United Church of Canada minister Gretta Vosper talking about her faith.

Should Gretta Vosper be permitted to remain a pastor now that she’s become an outspoken atheist? (Photo: J.P. Moczulski/The Toronto Star)

Earlier this month, the Toronto Star reported on the United Church of Canada’s announcement that one of their most popular ministers, Gretta Vosper, is “unsuitable to continue serving” the church and could be defrocked. Her crime? Vosper has declared herself an atheist – she no longer believes in God. Despite this, she continues to preach every Sunday. In lieu of references to God, her messages from the pulpit invoke love, kindness and human connection. The well-liked pastor has been with the church for almost 20 years, and enjoys strong support. Although her congregation stands behind her, the church committee will have the final say in deciding her fate. Their decision is expected to be released in several weeks.

Mixed Reactions

Vosper’s defenders are concerned that reprimanding her may seriously halt discussion in the church about shifting beliefs. They think defrocking her may lead other pastors or laypeople who have doubts about their faith to simply stay silent — thus bottling up their feelings instead of confronting them honestly. To this group, it would be counterintuitive to punish someone for expressing their true opinions at the pulpit.

Others demand that Vosper be removed immediately. They fear the consequences of letting an outspoken atheist preach from the Christian pulpit. In their mind, it severely undermines the church’s message, and could negatively influence its membership going forward. If Vosper doesn’t believe in God, they insist, she should leave and go start her own church.

A congregation of people in churchDiversity of Beliefs

Of course, faith is a complex subject. Individual followers may identify with some aspects of their religion, but not with others. Although there are specific foundational doctrines of every faith, there exist plenty of nuances as well. It’s fair to say that every congregation holds some diversity in its views, and that not every member completely supports every tenet of the faith.

It’s also worth considering how beliefs can shift over time. All of us have changed our minds about something during our lifetimes. For certain people, that something is faith. Whether it be specific life experiences, an intense moment of clarity, or simply the course of time, there are many forces at work which can cause our beliefs to grow or evolve. As Gretta Vosper’s story shows, even religious leaders are not immune to reaching a new understanding of their personal faith.

Changing Faith

Vosper has made no secret about her changing faith. After joining the church way back in 1997, her beliefs gradually began to shift. In 2008, she published a book titled, “With or Without God: Why the Way We Live Is More Important Than What We Believe.” In it, she identified herself as a non-theist. She then went on to publish a second book titled, “Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief.” It wasn’t until she fully embraced atheism a few years ago that church leaders resolved that something must be done.

UCC Pastor Gretta Vosper during a service.

Gretta Vosper

Unique Case

By nature, people trust and respect the leaders of their faith. These leaders guide the members of the congregation and help to shape their ideals and religious interpretations. In this sense, it’s certainly possible that a pastor rejecting a basic tenet of the faith could create a negative ripple effect throughout the congregation. Interestingly, though, Gretta Vosper’s congregation appears to be stronger and more united that ever. In fact, by all accounts, church members go to hear her sermons precisely because of the unique perspective they offer. Their support for Vosper is reflected in an online petition which now has well over 1,000 signatures.

The United Church of Canada is known for being open-minded and inclusive. However, Vosper admits to pushing the limits of the church’s tolerance. Her progressive movement is not alone, though. According to the Toronto Star, there is currently a movement within the organization that seeks to put a greater emphasis on social justice and environmental causes.

Where’s the Balance?

To what extent should the church and religion change to meet people where they are? Here in the United States, we’re guaranteed religious freedom – but each religion has the ability to set rules for its members and its leadership. Some groups have chosen inclusivity. The Episcopal Church, for example, has made a complete change from the traditional, conservative Christian beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.

On the other hand, the United Methodist Church has fired ministers who are openly gay. They’ve even fired ministers simply for choosing to marry a same-sex couple. But those are just the publicized cases. Since pastors often step down before facing the possibility of being terminated, we have no way of knowing how frequently this happens.

A Question of AllegianceA Christian cross necklace in the shape of a question mark.

Ultimately, religious leaders who no longer support tenets of their faith (or have changed their views entirely), must decide where their allegiance lies. Do they have a responsibility to suppress their true feelings and faithfully serve the church – or are they morally obligated to listen to their hearts and act accordingly?

Change is never easy, especially if it’s on a personal and spiritual level. But people change. Pastors change. It’s a fact of life. This issue boils down to whether or not religious leaders should be allowed to question their faith without losing their ministry. Both sides of the argument present good cases, but we’d like to hear where you stand.

What should happen when a pastor, priest, imam, rabbi (or any other religious leader) changes their faith?




  1. Miranda Allison Young says:

    I think that she should voluntarily remove herself from the Church since she no longer believes in God and the people in her church will no longer be getting the support that they need to continue living a Godlike life. She is no longer helping her people.

    1. Bob says:

      Since churches are not much more than private clubs, I see no reason why the leader can’t be removed, or for that matter, why she should be. It’s up to the members to make that decision. After all, it’s their club.

      1. Kalyb says:

        I think it should be a vote and if she wins she stays. If she loses she is not. Leave it up to the people.

      2. Gladiola says:

        The Church of Jesus Christ is not a club nor should it be…in the Bible (where the church should go to for all answers) the sheep never get together and tell the Shepard what to do…if she does not believe in God anymore she cannot teach in a Church who’s foundation is God (we are built upon the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone)! The over Shepherds should not be afraid of what would happen to their congregation if they sit down a person they put up! The congregation is already split, she has poisoned them with her doctrine, a doctrine that’s not after Christ Jesus!

        1. Minister Norman says:

          Stated most eloquently and precisely… Thank You!

        2. Michael Sheils says:

          No offense, but this is an archaically and out of touch post considering the actual facts of this case. As in everything else, life changes, as does reality. The Bibles themselves have been translated, transcript-ed, embellished, reduced subject to the whims and needs of Popes, Kings, Emperors, etc. Things change. Christ wasn’t even “divine” until the Council of Nicea” ordered by the Roman Emperor Constantine tin an attempt to control the issue in the discrepancies in the Bible, etc. The end result is history. The changes in this modern world seen daily in the thousands of churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.cannot be ignored. That would be counterproductive. We evolve, religion evolves. Referencing the Bible is helpful but researching the history of religion is far more important and elucidating. Change is inevitable. We must seek a methodology to deal with all the changes that we see at this time and prepare for future changes. That’s life, ever changing, never stagnant..

          1. Joe says:

            Much love and Oneness felt in your comment, Michael. I fully agree.

          2. Vickie Morgart says:

            Very good answer. I could not agree more.

          3. Brother John says:

            Thanks for your rational, intelligent input, Michael. It seems that most “Christians” that post here put a huge emphasis on belief (aka blind faith) and little to none on the history and veracity of their Bible. I have posted quite a number of challenges to those promoting beliefs as facts (and other assorted nonsense), usually without any response other than perhaps more scripture.

      3. Collette Chambers says:

        Bob, I would disagree with you. As leaders of Godly Faith it’s our responsibility to guide God’s children in His Word. To denounce God is blasphemy to him and deceptive to those seeking God’s word. If she has changed her point of view that’s her choice. However, to continue trying to guide Christians with her disbelief in God is sad-religious uninstall the Christian faith. Her views are her own. If she has chosen to disbelief then I feel it’s privial for her to step down from a religion she can no longer stand by that will put those who do believe at risk for deceptive change in guidance. Church is NOT a social club, it’s a religious sanctuary for those to worship him in fellowship with other believers. I do not disrupt others beliefs, however, I respect the Sanctity of every religions traditions, expectations, and sanctuaries. If Christians believe fellowship in a based sanctuary is important and tradition then we as leaders need to respect their traditions regardless of our choices of religion, sanctuary, or traditions. Period. Atheists don’t have a congregation of Churches as they do not believe in that but they must have some form of fellowship meeting place to discuss their beliefs. It should be just as respected as churches to Christians. Period.

        1. DeAnna Tyree says:

          Why would a person wish to continue teaching something she or he no longer believes? How can the parish continue in faith when the minister has none?

          1. Rev paul says:

            Deanna you are so very Right

    2. Jean E Klingensmith says:

      I agree..she should leave.. voluntary

    3. Rev paul says:

      I think the church should find a minister that believes in God for the health of the church

      1. William says:

        I agree with Reverend Paul our basic Foundation of belief is the foundation to our life and your kid’s life I believe that there is a Supreme Being and he should be dealt with as respectful as possible so help me God

      2. Brother John says:

        So it’s healthier to cling to Bronze Age beliefs, dogma and church hierarchy than to address the doubts, concerns and questions many people have, Rev paul?

        Are you ordained by the ULC or a different church to use the title “Rev”?

    4. Leslie Henry says:

      I believe she should resign as a United church minister, since a belief in Christ and God are fundamental to that group. She should then become ordained as a Universalist minister, and form a new congregation. Since she has a devoted following, this shouldn’t be too hard. This would be the path I would take.

      1. David says:

        Great idea.

