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Atheist minister Gretta Vosper hopes to stay at Canadian church for the long haul

The Rev. Gretta Vosper is an atheist pastor for the United Church of Canada. Video screenshot

(RNS) — Gretta Vosper is surprised to still be a minister.

In 2013,  she told her congregation that she was an atheist. That led to calls by denominational leaders for her to be fired.

After about five years of divisive discussion and debate, the United Church of Canada has decided to let Vosper remain as a pastor.

“I was very surprised,” she said. “I was totally convinced … I would end up outside of the church. Every indication suggested that’s what was going to happen.”

The unexpected decision was made in November, just prior to a formal hearing to determine her suitability to be a member of the clergy in Canada’s largest Protestant denomination. That hearing was canceled after the two sides reached a settlement.

Vosper’s troubles began in 2013 when she publicly declared herself an atheist, despite serving as minister at West Hill United Church in Toronto since 1997.

Things came to a head in 2015 when she issued a public letter denouncing the “existence of a supernatural being whose purposes can be divined and which, once interpreted and without mercy, must be brought about within the human community in the name of that being.”

In 2016, the Toronto Conference — to which her church belongs — conducted a review that found Vosper “not suitable” to continue as a minister because she was no longer in “essential agreement” with the denomination’s statement of doctrine.

The conference also found she was “unwilling and unable” to reaffirm the vows she made when she was ordained in 1993. Conference leaders asked the General Council, the denomination’s top governing body, to conduct a hearing on Vosper’s status.

The Rev. Gretta Vosper is an ordained United Church of Canada minister who believes in neither God nor the Bible. Photo courtesy of Gretta Vosper

But before that hearing took place, the Toronto Conference and Vosper reached a settlement on Nov. 7 to let her keep her job.

In a brief joint statement, the Toronto Conference, Vosper and West Hill Church said the parties had “settled all outstanding issues between them.”

Terms of the settlement are being kept confidential.

The United Church declined to comment on the settlement.

In an open letter to the denomination, the Rt. Rev. Richard Bott said that there are “a variety of feelings” about Vosper’s ministry. Quoting a previous moderator, he said that the church was struggling with two core values “which are central to our identity.”

The first “is our faith in God,” wrote Bott. “The second is our commitment to being an open and inclusive church.”

The decision about Vosper reveals “the dance between these core values” and “how they interact with and inform each other,” he added.

Vosper said she was unable to discuss the settlement due to signing a nondisclosure agreement. Still, she said, “there’s nothing in that that influences what I am able to do. I am able to function in ministry with all the rights and privileges that clergy have.”

She isn’t sure why the church decided to settle but suspects one reason might have been to avoid ongoing negative media attention over the issue.

Vosper also thinks it was because church officials realized she wasn’t about to give up.

“It may have been simply that the church had been betting on my backing down because of the financial burden,” she said. Vosper said she’d run up more than $200,000 in legal bills.

A fundraising group called the Friends of Gretta Vosper has raised about $80,000 of that total, and she and her husband have paid the rest, said Vosper.

Vosper was willing to go through with the hearing even if the ruling went against her. She said she is fit for ministry in the church.

She said she believes what she was taught in seminary.

“Everything I teach is consistent with the theological training I received,” the 60-year-old said. “I was taught the Bible was a human construction, and there is much wisdom in many texts, both ancient and contemporary.”

During her studies, Vosper said she learned that the Bible isn’t the only source of spiritual or moral authority.

“If the Bible is not the authoritative word of God for all time,” she says, “why does it take such a central position in the United Church?”

Despite all that has happened, Vosper said she is still committed to being a minister in the United Church.

She loves her congregation. And the United Church is still her home, despite her disagreements with denominational leaders.

“I still feel that this is my denomination,” she said. “This is my heritage, and to refuse to allow me to participate and continue in ministry felt like a betrayal.”

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John Longhurst

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  • Her experience is exactly as God has preordained. By all means she is staying right where God has positioned her. This is in order to fulfill the written Word. The scripture is like a time released fertilizer; mankind gets his understanding altered, only when our Father in Heaven determines the time is right.

