United Church of Canada Review Committee Recommends Atheist Minister Be Defrocked

Vosper-compressedTORONTO — A review committee with the United Church of Canada has recommended the removal of an ordained minister who identifies as an atheist.

“I don’t believe in … the god called God,” Gretta Vosper told the Globe and Mail last year. “Using the word gets in the way of sharing what I want to share.”

As previously reported, Vosper believes that the Bible is “mythology,” and denies that Jesus is the Son of God.

“God, as the source of goodness, and as the way that goodness comes into the world, and as the promise that everything is going to be good in the end, whether in this lifetime or in the afterlife—that God doesn’t exist anymore,” she states. “We have to recognize that we are only way that good is going to come into this world. We are the definers of what is good. [But] what’s good in one community won’t be good in another.”

Vosper, 57, and who was ordained in 1993, first came out as an atheist in 2001. However, her congregation still supported her until 2008 when she sought to do away with the use of the Lord’s Prayer and lost approximately 100 members of her 150-member congregation.

Last year, Vosper wrote an open letter asserting that a belief in God can compel people to commit evil, referencing the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France.

“That didn’t go over well,” Vosper, who also founded the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity, told reporters. “[But] if we are going to continue to use language that suggests we get our moral authority from a supernatural source, any group that says that can trump any humanistic endeavor.”

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She was soon reported to the United Church of Canada, which launched an investigation into her “effectiveness” as a minister. In May 2015, Nora Sanders, general secretary for the UCC General Council, provided the denomination with standards on which to determine whether Vosper should stay or go.

Attorneys for Vosper filed an appeal of the review, consisting of over 1,600 pages, but in April a denominational committee announced that it had rejected the request.

Now, a review committee has determined that Vosper is unfit to serve as a minister.

“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 Toronto Conference Review Committee wrote on Wednesday. “We have concluded that if Gretta Vosper were before us today, seeking to be ordained, we would not recommend her.”

It then voted 19 to 4 that Vosper is “unsuitable to continue serving.”

However, denominational leaders are giving Vosper and her congregation a chance to reply to their conclusion.

“We’re going to hear from Gretta and her congregation, and it’s possible that they could say something that could cause us to go in a totally different or a slightly different direction,” David Allen, the executive director of the Toronto conference, told the Toronto Star.

“My sadness is for the many clergy and members and individuals currently studying for leadership in the UCC who are now also being told they need to keep quiet about their true beliefs or risk censure,” Vosper also remarked to the outlet. “The majority report said nothing about ethos and spoke exclusively to theological belief. A very sad day for the UCC.”

Vosper’s congregation gave her a standing ovation on Sunday.

A decision is expected in the matter within the week.


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  • Amos Moses

    How is it that she was “frocked” to begin with …………….

    • bowie1

      She probably retained some belief in God at first.

    • http://www.bing.com/ Martin Smit

      As a woman, wearing a frock would come naturally to her, but she’s trying to wear pants instead …

  • bowie1

    Actually the God we serve is named Yahweh. God is what He is, like we are human beings.

  • Hal Slusher

    If you don’t believe in God why are you even in clergy?

    • Amos Moses

      Obviously …. she aint ……..

  • Croquet_Player

    She seems like a nice, honest person, who is unwilling to lie about her personal beliefs but still wants to use her background and experience to help and support people. Good for her.

    • Scott Davenport

      so, she can go work at Canada’s version of the Salvation Army or volunteer at a local Senior center. Or maybe talk to a shrink to see why she’s mad at God…..

      • hytre64✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

        You are right about her volunteering at the local senior center, though.

      • Croquet_Player

        Oh the old “mad at God” trope. Cute. It’s still funny, but it’s not really “Ha ha” funny, you know? Maybe you should get some new material.

    • Amos Moses

      “She seems like a nice, honest person, who is unwilling to lie about her personal beliefs”

      yep ……. and still going to hell and trying to take others with her …….

      • Croquet_Player

        Or not.

        • Amos Moses

          As a non-believer … she has no place else to take them ….. being “a nice, honest person, who is unwilling to lie about her personal beliefs” does not bring anyone to salvation ……….. just to hell ………..

          • Croquet_Player

            As I said, or not.