    5. Cindi says:

      I think she should voluntarily leave the church. The church she belongs to is under the primary belief in God and the group is clearly exclusive to God as their ultimate leader. Together as the body under God the church accomplishes similar goals with the same beliefs. The body of the church is based on love, social justice, inclusive to those with similar beliefs working to better society. To divide and conquer the primary rock from which it stands breaks down the unity and power. If she lives her life under the umbrella of Love instead of God that is wonderful too but she will eventually realize that dividing and conquering is useless. She has the right to spread her similar beliefs under a different fundamental belief. I believe that building on the simiilarities of other religions whether it’s Hindu, Islam,Christianity is much more productive than conquering and dividing. “God is Love and all who live in Love live in God”.

    6. drfayesnyder says:

      I’m sorry. I thought this was the Universal Life Church, that didn’t question a minister’s theory before ordaining them. I am a Zen Buddhist and minister of this church since the Viet Nam War, when I joined with my husband to protect his decision to be a conscious objector (which he truly was) and so that I would be able to council young men who were facing a decision whether or not to refuse conscription.

      Since then I became a Zen Buddhist, have been teaching a type of parenting is spiritual, leading meditation and teaching people that their very design created by evolution is holy, and it has its own internal guidance system, if you have no ego and are self-aware. My son turned out to be an atheist, because he had Christian friends who were petty and critical of his beliefs. He saw so much hypocrisy and intolerance in Christians that he continued thinking the way I think, but he called himself an atheist, because he thought the definitions humans had for God were petty, such as a God that likes to be prayed to and likes to challenge people to kill their kid to prove their loyalty. I left my church for a similar reason as a teen, because I was refuses absolution for confessing lethal anger (which I had no intention to act upon).

      If this woman has a congregation, if she teaches values and self-reflection on a higher level than most Christian pastors, then God bless her. We need more honest spiritual leaders of substance who lack hypocrisy. I hate to hear that people sharing the privilege of this religion are now critical of ethical questioning in the name of higher values. If you stop espousing the invisible, you have to face the truth about the visible, including hypocrisy.

      1. Jim Hopps says:

        Well said. I love ministering to people, but the evidence strongly suggests there’s no God.

      2. David says:

        Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Thank you for calling all the hypocrites out. Love one another no matter who they are or how the viewer sees them.

      3. JW says:

        Agreed. The ULC has NO requirements of belief; that is, one’s view of deity, or if there even is deity. Agreed. No argument there. However, the UCC has a foundational belief that there is a God. And clergy represent the group to which they belong. This is not about private belief, but public teaching. I rejoice that she still teaches great values and practices. Good for her (and may she be blessed in her journey). But for the sake of her own integrity, and the integrity of the UCC, I must conclude that it would be best if she formed her own congregation (not UCC), or became a Unitarian or whatever fits her newer stance. My opinion.

      4. John Owens says:

        She is not working for the Universal Life Monastery. She is working for the United Church of Canada. If she has ministerial credentials from that organization and receives her paycheck from that organization, she should NOT be espousing atheism. It is absolutely her right to be atheist, but NOT to be a paid pastor in a nominally Christian church. It is hypocritical and cynical for an atheist to take money from Christians for being a pastor. The hierarchy of her church is grossly incompetent.

      5. Michael Sheils says:

        This is a Christian response……..far more so that the bunch above. These are Christian values. Jesus would agree with you, and agree with her. Tunnel vision love and adoration is stifling. Real, vast, magnificent love and adoration is superior to petty requests, deeds. etc. So many “Christian” just don’t get it. In this age of information, there is no excuse for ignorance. That is a choice.

      6. Reverend Dustin says:

        yes i fully agree with drfaysenyder and fully support her/his comments, as a Moslum man said to me many years ago in Indonesia “There are many names for God, There are many ways to pray to your God but there is only one God and the way you believe in your God is within yourself and your beliefs/culture”

      7. David Kubiak says:

        Go back and read the New Testament. Jesus never asked anyone to kill their children or act as most modern “Christians” do. We just won’t do as we are told. St. Francis did, Saint Teresa did. We don’t! If Jesus came back today, we would kill him again. Instead of following these examples, we pray to them and don’t change our ways.

    7. Rev.Sydney says:

      The article stated that the congregation appeared to be more in unity and stronger/as strong as previously. I think it may be hasty to conclude that the people in her church would no longer be getting the support they need to continue living a loving, compassionate, and “righteous” life.

      I think Gretta should schedule an open meeting with the congregation, to discuss the situation and her position, field questions/comments from the congregation, and ask them what they would like to see happen, and whether they felt she should remain or resign.

      1. hsw says:

        They have already made their wishes clear – they want her to stay.

    8. Bobby lowe says:

      I agree that if a person who denies GODS existence does not need to lead a church the BIBLE plainly states if the blind lead the blind they both shall fall

      1. Bob says:

        The bible says a lot of things..many of them nonsensical and/or contradictory. If she preaches love and compassion she’s doing her job.

        1. Donald Warren says:

          Agreed my friend.

        2. Rev. Yllena says:

          Has anyone read ‘The secret in the Bible’ by T. Bushby?
          I’m told it’s fascinating.

        3. Gladiola says:

          The Bible teaches much more than love and compassion…it is the go to book of truth and if she does not believe in God, she is not teaching Jesus’ truth! She is teaching man’s carnal truth and that is clearly not truth.The only reason you think she is “doing her job” is because you think the Bible is filled with “nonsensical and contradictory things”!

          1. Brother John says:

            Many “non-believers” are more familiar with the history of the Bible and the many contradictions it contains than Christians, Gladiola. It’s the reason we’re “non-believers” and do not believe it’s the “go to book of truth”. I encourage you to thoroughly read the information I’ve linked, and most importantly, to verify them yourself in your own Bible.



    9. Randy Downs says:

      You cannot preach the word of GOD if you do not believe in GOD

      1. Donald Warren says:

        I preach the deeds of man. You are free to follow any invisible deity you wish.

    10. David says:

      Why can an atheist not counsel religious people? Atheism is a religion and she has the ability to help others make important decisions and think and see both sides. Religious people do not have a lock on the ability to counsel.

      1. Brother John says:

        Atheism is not a “religion”, David.

    11. Collette Chambers says:

      I agree 110%

    12. Minister Thomas W Cornfield says:

      They should burn her at the stake (lol) You cannot minister The lord god almighty, or Jesus. if you don’t believe. My feeling are if you don’t you’ll get one heck of supersize. My father was like that which helped strengthen my love for the Lord God Almighty. Personally. Only a fool doesn’t believe So don’t be a fool. They should ask her to leave and if she refuses !!!! restraining order !!!! May the Good Lord Bless your day

      1. Rev paul says:

        I agree with you 100 percent

      2. hsw says:

        I’m a little confused about the “supersize.”

        Here’s the rub – her congregation doesn’t want her to leave. She’s not refusing anything – she’s doing what she’s been asked to do.

      3. Brother John says:

        “Only a fool doesn’t believe So don’t be a fool,”
        -Minister Thomas W Cornfield

        “Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.”
        ― Isaac Asimov, The Roving Mind

        “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
        ― Philip K. Dick, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

        “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
        ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

        “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.”
        ― Friedrich Nietzsche

        “Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”
        ― George Carlin

        “belief is the death of intelligence.”
        ― Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger: Die letzten Geheimnisse der Illuminaten oder An den Grenzen des erweiterten Bewusstseins

        “Religious doctrines … are all illusions, they do not admit of proof, and no one can be compelled to consider them as true or to believe in them.”
        ― Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion

        “It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.”
        ― Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

  2. Howard Masters says:

    If you are an athiest then start a church with that idea as a topic of your church. Lets get back to realism and preach the holy Bible as written not a one person interpets. It. May God bless us all so we can find the right way his way no other. Amen. Pastor. Ed

    1. Collette Chambers says:

      Amen! Pastor Ed
      Pastor C. Chambers

    2. Michael Sheils says:

      Howard Masters: Have you researched how the “Bible” was “Written”. How many “Gospels” there are and just how many are not included. How the choice of gospels, etc. were conducted, etc. History. Research. Belief if wonderful, knowledge makes it real. Simple words, transcribed, translated, by thousands of scribes, monks, etc. centuries after the death of Christ are suspect. One must research them oneself. Reality is not what it seems. Preaching and leading without this knowledge is inexcusable. It is choosing ignorance and leading others in the same direction. That is just not what Jesus wanted.

      1. Brother John says:

        Excellent post, Michael. I’ve posted several lectures by Dr. Bart Ehrman, a well respected New Testament scholar who has devoted decades to studying extant manuscripts. You can find many of them on YouTube.

  3. Dreamsinger says:

    “If you can’t stand questioning what you believe, then what good are your beliefs?” (from the tv show ‘Lucifer’, Season 2)

    The thing about respecting your leaders is that respect must be earned, it cannot be given on command like training a circus dog. It’s one thing to become a minister in a Church that you know doesn’t advocate your values, but it’s another thing to be a leader with ears that do not hear. It’s a topic that, in a way, comes up rather often between Christians and non-Christians in America: if you don’t agree with my religion, then you’re not respecting me or my religion.

    You don’t have to agree with a person’s argument, and you don’t have to respect it if you don’t agree with it. You can acknowledge the person’s argument, if you wish to go that far, but that’s the bare minimum to ask of anyone (or have anyone ask of you).