    Read the Book again in the Light of the time we have entered. There are six times, six generations, six days for man, on the seventh we rest. One Testator updating His will and testament as time goes by. The building that Vosper inhabits is no longer in use in the sixth Day.

    Vosper is a minister of things to come: the Sixth Day.

  • If their intention in settling was to “to avoid ongoing negative media attention over the issue,” I can’t imagine this is going to do the trick.

    My question is, what does she say in the pulpit on Sundays?

  • She could easily leave the denomination that she has intentionally deceived and become an ‘atheist minister’ all on her own, but of course, she wouldn’t have the same institutional structure and support underneath her. She’s a parasite, plain and simple, as all leftists are.

  • The conference also found she was “unwilling and unable” to reaffirm the vows she made when she was ordained in 1993.

    That, it seems to me, is the crux of the issue. She took a public vow on the day of her ordination that she can longer in good conscience keep. Therefore the Toronto Conference should have voted to remove her from active ministry. But then, I know nothing about UCC polity and no one knows anything about the terms of the settlement since the Toronto Conference isn’t saying. Any commentary about this case is therefore mostly speculative.

  • We should consider that large numbers of ministers end up as resigned atheists (aka burnout), due to their life-long collection of “experiences” with their institutions and the people in them. Most of them cannot escape learning that their ministry, if good, amounts to practiced secular counseling of their groups and the individuals therein. Some of them cannot escape the realization that they have been “hard preaching” stuff they never really believed or lived.
    But, using the A-word is not the way to go unless ministering in some outlier organization such as the (hypothetical) Church of Atheism. It is quite possible to understand correctly that the Bible is full of stuff we are supposed to not revere but rather be saved from, but “Atheist” comes across as no Jesus either. That’s a recipe for a mess in any Christian church..

  • This has been ongoing. Her congregation supported her so the conference leaders were between a rock and a hard place.

  • She’s basically now a cult leader. She says there is no ultimate moral law giver, but remains in a position of power to pass down her own moral law.

  • …..The first “is our faith in God,” wrote Bott. “The second is our commitment to being an open and inclusive church.”

    So the Reverend decided that the second principle outweighed the first… got it. That’s why they decided to keep an atheist on the pulpit; one who is surprised to be there.

    Again, we the faithful are doomed.

  • She makes about as much sense as an executive at General Motors who will only own and drive a Japanese car.

  • She’s hoping to stay in the I love steve club though she’s made it clear she doesn’t love steve.

  • She has no business being a minister. She made vows to teach the faith that she cannot keep. It would be like a teacher keeping their job after refusing to teach, or a doctor keeping a position on surgical staff while refusing to do surgery.

    The United Church of Canada is in a weird way.

  • I suspect that she preaches what she says, that the Bible is full of wisdom, that there are other texts also full of wisdom, …I suspect she figured out that what really matters, isn’t whether a person believe in a God but how they behave towards their fellow man AND that I suspect is what she will be teaching.

  • It doesn’t necessarily mean no Jesus. I suspect she has a greater respect for Jesus , the real man and his teachings than many Christians do!

  • More power to her. Finally an honest minister! I suspect that the world is full of ministers that never had the courage to speak honestly and openly. Religion is more than just a pretended belief in a pretend God. I suspect she has come to realize what really matters in this world, NOT whether someone believes or doesn’t believe in a God, BUT how they treat their fellow humans, and other living things, and our planet and themselves. All the doctrines and dogmas are distractions that lead people astray!

  • Perhaps. I don’t know her, of course, but I do not believe the “atheist” word works well as a tool of communication. I would rather hear people use a word which describes what they do believe in than use a word designed to describe what they don’t believe in.

    “Christian’ is supposed to be a word describing the spirit of what you said above.

