Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, August 07, 2015

Not a Handmaid of God But of Good

"I don't believe in ... the god called God. Using the word gets in the way of sharing what I want to share."
"Is the bible really the word of God? Was Jesus a person?"
"It's mythology. We build a faith tradition upon it which shifted to find belief more important than how we lived."
"... 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 endeavour."
Reverend Gretta Vosper, United Church Minister, Toronto
"What we don't want is to limit the scope of beliefs within the church, and yet what was being questioned here was: Has she gone too far?"
"The vision of the United Church of Canada is: There is a God in whom we believe, and our statements of faith are very clear about that."
Reverend David Allen, executive secretary, Toronto Conference
Reverend Vosper has gone a tad too far in completely departing from religious faith while operating within an organization whose purpose of existence is to promulgate and celebrate humankind's acceptance in the inarguable verity that a Divine Spirit omnisciently and powerfully created all that lives and guides all living things to the will of that spirit, infusing in humans their own spirit of goodness.
Nora Sanders, general secretary, United Church of Canada General Council, formulated a review process to be used by the church in determining whether 57-year-old Gretta Vosper, ordained in 1993 into a very 'relaxed' church environment and with her east-end Toronto church in the Toronto suburb of West Hill since 1997, should be defrocked. That determination will rest on whether Rev.Vosper is exhibiting faithfulness to her ordination vows.

Those vows included the affirmation of a belief in "God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". With Reverend Vosper making it abundantly clear that she has no such belief, and nor, as minister of the West Hill United Church, will she perform in the position to which she was assigned after ordination, the response seems clear enough. Back in 2001 Gretta Vosper delivered a sermon where for the first time she stated her lack of belief in a supreme deity.

At that time her congregation seemed not to mind their minister's renunciation of the faith in which she was ordained. And then, it appears they found that the deletion of the Lord's Prayer in 2008 a step too far for many in the congregation, prompting about one hundred of the church's 150 members to depart, leaving one third of the original church membership to continue supporting the work of their minister.

Now, the United Church is seeking to remove Reverend Vosper from their ministry. And she has prepared herself to defend her position within the church. Which is truly puzzling, for why would an avowed atheist wish to continue the farce of presenting as a minister of God, while denying the existence of any god?  She considers herself a humanist, preaching to her congregation the verities of human goodness.

Unassociated with any religious precepts. For religion is totally unnecessary to her vision of mature responsibility and sound, ethical behaviour in the espousal of worthy values. Obviously she sees the church and religious devotion as a crutch, infantalizing people toward a parent-child relationship where certain rules must be accepted and followed, in honour of the church and its belief in an Almighty Spirit.

So Reverend Vosper is in the process of appealing the General Council's ruling as expressed by its general secretary, Nora Sanders, claiming that she is being judged and found wanting; most unChristian, supposedly. Supporting her, the board chairman of the West Hill congregation who had led the committee that hired Reverend Vosper, claims to have had no complaints from congregants.

One might imagine that one hundred out of one-hundred-fifty congregants leaving their church membership represented one colossal complaint, but evidently not. Reverend Vosper insists that she and her supporters hold true to her humanistic views. Certainly; but is the United Church of Canada and one of its member-churches a credible and suitable venue for the espousal of those views?

"If the cost of that [clinging to those views] is that we are no longer welcome within that denomination, it will be because that denomination has defined us out of it, not because we have defined ourselves out of it", huffs Reverend Vosper.

Oh, goodness me!

Might she have missed her true calling as a motivational speaker?
Gretta Vosper, an atheist minister at an east-end United Church, is disputing a review of her position in the church based on her beliefs.
Gretta Vosper, an atheist minister at an east-end United Church, is disputing a review of her position in the church based on her beliefs. (Gretta Vosper/Facebook)

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