          • Amos Moses

            Not “or” …….. just “NOT” …………

          • Croquet_Player

            Or not.

    • A.R.

      Given the hateful tone of most of the comments here, I agree with you. I’d rather have someone like her as a minister, who perhaps teaches kindness, forgiveness, and tolerance, than someone who’s a devout believer but teaches divisiveness and anger.

      I imagine she’d feel right at home with the Unitarian Universalists. I wish her well on the next step of her journey.

      • Amos Moses

        ” I’d rather have someone like her as a minister, who perhaps teaches kindness, forgiveness, and tolerance, than someone who’s a devout believer but teaches divisiveness and anger.”

        Itching ears do want that …………

        Christ …. “not” being “devisive” ………… Matthew ….

        10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
        10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
        10:36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
        10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
        10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

        • Sharon Billington

          Indeed. The question is not how do we feel about it, but what God wants. He does not want someone in a position of leadership who does not believe in Him.l

  • ice

    Even though the United Church is very liberal they still have some standards that need to be upheld. If she has skills then she should look for a nonchurch organization/

    • Amos Moses

      She has skills ………….. just not any that have to do with Christ, the church or christianity ………

  • Reason2012

    First mistake: a female pastor.
    Second mistake: denies Christ and they leave her there to continue “preaching”.
    Get out of that church and get into a church that believes the Bible is God’s Word, believes on the Lord Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, and preaches God’s Word.
    It’s that simple.

    2 Timothy 4:1-4 “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

    • Sharon Billington

      God has ordained many female spiritual leaders in scripture. Look it up. You are misinformed.

      • Reason2012

        Hello. Not talking about prophets. God obviously saves women and they can fulfil His purposes as well – but not as preachers in churches, which is what we are specifically talking about.

        1 Corinthians 14:34-35 “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

        1 Timothy 2:11-15 “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

        And now women are telling us God wants women to be pastors of churches when it contradicts God’s Word – more deception.

        If we do not like that God has set it up this way, we need to take it up with God, as what we personally feel on the matter is irrelevant.

        • Sharon Billington

          You obviously miss the context of Paul”s comments, so therefore your false premise leads to a false conclusion. In the references provided, if you read the surrounding verses, you will find Paul addressing a specific congregation and its issues. Naturally, those spiritually immature fellowships should not have had any of those women for spiritual leaders. You do need to explain your broader statements and let us know why Deborah was ordained a judge who oversaw spiritual needs as well as Priscilla, who co-ministered with her husband Aquila and Lydia, who pastored a fellowship in her home. Please understand that it is God who ordains, and He has ordained numerous female spiritual leaders through the centuries, me being one of us. God is spirit, and spirit is neither male nor female. 1 Corinthians 12 has Paul referring to spiritual gifts without referring gender. Note verses 28-30. Again, no gender is mentioned.

          1 Corinthians 12:28-30 (NKJV)
          28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

          • Reason2012

            // In the references provided, if you read the surrounding verses, you will find Paul addressing a specific congregation and its issues. //
            .. reminding them what’s true in all churches:
            – Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
            – And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
            – Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
            And why is that? Not because the women in one church were “immature” as you claim, but “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

            Nowhere does he say “because your women are immature, although they’re allowed to pastor, usurp authority over men, to speak in churches, these women are not because they are ‘immature'” – I would not add to God’s Word what it clearly does not say.

            It’s quite common when we do not want to obey God we twist His
            Word to ignore the parts we do not like, but in the end it’s God we’ll have to convince. It won’t matter how many agree with these anti-Bible teachings, all will be guilty for following it, and more so for teaching those false claims to those who do not know any better.

            // Deborah was ordained a judge who oversaw spiritual needs as well as Priscilla, who co-ministered with her husband Aquila and Lydia, who pastored a fellowship in her home. //

            Cite specific verses – no woman was a pastor of any fellowship, and no verses that talk about Lydia say any such thing.

            // Please understand that it is God who ordains, and He has ordained numerous female spiritual leaders through the centuries, me being one of us. //

            No, God does not “ordain” people to disobey His Word.

            It should concern you that some into homosexuality use all the same arguments you do and claim God ordained them to be spiritual leaders, and they’re just as wrong, and it’s God they’ll answer to as well.