  • The word Atheist is an honest word, it means a belief that God doesn’t exist. There isn’t any other word to substitute for it. It does however carry negative baggage for some folk! But obviously not for the members of her congregation! I admire her honesty, for not beating around the bush, for her directness, for not pretending to be something she is not, for signs of her “spiritual” maturity!

  • The “negative baggage” is the reason why I cannot imagine any kind of minister using it. Even if her own congregation accepts her, the potential for driving others away is the problem. An atheist like say Stalin? “Oh, of course not”, some will say. Well, then WHAT kind?
    I would far rather she had made up a new word to explain her exact style of ministry—-and then explained it.

  • I agree there is plenty of wisdom found in other texts, but there’s no getting around the fact that Christians believe the Bible is not just any other text. Part of the job description of a pastor of a Christian church is to preach the Bible as the Word of God. If she doesn’t believe there is a God, how can she do that?

    But, hey, if she still wants the gig and the congregation still wants her, that’s fine with me.

  • For crying out loud in the wilderness, U.C.C. – FIRE HER ALREADY, MAN!

    Otherwise, HOW & WHY can “Gretta Vosper [remain] an atheist pastor for the United Church of Canada” whose “Faith Statements are Anti-Atheism?! READ & WEEP:

    (1) “A New Creed” (1968): ” We believe … God … has created and is creating, … has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, [and] works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust in God. … In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.”

    (2) “A Statement of Faith” (1940): “We believe that God, as sovereign Lord exalted above the world, orders and overrules all things in it to the accomplishment of His holy, wise, and good purposes.”

    (3) “Twenty Articles of Doctrine” (1925): “We believe in the one only living and true God … We worship Him”.

  • I know a WW2 veteran who fought the Japs in hand-to-hand combat in the Pacific.
    You didn’t dare park a Japanese car in his driveway….

  • It must not be as “honest” as you claim since a good number of commenters who believe they’re atheists describe what is ordinarily called agnosticism.

  • FOR YOUR INSULT TO INTELLIGENCE:

    “The Clergy Project is … a pathetic portrait of the desperation of many atheist and secularist groups. They are thrilled to parade a few trophies of unbelief, but do they really believe that these examples are serving their cause? … The Clergy Project is a magnet for charlatans and cowards who, by their own admission, openly lie to their congregations, hide behind beliefs they do not hold, make common cause with atheists, and still retain their positions and salaries. Is this how atheists and secularists groups intend to further their cause? … The Clergy Project [is] a toothless tiger that will attract media attention, and that is about all.”
    – R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Atheists in the Pulpit — The Sad Charade of the Clergy Project”, August 29, 2012.

  • TORONTO JOURNALIST & SOUTHERN BAPTIST IN AGREEMENT: Imagine That.

    (1) “Gretta Vosper … promotes the rigidly secular, the gospel of get-God-out. Which is stunningly oxymoronic for a church. … To strip faith out of doctrine, to go God-less (or godless) is intrinsically, profanely sacrilegious and anti-spiritual. … How can an individual, a minister, wrap herself in the mantle of a formal church while simultaneously repudiating its ethos? … When you take the God out of religion, as Vosper has done, then you are innately irreligious. Doesn’t make you a bad person but definitely makes you a subversive outlier within the hierarchy of church and theology. Or Vosper could have found a more amenable place in the Unitarian Church, which is post-theist and professes no creed.”

    (2) “Unbelieving pastors [are] a curse upon the church. They prey upon the faith and the faithful. … If they will not remove themselves from the ministry, they must be removed. If they lack the integrity to resign their pulpits, the churches must muster the integrity to eject them. If they will not ‘out’ themselves, it is the duty of faithful Christians to ‘out’ them.”

    Source: (1) Rosie DiManno, “By swallowing its opposition to the minister who doesn’t believe in God, the United Church shows just how irrelevant it is”, Toronto Star, November 11, 2018. (2) R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Preachers Who Don’t Believe — The Scandal of Apostate Pastors”, March 18, 2010.

  • Why should she make up a new word? Because you are uncomfortable with accepting that Atheists can be good people? AND they should as should religious folk be judged by the content of their character NOT by whether they are believers are not believers.