    What Vosper’s doing is just that: politely acknowledging and disagreeing with the United Church’s leadership, while still doing her job of focusing on the message and not the messenger. You can be atheist, Muslim, Pagan, or any other non-Christian, and still practice Christ’s teachings. It’s very possible. In fact, it happens every day by 5.2 billion humans.

    Imams would be seen as apostates, and rabbis… might get some flak for it.

    1. capturedwilderness says:

      You cannot be an atheist AND an ordained minister… agnostic perhaps, but not atheist. An atheist has declared that he or she has asked themselves the question “Does God exist?” and have answered it the negative – they have decided that, for them, God does not exist… so how then does that person then decide that they should be ordained under the eyes of a God that they firmly disbelieve in – that is called “Hypocrisy”.
      Now, as a child, I believed in God, however, after a number of incidents that occurred in my life, I started to question my faith, to wonder if there really was a God… so I guess you can say that for a time, I was Agnostic – I was undecided… but I got my proof a few years ago that there must be a God, thus I decided to become ordained. Had I made up my mind that I didn’t believe, then I would not have asked to be ordained. How can one become a servant of a God that one doesn’t believe in? It just doesn’t make any sense.

      1. hsw says:

        I believe you fail to understand where you are. Many of us here are ordained by the Universal Life Church and do not believe in a god, as there is no requirement to do so. We came to be ordained for many reasons, often because we wanted to be of service to our communities in performing various life rituals such as weddings, funerals, and others, for those who either do not have a church home, or do not subscribe to a traditional spiritual path.

        1. Rev. Miguel Denyer says:

          I’m having difficulty in understanding this… the definition of being ordained with regards to theology, is to have had holy orders conferred upon you – so I’m having a difficult time negotiating the logic behind accepting that one has been ordained by a system that is purportedly governed by a deity that one does not believe exists… that logic simply doesn’t compute… that, to me, is like saying I want coffee every morning but I don’t believe coffee exists.
          Like the saying goes… you can’t have your cake and eat it too… if you don’t believe in God, how can you preside over religious ceremonies that would, for all intents and purposes, be patently false?
          I get it, we now live in a world where it is all inclusive, where people expect reward without risk or effort, but how can one say “I want to be blessed by or otherwise receive benefit from a deity in which I do not believe exists” – to me that is hypocrisy. I don’t think there is any evil involved or any wrongdoing – but I do believe that it may be spiritually harmful to preach faith to others when you yourself have none… it is basically living a lie… but that’s just my opinion which, counts for nought so I guess I’ve nothing more to say on the matter.

          1. Charlene says:

            Very well put, Rev. Denyer…We must “practice what we preach.” Lead by example. While Gretta Vosper shares her beliefs, they must not infringe upon the rights of those who believe to the contrary of her beliefs…if she is strong in her convictions she must do the right thing of standing on her convictions without disrupting the belief systems of others. When we try to force hands, we rob others of their freedoms, liberties and “free-will.” Love and compassion inspires us to honor this gift of free-will without infringement…Ms. Vosper has already challenged the church with her beliefs…she does not need to convince them further by staying and splintering, and or division of a church which opened the door to her “voice.” Love and compassion respects…love and compassion does not disrupt…love and compassion honors freedom of choice…in respecting the choices of others, Ms. Vosper would honor her beliefs, by continuing with them to the congregation who accepts her beliefs…in their own church or gathering place…being true to yourself does not include forcing the affirmations of others by passive challenges of their beliefs, in side by side preaching of contrary beliefs…Ms. Vosper would also look deeper into her teachings of love…Love invokes the power of choice…Love does not challenge…..

          2. Eric says:

            Thank You, to tell the truth I just don’t see anyway around this whole congregation ending up in hell

          3. Brother John says:

            Which church conferred your holy orders and gave you the title Rev, Miguel?

            Many Christians and their various churches do not recognize ULC ordinations as bona fide because they’re available to anyone and the list of available titles is substantial.


      2. DarlingAngel Delgado says:

        She didnt start iff as an Athiest, she later became Atheist but still preaches the Principals We should all focus on: How to treat others, to serve others, to live clean & without harm to others, To Love obe another as we wish to be Loved.

        I have known a Atheist that live Christian values far more consistently than oroclaimed Christians..

        And how do we know Gretta Vosper or Any Other Questioning Minister, Rabbi, Priest, ect wont then change their belief back to a God (or thee God) in time, just as you had changed your view from a non-believer to an Ordianed Believer.

        It is up to that Church to decide whether Ms. Vosper stays or goes.

      3. Brother John says:

        “You cannot be an atheist AND an ordained minister… agnostic perhaps, but not atheist” says
        capturedwilderness. Most of us here are ordained through the Universal Life Church. Some of us are, in fact, Atheists (which you have defined incorrectly).

        Is your ordination through the ULC?
        If so, why are you surprised that there are “non-believers” on this site?
        If not, why are you here instead of the source of your ordination?

  4. MG"4"B ∞ Möbius says:

    Growth. Problem is not knowing God therefore understand what you preach is His Son’s words. The same sword will cut you. Faith is wisdom of the power of love.

  5. William Roe says:

    Rev. Roe
    What is the job of a minister of the church? I feel it is to tell of the many wonders of God. There are many religions one might chose. I look at it this way. Draw a circle and place a dot in the center which stands for God. Place each religion around the circle, all with a goal of reaching the center. Regardless of our faith, are goals are all the same. Without God, what does one have to pass on to their members?

    1. revbarbarajadams says:

      Interesting analogy. I always imagined just the opposite. All the religions of the earth are the dot in the middle and we are surrounded by God.

      Each person comes to God by their own devices, and it isn’t unusual for someone to doubt or Thomas wouldn’t have. Belief and Faith often do not hold hands until a person recognizes the wonder of the Universe and God’s role in it as the creator.

    2. Michael Sheils says:

      The job of a minister is to help his flock…….plain and simple.

  6. Galin Pheylan says:

    As Gretta Vosper has made her decision to embrace Atheism, why does she expect to stay on as Pastor/Minister to the congregation? Is it for financial reasons, what ever it is she receives? The question is a legitimate one. Why? And, why would a congregation want someone preaching to them who no longer believes what they themselves believe?

    1. revbarbarajadams says:

      Agreed. It is time for Gretta to seek another avenue for her ministry.

    2. Cable Flame says:

      I’ve been following this case some. Greta stays because her congregation wants her to stay… She’s been out about her beliefs for years. Many in her congregation believe as she does even before she came out, and since the word got out that she’s an atheist minister leading humanist services, many came to her church specifically for that.

      Her congregation feels that they all believe in common what’s most important to them, and they’ve decided that the most important part is not belief in God. (The Unitarian Universalists, a faith that also doesn’t require a belief in God like the ULC, have said for years “we need not think alike to love alike”. For UU theists, loving one another is more important than any other person’s belief in God. I mean, we work with and volunteer with people every day who do not believe as we do, and we have decided that’s not important… What’s important is what we have in common.)

      Both she and her congregation feels that she has a lot to offer the world in terms of ministry that does not involve theism: inspiration to be a good person, guidance, hope in hard times, loving community for support & belonging, and a critical mass to go forth in the world and help create justice.

      1. Anthony Burton says:

        If all of her congregation agrees with her, and they are happy with her stance, that’s cool… but they then need to drop their affiliation with the United Church of Canada. If the church plant belongs to the local congregation, no problem. If the church plant belongs to the denomination, then they have to move to another building.

        Sounds like they want their cake and want to devour it, too.

        1. Cable Flame says:

          Having read her defense that she gave to the UCC, I think she doesn’t necessarily believe that her beliefs are wholly outside of UCC’s beliefs, given that the UCC seems to have a lot of leeway for individual belief within the denomination. She seems to assert that she sees these tenets as metaphor… As important metaphor… And her belief in the power of the metaphor is what still qualifies her. (Not saying it does or doesn’t one way or the other, but just trying to clarify.)

      2. Michael Sheils says:


    3. Anthony Burton says:

      I believe she should leave voluntarily, at least long enough to seek out her own path, whatever that may be. She may be confirmed in her atheism, and that’s fine, but if so, she needs to leave an organization that is FOUNDED on a belief in God. To stay there as an atheist makes as much sense as a Jew joining the American Nazi Party: the belief systems are totally in opposition. Yes, she may be a wonderful person. Yes, she may be much more moral than many Christians, but that does not make her a good representative nor an appropriate leader for a congregation of people who are worshipers of the God she denies.

      As someone said, let her leave and found another church. Her supporters, if they are true to their support, will follow her to the new church. She could affiliate with the Church of Humanism, or the Humanist branch of the Unitarian Universalist Church, begin her ministry, and not be in conflict with the basic tenets of the organization.

      1. Cable Flame says:

        I think the reason she wants to stay is because she’d like to see the UCC take a path much like the UUs did. They, too, were a Christian church (2 of them) at one point in time, and they slowly evolved into a free faith without a creed that allows atheism. Of course, at some point, some folks had to start the church down that path… They had to question from the pulpit, they had to come out. In essence, they had to do what she’s doing.

