They brought her flowers. They gave her a standing ovation. They repeatedly professed it “a great day.”
This is the cult of Gretta Vosper.
A United Church of Canada minister who doesn’t believe in God.
An atheist — outed herself before the congregation five years ago — rather than the less radical non-theist term, which is a person who doesn’t think of God as a being, thereby avoiding some of the more negative baggage associated with the A-word.
A heretic, frankly, as Vosper herself shorthands it on tweets with the hashtag #heresytrial.
There will be no trial, no formal ecclesiastical hearing, no defrocking. After three-and-a-half years of preparation and internal controversy, the United Church swallowed its theological opposition, last week announcing that Vosper is free to continue her ministry without any sanctions or restrictions, thus aborting a much-anticipated “trial” that had been scheduled to begin next Monday.
Carry on deleting all reference to God or a supernatural being in all sermons and rewritten hymns. Carry on expunging the Lord’s Prayer. Carry on with a fundamentally humanist dogma. Carry on conducting services as a community-centred attestation where everybody gets a shot at the microphone.
But what a cross to bear that gigantic wooden crucifix at the front of the Church of the Master must be, constant reminder of everything this parish rejects. Church of the Master in far-flung Scarborough is only a temporary landlord, of course, providing worshipping space for West Hill United because their building has a leaking roof and other structural issues.