  • I’m actually on the same side as you. OF COURSE there are large numbers of good people who are Atheists, and I do not have anything “judgmental” to say about them. But this is a lady continuing to minister in a church that is not an Atheist denomination. There is something weird about her choice of words, since she is not one of those who started her own church and wrote her own doctrine for it. It strikes me as confrontational to the denomination she has been with and something she can only get away with due to the loyalty of some of her congregants.

  • Bruce, the scripture she is displaying is:
    “21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

  • Rock, that assembly gave up on Christ a long time ago. I think it was in the 70’s they walked away from him. The fact that they let that woman speak is just another example of their heresy

  • Of course she is deceiving people. If she calls herself a “church” she is misleading people from the front door

  • I would say that she only loves herself and gives the gospel of whatever her name is, to unsuspecting people.
    She has made herself an idol

  • This is their statement of faith Hp:

    To join the United Church, members are asked to profess their faith in the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and to commit themselves to faithful conduct in the church and in the world. Accepting the Bible as the shared standard for our faith, members are not required to adhere to any particular creed or formulation of doctrine.

    With the Church through the ages,
    we speak of God as one and triune:
    Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
    We also speak of God a
    Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer
    God, Christ, and Spirit
    Mother, Friend, and Comforter
    Source of Life, Living Word, and Bond of Love,
    and in other ways that speak faithfully of
    the One on whom our hearts rely,
    the fully shared life at the heart of the universe. (A Song of Faith)

    United Church ministers, in addition, are required to be in “essential agreement” with the four statements of faith found in the Doctrine section of The Basis of Union.

    As members of one body of Christ, the United Church acknowledges our Reformation (Protestant) heritage and the teaching of the creeds of the ancient church, particularly the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. Our membership in the World Council of Churches links us to a fellowship of churches that confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures.

    The Risen Christ lives today,
    present to us and the source of our hope.
    In response to who Jesus was
    and to all he did and taught,
    to his life, death, and resurrection,
    and to his continuing presence with us through the Spirit,
    we celebrate him as
    the Word made flesh,
    the one in whom God and humanity are perfectly joined,
    the transformation of our lives,
    the Christ. (A Song of Faith)

    They preach to itching ears.

  • What did our Lord say – something about the leaven leavening the entire doughy thingy? Perish the thought that the Wesley Bros. founded this United Church of Canada!

    Chin up! Our Redemption draweth nigh!

  • And you should do your input thingy at their Patheos Nonreligious Blog called “Rational Doubt: With Voices from the Clergy Project”, as I’ve done from time to time. Just to prove R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is right on, spot on, bang on, about them!

  • “The Ex-gay Project is … a pathetic portrait of the desperation of many anti-gay and religionist groups. They are thrilled to parade a few trophies of “former homosexuals”, but do they really believe that these examples are serving their cause? … The Ex-gayProject is a magnet for charlatans and cowards who, by their own admission, openly lie to themselves, their puppetmasters, their congregations and families, hide behind beliefs they do not hold, make common cause with bigots, and still retain their positions and salaries. Is this how anti-gay and religionist groups intend to further their cause? … The Anti-gayProject [is] a toothless tiger that will attract media attention, and that is about all.”
    SEE HOW EASY IT IS?

  • What did the UCC do in the 70s that makes you think the entire denomination walked away from God?

  • Accept it is her particular church that wants her to stay. Doesn’t that mean anything? Perhaps it means that most of her church members have moved beyond their need for God to a higher level of spirituality and understanding. Sure that particular church may lose some members but it might also gain some who are looking for a group/church such as hers.

  • Sorry Davd, wrong decade there…..

    On August 17, 1980, a United Church of Canada task force released In God’s Image, its report on sexual ethics which recommended the admission of homosexuals into the ministry and tolerance of premarital sex. Although the report accepted abortion under qualified circumstances, it rejected abortion on demand.[22]
    The year that satan took the assembly over

  • Yes, that ABSOLUTELY means something. It means that her congregants love her, which is often the case with clergypersons who stay in one place for a long time. Please don’t think that I am in all that much disagreement with either you or this pastor. I would be interested in knowing what she preaches, week to week. I would also be interested in knowing what was in her confidential “settlement” with the denomination.