        I believe she sees herself as acting in the same manner, trying to start that process for the UCC.

        1. Brother John says:

          The cries of outrage about Vosper seem similar to that of the Pharisees and their supporters about Jesus.

          “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.”

          Read more here about “teachers of religious law”……


  7. Jack says:

    No I believe she should get an absence from church till we find out her situation. We all have fatual situations that make us blame God.we are only human and not perfect. The only human in history that was almost perfect was Jesus Christ. He walked the desert for forty days and nights fighting the devil. So u see it does take more than one day.I say her Bishop or religious leader get with her and find out if possible for her to come back to God,if not than she needs to give up her letter to church.

  8. eric karukin says:

    If Vosper doesn’t believe in God, she should leave and go start her own church. THAT IS THE ONLY SOLUTION

    1. Cable Flame says:

      Or join another church or organization that already exists that doesn’t require a belief in God. And her congregation has already done that, even before the UCC ruling… They joined the Oasis Network.

    2. Bob says:

      Thus speaks Eric in capital letters!

      1. Brother John says:

        At least it’s not another FINAL SOLUTION

  9. Rev. Don says:

    If we agree that God is love, and God is within all people, and she teaches love and human connection, isn’t she teaching God’s new covenant? Is dogma the stumbling block here? Is she not teaching the lesson of loving thy neighbor as thyself? Isn’t that what Jesus said is the new covenent? God is not a finite thing, but an event.
    However if her congregation is wanting dogma, perhaps she should move on and teach to those who have ears to hear.

    Rev. Don

    1. The Right Reverend Greb says:

      As Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his journals, “. . . in order to be a good minister it was necessary to leave the ministry.” What he meant is precisely what you’re referring to. When dogma becomes more important than mystery, when a church claims to have all the answers, when spirituality is defined by limits rather than possibilities, vanity and intolerance follow.

  10. hsw says:

    It sounds like she’s been effectively leading this congregation for nearly 20 years as her own beliefs evolved. According to the article she has strong support within her congregation. According to the article, she “fully embraced atheism” a few years ago – and continued to effectively lead her congregation.

    Is the messenger more important than the message? It sounds like the message she preaches is one that resonates with her congregants – not sure I see the problem.

    As for drawing a circle and placing a dot in it, not all religions worship a god. Some are without a diety, some have more than one.

    There’s a place for everyone – and she seems to have found hers.

    1. Jeanie says:

      I think their church does believe in God. I think it’s a conflict for her. I don’t think it’s honest and authentic for someone who doesn’t believe at all, not at all, to say things they truly don’t believe. It’s not fair or fruitful for the parishioners and that is who should be considered most here. She should be asked to speak from time to time as she has positive messages to share. But as an employer, the church shouldn’t have someone who is faking it simply because they have other things to share. It’s a church, they have a belief system, their ministers should work within the confines of their church beliefs.

      1. hsw says:

        Can you elaborate on what you believe she said that she didn’t believe? I read the article several times and all I could find was honesty and authenticity. Didn’t see anything anywhere that suggested she was “faking it.” What did I miss?

    2. Raymond says:

      Amen to that
      Followers of Jesus
      To love

  11. mushishikin says:

    I’ll guess the universalist church would have a place for her or she can start her own thing like thousands of of other Sunday morning speakers, carry on weddings and funerals, etc.

  12. Pastor P. says:

    What is wrong here? Perhaps this is a chance for the congregation to find in their hearts and minds a way to embrace questioning. A chance to journey along an other path. Perhaps, this is the point of her actions. This is a chance to take faith out if the theoretical and into the practical. For all those involved.
    Isn’t this a situation we can all identify with?
    Speaking out of my own spiritual journey I’ve been better for constant examination.
    I say, let her lead us all in coming to an understanding of faith and God.

    1. Jean Hill says:

      I can certainly identify. I have been at both ends of the spectrum many times during my life. Still searching.

    2. Jeanie says:

      I understand your reply and agree with what you say for yourself and others, but the job of a minister in a church, and it is a job, is to spread the message put forth by the institution. It would be ok for a minister to raise topics that question all kinds of things including if there’s a God. But this minister has declared being an atheist which means she can’t sincerely represent this church and bring something to the parishioners, specifically the message of God when she firmly believes there isn’t one. I think she should be invited to speak her loving messages though.

      1. Cocojohn says:

        If it is a Christian Church then it should be a God and Christ believing person pastoring it. If the congregation wants her to stay, then they are no longer a church. Very sad, but we all are entitled to choose our path.

    3. Brother John says:

      Excellent post, Pastor P!! Without constant examination; dogma, superstition and bigotry replace rational thinking, basic morality, and conscience.

  13. MG"4"B ∞ Möbius says:

    The only Faith leader that I personally need is the holy spirit. When in doubt go with out but not ever without the holy spirit.😇

  14. James Mounts says:

    GOD made religion, MAN made churches. For those on their own journey it matters not who pretends to lead us. Stay or go, will make no difference.

    1. mega says:

      Dont remember ever reading about god coming down from the clouds to make religion. Some dudes just said god spoke to them. Now days thats called schizophrenia

      1. James Mounts says:

        The very fact (or faith) of God’s existence creates religion whether or not you remember it.

      2. James Mounts says:

        The fact you believe God lives in the clouds constitutes a religion, Deny it if you like

    2. Therese Cummings says:

      I disagree with your statement that God made religion… I believe MAN made religion. if you read the bible it clearly says that the church is made of the PEOPLE. so it doesn’t have to be a brick and mortar place. it could be under a tree as long as the believers of the bible are congregated there to worship him. all the different religions and their rules are not necessarily of God. I believe that man made up these rules. all God wants is for us to love and worship him and for us to love one another as Jesus loved us. none of the rituals that go along with individual religions. just my opinion and belief.

  15. Brother John says:

    Assuming the title of her first book, “With or Without God: Why the Way We Live Is More Important Than What We Believe” accurately describes Volper’s mindset, it seems like the issue is more about church hierarchy and dogma than what she preaches. The article indicates that her message continues to be well received by her congregation.

    “In lieu of references to God, her messages from the pulpit invoke love, kindness and human connection”. I have posed this issue a number of times as the biblical God is portrayed as far from loving, kind and forgiving. Christ is the namesake of the Christian religion and yet many Christians continuously refer to the barbarism of the Old Testament, rather than the teachings of their proclaimed Saviour, for moral guidance. It seems as though Vosper is focusing on the message of Jesus, not Moses and the OT, which is laudable.

    Equally important is the definition of Atheism, which is commonly misunderstood, particularly by theist believers.

    “Simply put, atheism means the absence of theistic belief. That’s it. It doesn’t mean anything else. Atheism is not a religion, a philosophy, a worldview, or anything similar. It is not the conviction that there are no gods, ghosts, angels, etc. Rather, it is the absence of a belief that these things are real…Atheism is nothing more than the lack of belief in a god or gods.”

    Source: http://www.atheistrev.com/2009/04/what-is-atheism.html

    The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings.

    One only need to grasp the diversity of Christian denominations to understand how man made doctrine, dogma and hierarchy have fractured Christianity over the centuries, often pitting one against the other with horrific results.


    1. hsw says:

      Thank you for the needed clarification. I had to chuckle at the comments suggesting she “start her own church.”

  16. mega says:

    She must have read the bible. I know heaps of christians who decided its all a load of bull once they got around to reading and trying to understand all the compromised teachings of the multiple versions.
    Doesnt happen as much in islam cos nothing has changed since they have been torturing and killing off homosexuals, non virgin women and avoiding pork cos they once had no idea how to cook it without getting worms. Also they preach that it is the biggest sin ever to convert.
    Personally i have a lot of respect for her doing what she is doing. Showing that we no longer need to be governed by religion to be peaceful. In fact a world full of athiests would be much safer. war would only be between right and wrong instead of being between 2 religions with a difference of opinion. Also any alteria motive for war would be much easier to see if we weren’t blinded by hate between religions.
    2 thumbs up Gretta. Welcome to the new world of unforced love, respect and tollerence among all earths living beings. Peace 😜

  17. Swany says:

    With all do respect it is time for Gretta to Go! This issue has nothing to do with religion. In America we are free to join clubs, groups, associations with like minded people to support, share beliefs, values, genders, skills whatever etc…..We have men’s groups, women’s groups, AA, car clubs, Scouts, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, I am sure there is a group for any interest and that’s okay! Think how silly it would be if Gretta stood in front of an Atheist group and said I have a right to preach and I want to belong but I have one problem, I have a strong faith in God! Why wouldn’t Gretta surround herself with her mew interest in life! Who knows maybe one day she would change her mind again I’m sure she would be welcomed back! After all that’s what God does!

  18. Jeanie says:

    I think that she would serve better by being an invited guest from time to time preaching her positive message. As for leading the church, there’s a most definite conflict, and dogma is a factor in church and people are not just listening to messages about love, but also the concept and understanding of God and His word according to this church. She should resign and recreate another kind of relationship with this church so it can be something good with no unnecessary loss or negativity. There are other places she can go to or create on her own to spread her specific beliefs and messages. A Rabbi has messages of love for humanity but he wouldn’t lead a church due to conflicting beliefs, therefore, she must step down due to significant conflicting beliefs.

