Nfld. & Labrador

Future of atheist minister may be part of United Church conference in N.L.

More than 600 people are gathering in Corner Brook this weekend to discuss the future of the United Church of Canada— possibly including whether or not an atheist can be a United minister.
Gretta Vosper is an atheist minister at a United Church in Toronto. The church is currently reviewing her position based on her beliefs. (Gretta Vosper/Facebook)

More than 600 people are gathering in Corner Brook this weekend to discuss the future of the United Church of Canada— possibly including whether or not an atheist can be a United minister.

Reverend Gretta Vosper is an ordained minister who doesn't believe in God or the Bible, and doesn't say the Lord's Prayer in church.

She has been a practicing minister since the early 1990s and came out as an atheist in 2001.

"I believe people can support each other with love and wisdom in a church with or without the god called God," writes Vosper on her website.

Now, the United Church is wrestling with the question of whether or not she should be fired.
More than 600 people will gather at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University and the Corner Brook Civic Centre for the United Church of Canada General Council. (CBC)

Although decisions about Vosper will be made during a future United Church conference in Toronto, she likely will be a topic of much discussion among those in attendance this week.

"I don't expect that it will have any formal business time here but I expect there will be many conversations," said Gary Paterson, moderator of the United Church of Canada.

Nora Sanders, general secretary of the church, said that the United Church is a place where ideas like this can be discussed freely.

"It's important as my role as general secretary that I not step into matters that are being dealt with at a place in the church," she said.

"As far as the individuals in the church, all will have their own opinions and we are a church that feels free to discuss many things. "

The conference, which is held every three years, is in Corner Brook from August 8 to August 15. This is the first time it has been in Newfoundland and Labrador since the 1960s.

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