    Having one’s ministry credentialed by and affiliated with an organization’s doctrine is a tricky business. How they came to this “uneasy peace” with her still retaining the rights and privileges of clergy in the denominational name when she denounces its doctrine is a curious matter. It may be more the province of dueling lawyers than we think.

    In general, though, I still don’t like the word “atheist” for its negative connotation that there is no savior, no Holy Spirit “helper”, no particular direction to send a prayer. Certainly we know that some of the claims for and about “God” in the Bible fall on the spectrum from unlikely to impossible. But most Protestantism involves a trinity concept and we are not being told here how she parses a downplay of 1/3 without damaging the other 2/3. This is why I wish she had some new words.

  • And very soon, it will be the American Methodist Church’s turn to Burn-Up in Hades’ Microwave, if THEY try to get cute and cast the wrong ballot later this month!!!

  • I think I’d rather listen to YOUR atheistic sales-pitch than HERS, honestly. At least you don’t sound like you’re smoking Magic Mushrooms on top of Rat Poison.

  • Actually, the ex-homosexual achievement is very real. Christ taught, “And such were some of you” discussing ex-drunks, ex-homosexuals, and basically ex-idolators,” so it is possible to leave the immorality in a positive manner.
    Christ cleanses us of our sin.

  • pretty sad when even a church admits that homosexuals cannot abstain and need to allow premarital sex

  • Nope, no “see”, no can do. But what would make me “SEE HOW EASY IT IS”, i.e. in terms of your proposed scenario, is if this RNS article’s headline had read in any of the following:

    (1) “[LGBT] minister [Ed Buck] hopes to stay at Canadian church for the long haul”

    (2) “[Gay] minister [Kevin Spacey] hopes to stay at Canadian church for the long haul”

    (3) “[LGBT] minister [Terry Bean] hopes to stay at Canadian church for the long haul”

    (4) “[Gay] minister [Ed Murray] hopes to stay at Canadian church for the long haul”.

    HINT: A criminal element has first to be involved. Gretta Vosper, however, has committed no crime.

  • If you call my thinking like Ashiests & Eggnogshticks from the inside to outthink ’em “Fairy Dust”, FINE FINE FINE.

  • In the 80s there were no options for legal marriage for same sex couples. It wasn’t about not being able to abstain. It was an accommodation within the Church because there was no recognition within the civil law. The Church has made accommodation for spiritual marriages in the absence of civil recognition throughout its history. Such as the marriages of African American slaves in the 19th Century who jumped over broomsticks to solemnize marriages.

  • >>Gretta Vosper said she’d run up more than $200,000 in legal bills.<>During her studies, Vosper said she learned that the Bible isn’t the only source of spiritual or moral authority.<<

    If she is referencing Judaism, Christianity stands on top of that foundation with the revealed Messiah
    If Gretta is referencing other religions they are essentially self help, their seers imparting spiritual and moral authority; but not making the type of claims Jesus did; buttressed by miracles to include those of his disciples happening even to the present hour; giving credibility that Jesus Christ's spiritual and moral authority is at top of the scale.

  • So why would homosexuals need sex more than single Christians – that is what they were saying. Fornication is not allowed for anyone. Satan got a seat in that “church”.

  • Why do any couples need sex? There is much more to it than just having kids in human beings. Sexual intimacy is healthy for a couples relationship and a physical expression of the spiritual bond they feel for one another.

    Why would you and your husband need sex more than single Christians?

    Why do you only view a same sex couple’s relationship in sexual terms? Same sex couples lives together is so much more, equal to that of an opposite sex couple!

  • I too would like to hear more about what she thinks and read her sermons!