    1. hasheart says:

      Rabbis don’t ever lead Churches, but synagogues or temples, Jeanie

  19. Dark Gray says:

    I have no problem with this lady being an atheist pastor. Sounds like she has a pretty incredible message that she presents; I’d like to hear one of her sermons. However, according to the UCC website: ‘United Church ministers are required to be in “essential agreement” with the 20 Articles of Faith set out in The Basis of Union.’

    If she does not subscribe to the most basic tenet of the church’s belief — a belief in “the one only living and true God” (Article I of the Basis of Union) — then she ought not claim to represent them. If I, for example, went into an Arby’s restaurant, I’d be pretty upset if all they offered were Chicken McNuggets, Quarter Pounders, and Big Macs — false advertising, you know.

    If her congregation really likes her that well, they ought to vote to leave UCC and go independent or something. I would wish them all the luck in the world with that. (And if she needs some sort of church backing to give her credibility, I’ve heard there’s a church or Monastery or something that’ll ordain you online . . .)

    1. jackie says:

      i like the way you stated your comment, & i agree. if one claims the title, rights, and privliges of a group then they must adhear to said groups rules. i see no reason for discussion, she must go set up her own worship center and those who agree with will follow.

    2. Cable Flame says:

      Actually, her congregation has already voted to become part of the Oasis Network (of secular humanist congregations) in case the above decision happened.

      And her answers to essential agreement were given in a long defense before a UCC board and can be read on her website, including how she defines God. They didn’t just find out she was an atheist and kick her out. There was procedure. (But the article above doesn’t really go into that.)

  20. Brother John says:

    It seems as though the United Church of Canada is more progressive than many other denominations. The following is directly from their website…


    “Jesus welcomed everyone, whether they were poor, rich, or just getting by; ill or healthy; self-made or educated; popular or a loner; secure or full of doubts.”

    “The United Church of Canada prides itself on welcoming everyone the way Jesus did, regardless of age, race, class, gender, orientation, or physical ability.”

    “The United Church celebrates the marriage of

    same-sex couples
    previously divorced people
    couples of different religions
    all people who believe in Jesus Christ and want to live faithful to his way”

    “God is greater still and works in our world by a mysterious Spirit that knows no distinction at the doorway of a Christian chapel; Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh temple; Aboriginal sweat lodge, Muslim mosque, or Jewish synagogue.”

    “Today, difference is everywhere around us and, we believe, a great cause for celebration.”

    “Caring for one another was central to Jesus’ teachings: Feed the hungry, satisfy the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit those in prison.”

    “There are no restrictions on gender, sexual orientation, age, or marital status for any branches of ministry” Wikipedia

    “Remembering that Jesus was reported to have welcomed tax collectors, prostitutes and other “undesirables” to his table, the church attempts to welcome everyone, regardless of age, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or physical ability. In the same manner, there is also no restriction on those interested in entering ministry”. Source: Wikipedia

    “The church believes that there are many paths to God. The United Church’s path is through Jesus Christ, but the church also recognizes that Christians’ understanding of this is limited by an incomplete comprehension of God; their belief is that the Holy Spirit of God is also at work through other non-Christian faiths.” Source: Wikipedia

    This last statement seems to sum up the controversy. “An incomplete comprehension of God” is not incompatible with Atheism, particularly in it’s mildest form. Her focus on the teaching of Jesus (love, kindness, human connection) rather than a strict adherence to church dogma and hierarchy may be the source of the conflict.

    As the UCC allows gay marriage and clergy, as opposed to many other Christian denominations who choose to condemn it, now would be a good time to honestly and openly explore whether beliefs and dogma are more important than how we treat our fellow human beings. In this case, it’s based on the teaching of Jesus, not Moses or the biblical God that many people find abhorrent and barbaric.

    As stated on their website… “Today, difference is everywhere around us and, we believe, a great cause for celebration.” The UCC can either use this opportunity to continue to celebrate and embrace differences or allow it to be divisive and controversial. This decision also applies to her congregation.

    1. J Coop-Klamer says:

      Well stated!

      “Ecclesia” refers to ‘the work of the community’. This is about how the community lives together and what they do together. From one perspective, if the congregation is in its actions, then if the congregation is living better, the pastor is effective. If it is truly ‘inclusive’ of all beliefs, then that reasonably includes welcoming, affirming, and celebrating humanistic views and even those with no god equally.

      The pastor’s responsibility is simply to guide and protect the flock, not dictate what the flock is to think, or believe. Belief is a subjective experience. The problem with the American Christian experience is that the congregants attend worship for selfish and self-centered reasons. Most Christians in America want to leave feeling affirmed in their materialistic lavish lifestyles, uplifted and somehow ‘sanctified’ (superior) about their scapegoating (criticizing another to feel better about themselves). That’s why their ‘mega-temples’ clearly reflect their misunderstandings of the ministries of an ancient messianic prophet/teacher/rabbi their scriptures refer to as Yoshua Ben Yosef. From the brief accounts available, reason alone suggests the man they call Jesus was strongly opposed to religion.

      A pastor/minister could easily take scripture – IN CONTEXT – and rationally use it for inspiration, from the perspective that ‘the ancients believed …’.

      In organized religion, especially in the US, one might easily argue the proverbial ‘wolves’ have infiltrated and are sabotaging the actual gospel, for personal gain and power.

      1. J Coop-Klamer says:

        Awkward … “From one perspective, if the congregation is in its actions, then if the congregation is living better, the pastor is effective” should read, “From one perspective, if the congregation is charitable and altruistic in its actions, and if the congregation is living better collaboratively, then the pastor is effective.”

        (Wish I would have proofed a little better, sorry.)

  21. Phoebe Bermil says:

    I think that if she is still teaching love and kindness and “do no harm” then who are we to judge her spirituality and beliefs? In fact, who are we to judge her at all??? If her congregation supports her then where is the harm in any of this??? Love sent!!!

  22. Brian H Davies says:

    I believe that being a Methodist, Catholic, Anglican is only a label almost like saying I’m a Rotarian. If her godliness is the same a goodliness then her god whether it be Christian, or something similar to that of First Nations, or Aboriginals who are we to condemn a person who preaches love, care and goodliness. The God of all faiths has enough worries about wars, disease, and corruption that such a minor incident is not worthy of being smote by a bolt of lightning or a severe proverbial kick up the tail end. It is the grumpy self serving church elders who are the cause of more people attending football games than going to church. Frankly I don’t want to hear that I’m a sinner as do a lot of others, many want to hear the good news and all of us are capable of being good news creators.

    1. Brother John says:

      Great comment, Brian!! Very few, if any, Christians would be able to clearly explain why the Christian denomination they’ve chosen from the thousands available is the “right one”. However, many are quick to denounce “non-believers” as sinners and unworthy of the “God of all faiths” (as you eloquently put it).

  23. Alba campuzano says:

    If she doesn’t believe in God she need to leave.she is preaching something she didn’t believe.

  24. Robert Walimuminun says:

    Don’t really understand how you can be a leader in an organization that iis predicated on the belief in God if you don’t have that belief! This iis not to say that changing your belief is wrong. We are all free to believe whatever we want. But you could not be a general if you did not agree with war,nor could you coach football iif you did not believe iin tackling. For certain positions, there are requirements for leadership. This woman could start her own group of atheists and let the church move on as it should but there is no way I can see for her to continue in a Christian setting while countermanding the prime Christian belief!

    1. J Coop-Klamer says:

      You mean you can’t see her continuing as your pastor, or in your understanding of your Christian beliefs, right?

      Telling people how and what to believe is antithetical to the concept of a personal experience with the Divine, or any deity. Congregation is defined by what we do together, not by what any one member thinks. We are not automatons.

      The strength of any organized religion is the ‘ecclesia’ (‘assembly’), which was a Greek concept long before it was ‘Christian’. As reason leads some to more humanistic or even atheistic beliefs, and if the congregation supports and embraces that leader, then her assembly is still an effectual congregation.

      I applaud her ability to apply reason and use the ancient Christian tales and concepts – in context – to strengthen and build the community around her.

      1. Brother John says:

        Bravo, J Coop-Klamer!! Unfortunately, religious dogma, tradition and adherence to Bronze Age beliefs does require the participation of automatons and the suppression of reason and rational thought. Fortunately, most of us are now able to question dogma and beliefs presented as facts without the traditional and barbaric punishments for heresy.

        Thank you for your thoughtful, well written posts. I look forward to reading more in the future.

  25. Rev. JASON Durden says:

    You can’t teach someone about something you don’t believe. How can you fully sympathize with someone when you think their belief can’t be true as an atheist would? You don’t bellies my doctrine or my faith but yet you can stand before me and minister to me? No. if I don’t believe in music theory, how can I fully teach you music?

    1. J Coop-Klamer says:

      Not all Christian beliefs can be cookie cutter formed and packaged, then sold as the only ‘Christian’ belief system. There are Christians who prefer to think for ourselves, and some even question what other self-appointed/self-professed authorities tell their congregants to believe.

