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A Toronto United Church minister that identifies as an atheist will remain ordained and continue to minister in her Toronto congregation after a three and a half year battle. 

Gretta Vosper has been an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada (UCC) since 1992. She says on her website that she "came out as an atheist in 2001," though she says she "did not identify as an atheist until 2013."

In 2015 the UCC made a requirement that "its clergy be in ongoing affirmation of their ordination questions." As a result, a review committee found Vosper unsuitable for ministry. However, she continued to minister at her congregation, West Hill United Church in Toronto.

In October of 2018 it was announced that the General Council of the United Church of Canada has scheduled a formal hearing to decide whether she will be removed from the church’s order of ministry.

On Wednesday, November 7, the Toronto Conference of the UCC, Rev. Gretta Vosper, and West Hill United Church released a short, joint statement.

The statement reads:

Toronto Conference, the Rev. Gretta Vosper, and West Hill United Church have settled all outstanding issues between them.

The Rev. Vosper will remain in ordained ministry at West Hill.

We acknowledge the faithful work of all of those who have been involved in the process.

Shortly after the first statement, the UCC released their own statement. "This doesn’t alter in any way the belief of The United Church of Canada in God, a God most fully revealed to us as Christians in and through Jesus Christ," the statement reads. "The church’s statements of faith over the years have all been grounded in this understanding."

Vosper took to Twitter to make her own announcement, saying she was "delighted" with the outcome.


The UCC's moderator, the Right Rev. Richard Bott, also released a statement via email.

In it he says, "As a Christian church, we continue to expect that ministers in The United Church of Canada will offer their leadership in accordance with our shared and agreed upon statements of faith, celebrating the sacraments, and praying that all who are part of the denomination will help people to love, as Jesus put it, 'God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.' (Luke 10:27, NRSV)."

Bott closed his email by saying, "I hope that people across the church will join me in holding the Rev. Gretta Vosper, the congregation of West Hill United Church, and Toronto Conference in our prayers. May we work together to mend the Creator’s hurting world, to celebrate Christ’s ever-loving presence, and to be pushed to new places by the Holy Spirit’s call."



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