    I am an Atheist and so I might be looking at this from a very different perspective than you! In my mind there is no savior, no Holy Spirit “helper”, no need for prayer.

    Universalist Unitarians long ago dropped the requirement to believe in a God–though the last time I attended a formal UU service God and prayer was part of it. I imagine that she has moved to a place similar to theirs.

    Then there is the concept that “God” is simply the word we use to describe the good side of human nature as the Devil is the word used to describe the not so good side of human nature. Both reside within us. One can read the Bible in this light and understand that what matters is nurturing the good/Godly side of our natures and by doing so we bring about “Gods” kingdom on earth. God resides within us and is not separate from us. This is something Eastern religions/spiritualists have grasped AND it is something that Christians failed to grasp thus creating the “death” of God as Nietzsche said!

  • So you’re a secular humanist, just like Vosper. Congratulations. Start your own moral improvement society, or political party, or whatever. Atheists seeking to pastor a Christian church are, in fact, as dishonest as one gets, as her refusal to abide by her ordination vows demonstrates.

  • I’ve been on the side of diluting the meaning and purpose of the Bible to the Golden Rule for some time. Not to change the subject, but here is a demo song arrangement for a sheet music company that I was otherwise listening to on the Internet this morning. It’s not churchy and is a fire lighter if you were ever in a high school choir. Enjoy:
    https://youtu.be/ggEGnGJHfZM

  • You don’t think the members of her church have the right to keep her on if they want to?

    She may or may not be a secular humanist, she called herself an Atheist not a secular humanist. Humanism generally sees human beings as the measure of all things. I am an Atheist and don’t accept that, many animal and even insect species have advantages that we don’t have!

    You are just concerned that she might be a movement towards a broader understanding of what really matters in this life and that others may follow her lead. We could be so lucky!

  • I think those objecting to what this pastor has done are simply afraid that she may be the start of a movement away from “God” towards a broader and deeper, more enlightened and advanced and spiritual understanding of what really matters in this life and in the process emphasizing the many ways Christianity is a failed religion!

  • Not if they want to be part of the United Church of Canada, no. If they want to be part of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, they would be welcome to do so.

    Institutions, like individuals, should have some measure of integrity. A church that says it believes in the Holy Trinity, but employs an atheist as a pastor, has no integrity. And an atheist who takes a salary from a Christian church, repudiating her ordination vows and rejecting what the institution stands for, has none either. If she thinks she has a “broader understanding of what really matters,” she can start an organization that advocates that. You could do that as well. But seeking to use the resources of an organization–in this case, the UCC, whose name she has attached to her contrary views–is the height of dishonesty.

  • If you don’t know the answers to those questions – I guess you wouldn’t because you are not married and two same halves of a couple do not make one whole couplel – so you may never understand, David.

  • Did you know that Been and his s/s lover were charged with sexually assaulting a 15 year old boy. The tried to pay him off but the courts wouldn’t allow it, but soon after, the boy refused to testify.

  • Two same sex folks do make a complete couple, they aren’t two halves. But since that isn’t your experience, you wouldn’t know for one, and you don’t have an opinion that means anything for two. You choose not to understand.

  • Quoting a previous moderator, he said that the church was struggling with two core values “which are central to our identity.”

    The first “is our faith in God,” wrote Bott.

    Hmmm…how is “God” defined? Bott doesn’t say.

    Things came to a head in 2015 when she issued a public letter denouncing the “existence of a supernatural being whose purposes can be divined and which, once interpreted and without mercy, must be brought about within the human community in the name of that being.”

    This seems consistent with Jesus, who never used the phrase “a supernatural being” when describing “God”.

  • Any movement away from God, who is “the light of the world” (John 12:18) is perforce a movement toward darkness and away from a “more enlightened and advanced and spiritual understanding of what really matters in life”.

  • 1 Corinthians 7:2 New International Version (NIV)

    2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.

    I understand.

  • An edit of “I think those objecting to what this pastor has done are simply afraid
    that she may be the start of a movement away from God towards …” to “I hope those endorsing what this pastor has done are hoping as I am
    that she may be the start of a movement away from God towards what I believe.” would probably pass the fact checkers.