      Perhaps your comments would be more founded from a first person perspective. (“I can’t teach someone about something I don’t believe …”) From my perspective and the few details, she is offering her perspective to an already established and active community which accepts her wisdom and guidance. Therefore, if her reason and more humanistic approach is strengthening an already inclusive community, then I would argue she is quite an effective pastor of a congregation.

      1. Brother John says:

        Thank you for your rational, thoughtful comments, J Coop-Klamer.

      2. Brother John says:

        Early Christians were treated as far more radical than Vosper. It’s ironic that Christians would disparage her enlightened and progressive approach in light of their namesake’s legacy of challenging the establishment and hierarchy of the day.

  26. John Owens says:

    This is ridiculous. You can’t be a minister of the non-existent god. You certainly can’t draw a paycheck from an organization which claims to serve a real One if you don’t believe in the real One. In danger of being defrocked? Get out! Her FROCK should have been yanked at the first inkling of this.

    1. Brother John says:

      There are tens of thousands of ministers of a non-existent god, John Owens.


  27. COREY FURMAN says:

    An Atheist wants to stay in a pulpit, and Christians wonder whether or not this is a thing that should be. This is the single craziest thing I’ve heard of in some time.

  28. Amber Fry says:

    As long as she can keep supporting the congregation and teaching the religion without prejudice I don’t see why not. People in respected religious positions change or loose and find whatever version of God they held all the time. Now if she begins to demand there is no God then yes, she should remove herself.

  29. Minister Sheila says:

    Perhaps she should step down from the pulpit, but stay within her congregration for support.
    God works in many ways.

  30. DrRGRRivera says:




    John 20:29.
    Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!”
    Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me,
    you have believed;
    blessed are those who have not seen, and [yet] have believed.”
    1 Peter 1:8
    Though you have not seen Him,
    you love Him; and
    though you do not see Him now,
    you believe in Him and
    rejoice with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

    1. Brother John says:

      Who are “THEY”, DrRG? Her congregation or the church hierarchy?

  31. KeriAynn says:

    She should voluntarily step down so that those who are continuing in the faith can be spiritual fed from a place of joint belief in God. She & whomever of her followers can meet on their own, but not on the Church’s time or dime–because im sure she’s holding a paid position in the church.

  32. Cyndi Green says:

    She should willingly leave a foundation addressed to God, without coercion appearing to be a hidden agenda. If she has enough followers, then she already has her own church. It’s all about going where the path leads, not confusing those seeking where they were told they could find what they were looking for, only to be straddled with a confusion. With books that employ the idea that religion is not lead by God, and that God is imaginary, she shouldn’t lead a Christian body. Truth is power, Love is what life is about, but don’t lead what you don’t believe in.

  33. Rev. Miguel Denyer says:

    I’d like to add my two cents:

    Someone who questions their faith and who is undecided in what they believe or whether or not God exists, is called an Agnostic.
    However, someone who declares themselves “Atheist” have made the decision that for them at least, there is no such thing as deity – for them, God does not exist.
    So, for an atheist to hold a position as an ordained minister, that is the height of hypocrisy – how you one hold a position within a system that, for them simply doesn’t exist?
    Worse still, is a person who uses the faith of others purely for financial gain – such mercenary behavior should be frowned upon by the church – holding a position of trust (yes, as ordained ministers, we are trusted with the faith of those in our flock) purely for financial gain, is both hypocritical and mercenary and should definitely not be allowed. There comes a time when trying to take the politically correct stance simply won’t do and one must call it for what it is.

    If Vosper has declared herself Atheist, then she is not “questioning her faith”, rather she is declaring herself devoid of faith and should therefore stand down.

    1. Cable Flame says:

      One can have faith without a God. They’re separate concepts. She’s not devoid of faith, simply of a God. She has a very strong faith in things that aren’t God. She believes in goodness, kindness, love, compassion, acceptance, diversity, justice. And it’s her faith & her desire to serve the people that leads her to be a minister, not merely financial gain. (There are far better and easier ways to make money than being a minister in this style of church. It’s not like a televised megachurch preaching a prosperity gospel & taking money from people.)

      In fact, the very church that hosts this website does not require belief in God and has many atheist ministers. And the Unitarian Universalists do not require a belief in God of their laity or their ministers. And there are many secular humanist organizations who have leaders as well (although many do not identify with the word “faith” or “minister” and choose other words instead.)

      1. Rev. Miguel Denyer says:

        As I said in response to another comment on here:
        I’m having difficulty in understanding this… the definition of being ordained with regards to theology, is to have had holy orders conferred upon you – so I’m having a difficult time negotiating the logic behind accepting that one has been ordained by a system that is purportedly governed by a deity that one does not believe exists… that logic simply doesn’t compute… that, to me, is like saying I want coffee every morning but I don’t believe coffee exists.
        Like the saying goes… you can’t have your cake and eat it too… if you don’t believe in God, how can you preside over religious ceremonies that would, for all intents and purposes, be patently false?
        I get it, we now live in a world where it is all inclusive, where people expect reward without risk or effort, but how can one say “I want to be blessed by or otherwise receive benefit from a deity in which I do not believe exists” – to me that is hypocrisy. I don’t think there is any evil involved or any wrongdoing – but I do believe that it may be spiritually harmful to preach faith to others when you yourself have none… it is basically living a lie… but that’s just my opinion which, counts for nought so I guess I’ve nothing more to say on the matter.

        1. hsw says:

          I can only assume you didn’t read the article, as none of your objections actually exist.

        2. Minister Norman says:

          Couldn’t agree more!

          1. Minister Norman says:

            Odly… My post seems to have moved. I was agreeing with Rev. Miguel Denyer!

          2. Minister Norman says:

            …That is “Oddly”!!!

        3. Brother John says:

          What entity conferred your “holy orders”, Rev. Miguel?

          I am an atheist and was ordained by the ULC and am not alone in this. Contrary to what you’ve said, we can “preside over religious ceremonies”. Your concept of atheism may be incorrect. There’s a big difference between lacking belief in a god, and denying that any god exists.

          You’re also off base by inferring that Vosper has no faith.

          BTW… I appreciate your humility in stating that your post is only your opinion.

    2. Jim Hopps says:

      Devoid of faith equals devoid of God to you it seems, Miguel. There may be ways to prove this. But just asserting it isn’t sufficient.

  34. Rev. Catherine Paxton says:

    Rev. Catherine Paxton
    It cannot be all inclusive when it comes to this for many reasons. While she seems to have the respect and love of her congregation, I believe she cannot serve in the same capacity. Perhaps she could start a Humanist Center where she can continue her word and help many others who struggle…struggle even with the word “church”. Love, above all else, would be just what many need now. Personally, I wonder how a person who has believed in God, or the Universe…different names…. changes their mind. Curious to me.

    1. hsw says:

      God, the Universe, apples, oranges. I ceased to believe in any god decades ago, as a fiction created by men. The Universe exists. It is visible. It is provable by science.

      In the same way that children believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny, ceasing to believe in a god is really easy.

      1. Brother John says:

        Concise, accurate and rational, hsw.

  35. K Turner says:

    In my opinion she should leave also. How can you minister to a flock if you don’t believe. Start your own congregation based on what you do not believe.

  36. J Coop-Klamer says:

    After 20+ years of active Christian ministry, I definitely relate with Gretta Vosper’s faith evolution. My philosophy and theology studies have exposed me to reality, and have taken the magic and mysticism, common among the ancients, completely out of my thinking. Today, I identify as an apostate and militant agnostic. “I don’t know, and you don’t either.” From one perspective, organized religion, particularly in the US is about power and politics. So, I’ve decided I’m done with any organized religion, and think I am a better person for it.

    The Catholic Church teaches there is no physical Hell, no eternal torment, and the events of The Revelation are about events which have already taken place (1st Century Jerusalem), not prophetical horrors yet to come. Since the Christian Bible, in its present from, comes directly from their work and various councils, I respect their understanding and authority on the textual development and authority.

    If there is no Hell, then there is nothing to fear when I go to sleep, and no death bed conversion is necessary. We have no need to frighten the children into being good with those scary stories any longer.

    As I started paying more attention to the red-lettered words, instead of what I was being told to believe, I understood the ministry of an ancient, radical rabbi referred to as Yoshua Ben Yosef, was to bring awareness to the suffering in those around me, while exposing the hypocrisy of organized religion. From my understanding and experience, it doesn’t take any god or deity to feel compassion and to do a little good for others.

    I firmly believe, if the congregation is inspired to live better together, and her use (or non-use) of the ancient tales – in context – challenge each other to do good in the community around them, then Vosper is an effective pastor and deserves to remain in her office/position.

    1. Brother John says:

      You make an excellent and often overlooked point, JC-K. The Bible was compiled and edited by the early Catholic Church. PROTESTantism (and the thousands of denominations it spawned) didn’t appear until centuries later.

  37. ssebandekejulius says:

    my view is the she needs to be preached counseled and know WHOM she is serving. 1John 2:22- 23, Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the Anti-christ–denying the Father and the Son. 23. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.She is Anti-Christ. You can’t give what you don’t have.