            // God is spirit, and spirit is neither male nor female. //</b?

            So now you're claiming God is no longer male as well? Seems you have something against males. No, God is called "He" and "Him" countless times throughout the entire Bible, which again God's Word contradicts your claim about Him specifically.

            // 1 Corinthians 12 has Paul referring to spiritual gifts without referring gender. Note verses 28-30. Again, no gender is mentioned. //

            But it’s made clear women will not be pastors and women should not even speak in the church, which contradicts your implication it means women can be pastors, women can speak in the church and so on.

            And nowhere in that list does it mention pastors anyway.

            In the end, it’s God you’ll have to convince He was wrong when He made it clear women are:

            – to keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; that women are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law,
            – that if women will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church,
            – that woman learn in silence with all subjection.
            – that women woman are not to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

            Rebelling against what God makes plain is hardly new.

            Those women who obey God in that regard will probably be far greater in heaven. Those who do not will deal with the fact they lived in open rebellion against God, just like all those who live in open rebellion against God. It’s that simple.

          • Sharon Billington

            I encourage you to go to God to open your spiritual eyes and ears. Scripture is spiritually discerned, which means God the Holy Spirit leads those who yield to Him to know the truth that He lead human instruments to write as scripture. That’s obviously not the case with you, and you need that spiritual connection before I can go any further. Just because you have the bible in front of you does not mean you understand what”s written. It is not your understanding you need to rely upon but God’s.

            Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV)
            6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
            And He shall direct your paths.

            Isaiah 55:9 (NKJV)
            9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
            So are My ways higher than your ways,
            And My thoughts than your thoughts.

          • Reason2012

            // I encourage you to go to God to open your spiritual eyes and ears. //
            So your response is to
            (1) ignore the verses you’ve been shown,
            (2) ignore the request to back up with scripture your claims that I point out are nowhere in the Bible
            (3) instead implicitly judging me as unsaved / spiritually dead, hence still on my way to_hell, all to hide from the fact that you’re ignoring what God’s Word says.

            Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

            Please think again – you’re only fooling yourself, and those who follow you if you’re a pastor as you claimed (“me being one of us”) – and their blood will be on your hands. You’re also inviting condemnation on yourself for judging others as going to_hell.

  • Nedd Kareiva

    The denomination is pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage and a host of other anti-Biblical positions, perhaps the most liberal in North America. Yet they draw the line at atheism. Amazing. Maybe there is hope for this wacko denomination, probably not so much for this Vosper character.

  • Amos Moses

    Unitarian Universalist Church Changes Logo To ¯_(ツ)_/¯
    September 15, 2016

    BOSTON, MA—The Unitarian Universalist Association revealed its new logo to much buzz and fanfare Thursday morning. Replacing its previous logo consisting of a flaming chalice, the new logo is a shrugging emoji man, said to represent the religious group’s lack of certain belief in any doctrine or creed at all.

    “We wanted our logo to send a strong message about what we believe,” UUA President Reverend Peter Morales told reporters gathered in front of a large banner with the new logo, unfurled just moment before. “And we have no idea what we believe, really. So the shrugging man is the perfect, strong symbol for our confused congregations to rally behind.”

  • Sharon Billington

    How can an atheist lead a Christian congregation? A spiritual leader is just that: one who leads believers to Jesus. We are bridges to God and His love, and that’s something an atheist can’t be or do. God does not approve of those like this so-called pastor. He calls them idol shepherds. Matthew 22:37-39 has Jesus, who is God, commanding us to love God with all that we are. How can an atheist be and do that? This makes no sense. She does need to be defrocked because she is not about her Father’s business like Jesus was.

  • peanut butter

    Her congregation gave her a standing ovation… then defrock her and let them have her. It looks like her bad influence has already taken hold on them.

  • Gena B

    I wonder who her ‘god’ is? She has to design herself a god in order to ‘share’ her views, wow sounds like a lot of churches out there.

    • Amos Moses

      Congregation Loses Third Pastor To Botched Dirt Bike Jump Onto Church Stage
      September 22, 2016

  • Amos Moses

    Atheist Delivers Powerful Testimony Of Coming To Believe Life Has No Purpose
    September 30, 2016