    As it stands it’s just thinly disguised slam against those who disagree with her, and thus you.

  • Oh the Terry Bean in Portland in my reply to Ben in Oakland. I thought you were referring to … Oh never mind … my bad … sorry Sis

  • “The Lord our God is one Lord … [and] the only true God … No one is good except God alone.” That’s how Jesus described God (in Mark 12:29, John 17:3 and Luke 18:19). Gretta Vosper begs to differ, so do you.

  • In a world where girls can be boy scouts, why not allow an atheist to serve as minister in a church, claiming to serve God?
    If a white person can claim subsidies based on the argument that she feels black, why not allow an atheist proclaim a God-less message of redemption?
    In a world where a boy can claim to feel like a woman, and win wrestling message in a women’s competition. why not allow an atheist to make a mockery of a crucified and risen Christ?
    If ms. Vosper has the courage of her convictions, she would leave the ministry. But the legal actions make me doubt she would have that courage.

  • Ms. Vosper knew that she had been in the church long enough to water down any remaining vestige of all things Christ and Christian. The bible she denounces assigns her the title of heretic—-no wonder she denies its authority.

    First mistake and open door to heresy–women in the position/office of Elder.
    Second: Eve and the serpent play together again.

    “Please put up with a little of my foolishness. I am as concerned about you as God is. You were like a virgin bride I had chosen only for Christ. But now I fear that you will be tricked, just as Eve was tricked by that lying snake. I am afraid that you might stop thinking about Christ in an honest and sincere way.” (II Corinthians 11:1-3)

    She is a person who reveals her lack of integrity. If she were chair of the Lions Club or Pilots, Exchange or any other social organization, yet denied their charter, purpose and work in the world, how long would she remain? That is correct. These clubs will do what this impotent church congregation will not. Kick her buns out!

    Suppose she were chair of the Democratic party in the USA, yet denied all that it stands for and seeks to practice? (this sounds like many Democrats leaving the party for socialism) she is out of there.

    If she were to serve “at the pleasure of the President”, yet deny any loyalty to the office, how long would she remain?

    She is either for Christ or against Him.

    Her little charade is certainly nothing new. Neither is the whimpified congregation.

    “I am shocked that you have so quickly turned from God, who chose you because of his wonderful kindness.[a] You have believed another message, 7 when there is really only one true message. But some people are causing you trouble and want to make you turn away from the good news about Christ. 8 I pray that God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from our message to you! It doesn’t matter if that person is one of us or an angel from heaven. I have said it before, and I will say it again. I hope God will punish anyone who preaches anything different from what you have already believed. I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-10)

    Wake up little Canadian church–you have become a disciple of an enemy of the Gospel!

  • Obviously the United Church of Canada is more advanced than you are! They are showing great integrity in this situation! Perhaps what we are witnessing is a change in the thinking of the United Church of Canada, a recognition of what is and is NOT important!

  • “More advanced than you are.” Well, I tried to be civil and stick to the subject in this conversation, but I see that like so many atheists, your sense of superiority has come out to make clear you think you are dealing with rubes. Sorry if you can’t understand a simple argument, because your blindingly advanced intellect gets in the way. Further discussion is obviously pointless. BLOCKED

  • Yes, they are more advanced than you are! They can handle the change. You can’t! The world is changing and as I said perhaps we are witnessing a change in the United Church of Canada, a recognition of what is and is NOT important.

  • It looks like the Toronto Conference has decided that it isn’t a Christian church. Hopefully, its laity will take note.

  • Atheism is not a set of beliefs, it is not a movement. It is simply the absence of belief in the existence of deities. How can this be considered a farce?

  • The settlement itself mentions no reason. I would suggest that “to avoid ongoing negative media attention” is nothing more than conjecture.

  • Probably so, though not very logical conjecture. Avoiding further media attention would be best accomplished by severing ties with her. Had that been done right away, it would now be old news.