  38. Bill Millhouse says:

    I feel that she should voluntarily remove herself. A pastor is a teacher, just as a rabbi, or high priestess or high priest. How can she teach what she does not believe? I am a eclectic Wiccan priest and would never consider being the pastor of a Christian church or the rabbi of a synagogue. She should respect the beliefs of the congregation and leave.

    1. hsw says:

      The congregation wants her to stay.

      1. Arthur A. Simon Jr. says:

        Then her church is already formed. Her association with the UCC is largely a political arrangement. Render unto Caesar ….

        Better an amicable separation than strife that foments ill will.

        So let it be, and go in peace.

        Jesus bin Joseph went through this, and his new path changed the world.

  39. Arthur A. Simon Jr. says:

    This is not a difficult issue. A Pastor,a by his very nature, operates in a belief framework. A Catholic priest operates in one, the Baptist minister operates in another, and the Buddhist priest in yet another. The “church” is the association of those faithful who believe in and share that framework. When the Pastor can no longer accept the framework in which he functions, only one thing happens: a schism occurs, with the resultant conflict.

    It is not the individual’s personal belief that is in question, but whether the church as a whole suffers or benefits from the conflict. Martin Luther’s conflict with the practices of the Church are instructive here, as is the entire Protestant reform movement.

    The roads to salvation/understanding are many, and some are more narrow than others. She should create and walk her own path, accompanied by those who choose to follow, rather than try to make others accept her redefining of their faith.

    It is written: In my father’s house there are many mansions.

    1. eric karukin says:

      Amen to that

  40. Rev Benjamin says:

    No woman is to hold the title. Read the Bible. She can share the word spead the word and belive. But not be a Reverend or Pastor or teach Its a sad days that so many take the bible for profit $$. You don’t just give your time and heart to My Lord. If thats all you have to offer. You missed the goodness he delivers. One will never see the truth unless you hand over your Mind Body And Sole to the My Lord. ONLY then will you be gifted the seven gifts. Then you will know and see what Christianity is all about. Then you will see the truth!

    “The Church a place to worship. Until one submerses ones self so far it becomes a religious cult.
    Beware of the wolf before ye that leadeth his flock to slaughter the truth lies in ones heart.” Rev Benjamin E

    1. hsw says:

      Was I the only one wondering when this particular issue would show up?

      This isn’t high on the list, but it’s definitely on the list of reasons why I left any form of organized religion.

    2. eric karukin says:

      No woman is to hold the title. Read the Bible. She can share the word spread the word and believe. But not be a Reverend or Pastor or teach, I have heard this before elsewhere and know Pastors that firmly believe this to be the word of God.

      Can anyone tell me where in the Bible this is stated?

      1. hsw says:

        Yep – it’s 1 Timothy 2:12 Which would give me one more reason to disregard, as Paul would have gotten along quite well with the extreme fundamentalists of our time. It’s mostly in his writings that you can find anything that’s used to subjugate women.

        Not a fan of subjugation myself.

        1. eric karukin says:

          thank you, going to make this tonight’s subject at our home church meeting, it really needs to be discussed, Paul’s words, not Jesus’s will be an interesting conversation.

          I have been a christian for 7 years and this has always been an issue

          subjugation of woman in Christian belief hidden by most, but in most churches and other religions that practice this it is definitely not hidden and I personally find it offensive.

          As far as a non-believer being a pastor of believers, sounds like a scam to me

          1. Brother John says:

            How about these “men and women of God”, eric? They are ordained, know their scripture, use a Bible similar to yours and have millions of followers amongst them. Is it possible that any of them are scammers? How would you characterize their followers?
            Faithful? Gullible? True Christians? Deluded?



        2. Brother John says:

          Agreed hsw. Christians claiming the Bible as inerrant, the “living word of god” and a book of wisdom and truth, cannot disregard the parts they find unpalatable without discrediting the entire book. All of the authors included in the Holy Bible were supposed to be inspired by, and writing on behalf of, god. As a result, there are billions of moral, rational people who lack the belief that such a god exists.

      2. Brother John says:

        Here are a few that may not bar women from preaching, but are surely misogynistic, eric.

        Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
        Colossians 3:18; cf. 1 Peter 3:1 and Ephesians 5:22

        … I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man … For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
        1 Corinthians 11:3 and 7-9

        Let your women keep silence in churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
        1 Corinthians 14:34, cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3-9 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12

        1. Don Warren says:


  41. Rev. Joe says:

    I am ordained by the Universal Life Church. I chose this church because I see signs of what I believe to be Universal Life no matter where I look. A belief in “God” in this church is completely optional. How sweet is that? I think that we should all mind our own business and let Gretta Vosper and her church find their own solution to their problems and challenges. I am sure they will do fine. Just because we are ordained does not mean that our opinion is any more valid than that of anyone else. Let’s give our own biased opinion where it will do the most good and the least amount of harm, to ourselves.

    1. Don Warren says:

      Finally. A sane person. I am a atheist minister also ordained in 1968 in the ULC. I applaud you comment’s.

  42. eric karukin says:

    No woman is to hold the title. Read the Bible. She can share the word spread the word and believe. But not be a Reverend or Pastor or teach, I have heard this before elsewhere and know Pastors that firmly believe this to be the word of God.

    Can anyone tell me where in the Bible this is stated?

    1. Brother John says:

      Try Misogeny 6:66, eric

  43. eric karukin says:

    Actually it is a huge issue and it can be something to keep individuals from going to church

    1. Brother John says:

      A thorough reading of the Bible, along with studying it’s history, should be enough to keep some individuals from attending a traditional Christian church, eric.

  44. Rev. Ida M. Grossi says:

    Matthew 7:15-20King James Version (KJV)

    15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

    17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

    18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

    19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

    20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

    She should leave.

    1. hsw says:


      If those are your arguments they’re invalid. There is nothing about this woman that is false, evil, or corrupt. She’s been completely up front for years, and most of her flock want her to stay.

      1. Rev. Ida M. Grossi says:

        You are obviously not educated in the word of God. If you were, you would understand the scripture I posted. If you do not accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior and that he died for our sins, you will not be saved.

        John 14:6 (KJV)

        “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

        If you don’t believe in Jesus Christ or God you will not have salvation. People who don’t believe in God will lead people away from the Father. It’s simple.

        1. hsw says:

          Ida I expect I am far more educated in the bible, which I assume is what you refer to as the “word of God” than you. I am educated enough to know that it’s the word of man – many men actually – and has been altered so many times in the centuries since its inception that any “truth” has been muddied, at best.

          You are free to believe as you believe, but please don’t try to tell me or anyone else that your way is the only way – you don’t know that any more than I do.

          I don’t believe in your god, and I don’t lead anyone anywhere in a religious sense – nor does the pastor in question. She teaches love and compassion – if that’s at odds with your religion then you’re doing it wrong.

          1. Brother John says:

            clap clap clap clap, hsw!! I love it when posters assume they know more than others with no evidence.

    2. Brother John says:

      Although the ULC is all inclusive regarding membership, the Bible doesn’t seem to agree, Rev. Ida. We’re the Universal Life CHURCH. You can scroll up to another reply I’ve just posted for more biblical misogyny. Perhaps it’s you, not hsw, that could use some additional education regarding the “word of God”.

      Let your women keep silence in churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
      1 Corinthians 14:34, cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3-9 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12

      1. Don Warren says:

        Are you suggesting that women are not allowed to speak in church ? To minister or preach ? I am a atheist minister ULC ordained. Time to stop using the invisible friend in the sky as middleman. We are empowered to improved mankind with mankind.

        1. Brother John says:

          I find much of what’s in the Bible appalling and nonsensical, Don. I was simply replying to this condescending statement ……”You are obviously not educated in the word of God.”

          1. Donald Warren says:

            I am not educated in the words in the bible. They are words of man, ignorant and frightened.

  45. Don Warren says:

    She should leave that church and establish one one her own. I am a atheist minister in The Church of Man

    1. hsw says:

      This might sound as if I’m mocking you but I’m absolutely not – I’m just curious – what does an atheist need with a church?

      1. Donald Warren says:

        The “church” is a meeting place to review our members needs and solve the problems of the day. One on one without the invisible crutch of a god.

  46. Donald Warren says:

    I am ordained in the Universal Life Church and am an atheist. I minister through my on line church, “The Church of Man” thechurchofman.com (under upgrade and maintanence) I believe and teach that we are strong for each other and can raise yourself to a higher standard without the crutch of a non-existent god. We fall to our knees much too quickly instead of straightening our backs and solving the day to day problems we face.

  47. Mitchell Watrous says:

    I was once frequently bothered by a relative claiming to be an atheist. One day, I asked him how much of the Bible he had read. He responded that he had not read any of it. I told him that he had no valid basis for disclaiming God to my face since he had not investigated the Bible first-hand. I suggested to him that I would be glad to engage him in further “confrontations” about God if he did two things: Read the Bible … and then tell me what an atheist can do that a Christian cannot do. He has not responded … and he never will … because he will find out that there is absolutely nothing that an atheist can do that a Christian cannot do. Why? Because being a Christian does not give anyone “Superman’s Cape” … and Christians will sin just as much as Atheists will. The biggest difference is that a Christian can pray for forgiveness; whereas, an atheist feels no such compunction. Just because someone says there is no God … that will not allow them to be excused from their eternal “dirt nap” from which their is no reconciliation or future consciousness. Crank up the theologians … and then read: Matthew 10:28 … and in case you are a little milquetoast Christian, read this verse: Luke 22:36.

