Atheist Minister Facing Possible Dismissal for Lack of Belief in God

Atheist Minister Facing Possible Dismissal for Lack of Belief in God

An atheist minister in Canada is currently under scrutiny for her eligibility to be a minister in the United Church of Canada.

Gretta Vosper, who has been the spiritual leader at West Hill United Church since 1997, is being reviewed by The United Church of Canada's Toronto executive and may be facing dismissal due to her atheism.

Part of Vosper’s vows upon ordination in the United Church of Canada included a statement of belief in "God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

In more recent years, Vosper has openly shown her denial of that belief.

"I don't believe in the god called God," Vosper stated. "Using the word gets in the way of sharing what I want to share." 

 What Vosper wants to share seems to be an emphasis on acts of compassion and justice, as well as “promoting an environment where people, often of widely differing opinions and backgrounds, can come together and work at living well within themselves, with one another, and in right relationship with the whole world,” according to West Hill’s website.

Vosper alienated some congregants when she stopped the practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer in church services.

In 2008, Vosper published With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important Than What We Believe which caused even more congregants to leave her church. However, according to Charisma News, the 70 or so members who remain at West Hill are fervent supporters of Vosper.

West Hill’s website rejects formulation of a doctrinal statement or statement of faith, instead proclaiming “that's how we want to be known as Christians – not for what we believe, but for how we live.” 

It remains to be seen whether Vosper will retain her position as a minister at West Hill.

Charisma News reports, however, that the United Church of Canada, founded in 1925, is known for its liberal leanings and its social activism.

Publication date: August 11, 2015