Courtesy: Gretta Vosper/Facebook

United Church of Canada responds to atheist minister

“Some find her refreshing, others have serious doubts”

TORONTO, ON—An ordained minister of the United Church of Canada (UCC) recently stated that she believes in neither God nor the Bible. Gretta Vosper, minister of West Hill United Church, says that how you live is more important than what you believe.

“The belief that the Bible is the authoritative word of God is one such presupposition that must be let go if we are going to seek the truth,” Vosper writes in her book, With or Without God: Why the Way We Live Is More Important Than What We Believe.

The majority of her congregation supported her views until a decision to remove the Lord’s Prayer from the service in 2008 prompted two thirds of the congregation to leave. The remaining members of the congregation support her.

David W. Allen, Executive Secretary of the Toronto Conference of the UCC, says there is no single reaction to what Vosper is saying, either within the UCC or outside of it.

“Some people find her refreshing and candid, and have expressed appreciation for the care they have received from her and the West Hill United Church congregation,” says Allen. “Others, though, have expressed serious doubts about how a minister can say some of the things she says about God and Jesus, and still function as a minister within the church.”

Allen recognizes that this is a stressful time for Vosper and many others—no matter where they stand on what she says. He encourages those who are invested in the matter to maintain thoughts and/or prayers for Vosper and also for the United Church of Canada.

“My hope is that at the end of the process, we’ll have a good reason for maintaining her as a minister – or we’ll have a good reason for saying she is not to continue in that role,” says Allen. “What we have not done is to pre-judge the outcome and we, like many others, await the recommendations that will eventually come to us.”

The Toronto Conference initiated a review of Vosper, which she has appealed using the process outlined by the UCC’s General Secretary. The Toronto Conference has suspended the review until the results of the appeal are known, anticipating the outcome sometime this fall.

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About the author


ChristianWeek Correspondent

Allison is a writer, editor, and graphic designer with a BA in English from Canadian Mennonite University and a Certificate in Publishing from Ryerson University. She currently manages Area of Effect magazine and is a missionary with Geekdom House in Winnipeg, MB.

  • Jim Smith

    Seems like we have some very weak leadership in the United Church of Canada

  • Jim Carne

    Atheism is the next natural step for the United Church, isn’t it?

  • unbelievable literally! This comes as no surprise as the United Church of Canada has continually water-down their beliefs for years in an attempt to appeal to the masses. Fortunately there are still a few Bible believing churches in Canada where Christians can go and glorify & praise a living God.

  • How could they claim to be shocked that one of their adherents openly confesses to not believing in the faith itself. For a long time now the UCC has taken its cues and marching orders from secular progressives and not the scriptures. Most of their allies in their social gospel struggles, hate the church and blame it and Christinaity for the world’s ills so Gretta Vosper is essentially what they as a church community have fostered. Doing good for mankind is Christ like however when you forget than only God can affect true positive change in the world then you end up as the UCC is today!

  • Boko999

    Talk about dogging a fled horse.

  • Ian S. Kirby-Smith

    What a conumdrum! An atheist struggling to maintain a relationship with a Church whose beliefs she denies and a Church struggling to maintain a relationship with an atheist whose faith in God credentials should no longer be considered valid.

  • MarkCanada2015

    What this United Church minister claims is no different than many of the new age “life” spiritualists of the past couple decades. They too denounced the Bible as God written claiming it just a book of good wise words and was man-made.

    There is no breath of fresh air in Gretta’s words. I have been an atheist before, then God found me and confirmed to me he is real and the scriptures are from him.

    So when I read about Gretta, I say, Oh my, another confused soul.

    No person can do good without seeking and connecting with God. No person is good but him, as we are laden thick with error and confusion.

    After many years as an atheist who believed exactly what Gretta claims (hence she is not saying anything new), then spent many years communicating with God through prayer, I see that what Gretta speaks is falsehood in regards to God. She just cannot seem to connect with God and that is sad, but that is her choice.

    What concerns me is why would she want to stay in the United Church. Where is her right to turn that church upside down with her personal beliefs. Don’t those members have the right to believe and worship God? She has no right to interfere with that and the best move for her is to leave that church and start her own new age church like hundreds of others have in the past. Leave the United Church members alone and go your own way and worship elsewhere your own way.