  • “Unbelief, however, is rarely ‘on its own.’ As [in The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement, Oxford University Press, 2016, Stephen] LeDrew points out, with the rise of evolutionary theory, atheism ‘moved from simple negation of religious beliefs to an affirmation of liberalism, scientific rationality, and the legitimacy of the institutions and methodology of modern science—and thus from religious criticism to a complete ideological system.’ Atheism, then, is ‘a form of belief—rather than a lack of belief—shaped by its socio-historical context’ and ‘inextricably bound up with’ a plethora of principles that emerged from the Enlightenment.”

    Source: David Hoelscher, “New Atheism, Worse Than You Think”, CounterPunch, January 29, 2016.

  • “There is no God but one: the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Source: (1) Apostle Paul in Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:4; and Ephesians 1:3. (2) Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 1:3.

  • HpO…….thanks for the reference. I’ll definitely try to access it and have a read. From the excerpt you provided and my personal experience it appears to me that the author has conflated atheism and humanism. Most often humanists are in fact atheists, agnostics or non-theists and subscribe to the Humanist Manifesto…..however there is a still a distinction and gap between the two. From what I’ve been able to determine there are few “organized” assemblies of atheists although there have recently been some valiant attempts (Oasis, Sunday Assembly). In addition, they have tended to align more with humanist leanings.

  • Didn’t know that he wrote this:

    “Now I beg all those that listen to this little treatise, or read it, that if there be anything in [The Canterbury Tales] that pleases them, they thank our Lord Jesus Christ for it, from whom proceeds all understanding and goodness.”
    – Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales.

  • I respect your allegiance to the bible as a source of truth…..unfortunately I do not recognize the bible as the authoritative word of god for all time. Faith guides you to accept it. Critical thinking challenges me to deny it. Respectfully.

  • what is the problem you see ?

    the church assembly that hired and has supported and kept gretta vosper sees value in her guidance . i assume that the church you attend see value in your membership and keeps you . the church in canada is not trying to impose their values on you . i pray that you don’t attempt to impose your values on them .

    so what is the problem ?

  • Article 2.3.1.
    The church believes in God.
    It seems that anyone who doesn’t buy into this simple concept should not be in a position of leadership, not in the position to nurture the souls of the faithful; nor even a member.
    That’s the first thing I see that is a problem.

  • Irrelevant.
    It affects the “faithful” in what seems to be a man-centric church.
    Why would you defend a self-proclaimed athiest preaching at a church who’s focus is the belief in God.
    Seems stupid really.

  • how does it affect the faithful ? it doesn’t affect my faith what others do . does it really affect yours?

  • Idk. Maybe you should go to a doctor who really doesn’t believe in saving lives and see how that works out for you.

  • you are working hard to evade the question . i am not going to that church . you, i assume are not going to that church .

    how does the decision of that church assembly in toronto affect you ?

  • Any church who has a heretic at its pulpit is the concern of all believers.
    Based on your logic, why should I care about the war in Syria, or the VA governor and his KKK / blackface photo.

  • Any church who has a heretic at is pulpit is a concern for all believers.
    Based upon your logic/question; why should I care about war in Syria, famine in Africa, murder in Chicago or a VA governor who wears blackface?

  • “Any church who has a heretic….”

    heretic is a broad complaint . traditionally that has been used by many christian sects against one another . ironically the position of jonathan edwards towards heretics gave rise to american freedom of religion . he thought that as most all were heretics and would be going to hell, there was no use for the state to sort them out . it was better to let god to worry later .

    yes . gretta’s views on god and christ as the son of god are heretical to all traditional christianity . yet i still don’t see the substance of your “…at its pulpit is the concern of all believers.”

    a “heretic” at the pulpit of your church would be a matter of concern to you . or my church to me .

    but i don’t see that you or i have a role in this issue other than as distant commentators .

  • your latter sentence in the above comment was ignore as illogical . religious freedom is a totally different question than wars and racism . i think you know that .

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