilton Conference request the General Council to instruct it’s Theology and Inter-Church Inter-Faith Committee, or other appropriate group, to undertake a broad based and theological review of the Basis of Union part Eleven (11) which deals with the preamble and questions, posed as persons are ordained or commissioned, to ensure their continued relevancy and effectiveness as we move forward in support of our ministry leaders.
So atheists who abide by the church’s rules and broader theological views would be as welcome as anybody else… if this passes.
It also means that if Vosper is kicked out of the ministry, there’s a larger schism hanging in the balance.
Maybe that’s reason enough for the Toronto leaders to reconsider how they handle Vosper’s case.