    1. Brother John says:

      Mitchell said, “there is absolutely nothing that an atheist can do that a Christian cannot do.” As there are thousands of Christian denominations, there are many interpretations of what constitutes a “Christian”, but here are some examples that may contradict your statement…

      * Accept the LGBTQ community without condemnation
      * Accept and recognize same sex marriage
      * Live a moral life without accepting Jesus as their saviour or the Bible as their moral guide
      * Use rational thought and scientific evidence instead of faith and belief
      * Accept that we are not God’s special snowflakes destined to eternal Heaven at death because of what we believe
      * Realize that all religions can’t be right, but could all be wrong
      * Accept that the Bible is not the “living word of God”, but rather written and edited by fallible men
      * Accept that there is no “original” Bible, only copies, of copies, of copies
      * Accept that the Bible is not inerrant, but rather contains thousands of errors, omissions and contradictions
      * Accept they don’t have all the answers and don’t explain the unknown with a God
      * Accept abortion and contraception as a woman’s right
      * Understand that Atheism means the lack of belief in a god, not the absolute denial they exist
      * Understand that Christians who lack belief in all gods but theirs are also atheists.
      * Accept that the Bible is a plagiarized compilation of ancient myths that preceded it

      1. Donald Warren says:

        Atheists do not belive a god exists. Egnostic doubt. Kind od hedging their bets

        1. Brother John says:

          Your statement that “Atheists do not believe a god exists” is not accurate, Donald. Although this may be your personal belief, it is a common misunderstanding and fuels the division between “believers” and “non-believers”. An all encompassing statement might be that atheists lack belief in gods and supernatural beings.

          “Atheism is usually defined incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Some dictionaries even go so far as to define Atheism as “wickedness,” “sinfulness,” and other derogatory adjectives. Clearly, theistic influence taints dictionaries. People cannot trust these dictionaries to define atheism. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as “there is no God” betrays the (mono)theistic influence. Without the (mono)theistic influence, the definition would at least read “there are no gods.”

          “The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints.”

          Source: https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/what-is-atheism

          Some common characteristics of atheists include….

          Lack of belief in any god or gods.
          Materialist — relating to the physical (material) world, not shopping at the mall.
          Prefers science over folklore.
          Prefers reason over superstition.
          Prefers evidence over dogma.
          Insists — in the United states — on keeping the practice of religion separate from government.
          Understands burden of proof, Russell’s teapot, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
          Often writes “god” with a lower case g.
          Lives in a completely godless world.
          Thinks the origin of the universe would be interesting to know, but not terribly important to everyday life.

          Source: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-main-characteristics-of-being-an-atheist

      2. Brother John says:

        No response, Mitchell?

  48. Kevin Zeller says:

    I am a Gnostic-Christian. We know that our predecessors came up with ” Jesus’ ” life story to illustrate just what it might mean to BE God on Earth. We believe in God; He is in us; He IS us… After all, ALL is God if everything came from divine One Source. What else is there? I mean, it’s not like there is other spiritual material from which One can draw in creating women & men, is there?! We are NOT the God of the Bible; He was called the “Devil” by our made up literary character who had these words put in His mouth, “Your Father is the Devil…” And, then “Jesus” goes on to say that their god is the “Father of Lies!” The Gnostic Father-God is a Power of God who resides safely ensconced in the Pleroma, or the fullness, of the Heavenlies. He may not appear “to be” because He’s too holy for us!

    If you live in San Diego & wish to explore our church, please write; kevinvonzell@gmail.com

  49. bandk@uppermerion.net says:

    That Church is a church of God. As she no longer believes in God, she should clearly understand that she can no longer be a shepherd to Christ’s flock, and leave – possibly opening up her own church. Christ’s flock is not humanist but believes in the power of God and our relationship to him, having one God, and Loving our neighbor as ourselves. That we can do no more, and that, Christians can not reassign the cause of our being to a materialistic and not a Spiritual cause.

  50. Kevin Zeller says:

    &… I almost forgot the MOST important part of my post: We believe in God, Our True Father, The “Power” of God, but KNOW that…
    http://jesusneverexisted.com WE MADE HIM UP AS A TEACHING TOOL for others to see what it could mean if a person were to be God walking on Earth. The gospels are very clever teaching tools, in that respect, but we KNOW that Mark was the very 1st one & even it is a Fantasy Novel written after the style of Homer in his creation of the Odyssey of the Iliad…! Just as Homer’s Hero kept his identity a mystery, so Jesus had what we call the Messiah Mystery where He asks His people “Do not divulge to others my true identity.” This may be part of the teaching here, that we are not to go about the world claiming to BE God, but mysteriously act as He.

  51. eric karukin says:

    I belong to the church of bended knee, and have been an ordained minister with ULCM for about 7 years. I am of Christian faith I can put this whole subject to bed real easy. If the individuals follow her that is their god given right, but it seems to me if they keep following her they may end up in a place they wish to avoid,, HELL

    God gave us free will and that is why in my opinion all of us need Jesus, he is the only one that can save anyone from HELL, but you got to want him

    That being said I have individuals I associate with Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Macuba, ETC… that have their beliefs that are different from mine and I can only share what I believe, I can not control what they do, say, or think.

    Reality is Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorie

    Go with GOD (JESUS)

    1. Brother John says:

      Not all Christians believe that God is Jesus, as you’ve indicated, based on scripture, eric.

      Matthew 24:36
      No one knows about that day or hour, not even the Son, but the Father only.
      Here Jesus makes a distinction between what he knows and what the Father knows.

      John 5:26
      For as the Father has life in Himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
      Jesus received his life from God. God received his life from no one. He is eternally self-existent.

      John 5:30
      By myself, I can do nothing: I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who has sent me.
      Jesus says, “by myself, I can do nothing.” This indicates that Jesus is relying upon his own relationship with God. He is not trying to “please myself” but rather is seeking to “please the one who sent me.”

      Matthew 6:9
      Our Father, which art in Heaven.
      He didn’t pray, Our Father, which art standing right here!”

      Matthew 27:46
      My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?
      Inconceivable if he is God the Creator.

      John 17:21-23
      . . .that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. . ..that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.
      In this prayer Jesus defines the term “to be one.” It is clearly accomplished through the relationship of two autonomous beings. Christian believers are to model their relationship (to become one) after the relationship of God and Christ (as God and Christ are one). Notice that “to be one” does not mean to be “one and the same.”

      Hebrews 1:3
      The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.
      Jesus is the exact representation of his being. I send my representative to Congress. He is not me, myself. He is my representative.

      James 1:13: When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt.
      Jesus was tempted in every way, but God cannot be tempted. This is why Jesus said, “don’t call me good, none are good, only God.

  52. Cyndi Green says:

    Having read a number of thoughts and perspectives on this matter, it appears that being ordained by ULC is simply a matter of business and not so much about faith or theology, granted there are a number of ordinations that uphold a Christian type base, and others who have a faith geared toward a path of love and generosity which are not of the basic Christian faith, yet there is clearly enough to make this merely a business. For that reason, I’d like to ask if the business side of it has comfort and fellowship without identifying with a deity? and if so, has it developed a fellowship of caring and sharing beyond the scope of business? if so, then the service itself is blessed in its own way, life moves on and religion takes a new phase or page in history. this leads to the true meaning of Namaste.
    In my own belief, there is a universe of which we are all part of, and inside of this is an embrace for everyone to become part of, regardless of your faith, or religion, as long as we harm none, and its for the greater good, then let it be 🙂

  53. Don Warren says:

    The preaching of man’s ability to prevail in all situations with the help of his fellow man is the message. We are powerful as a race of one’s throughout the world.

  54. Joe says:

    She need to go!

    1. Brother John says:

      Unless you’re a member of her congregation, or at the least, the United Church of Canada, Joe, who are you decide?

  55. Edward L Holcomb says:

    My first question that I would ask, is for her to describe the God, she does not believe in. In my evangelism an atheist can describe God. The description is a result of the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit, how can we tell if someone is permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit? [1Co 12:3 NIV] 3 …. and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. This was accomplished as what [Rom 10:9 RSV] 9 …. because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    Adam Clarke Commentary (Romans 10:9)
    Verse 9
    That if thou shalt confess, etc. – Acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior. Believe in thy heart that he who died for thy offenses has been raised for thy justification; and depend solely on him for that justification, and thou shalt be saved.

    Once saved always saved and you cannot lose your salvation. For as Eph 2:8-9 says it really well.
    [Eph 2:8-9 NIV] 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
    Adam Clarke Commentary
    Verse 8

    For by grace are ye saved, through faith – As ye are now brought into a state of salvation, your sins being all blotted out, and you made partakers of the Holy Spirit; and, having a hope full of immortality, you must not attribute this to any works or merit of yours; for when this Gospel reached you, you were all found dead in trespasses and dead in sins; therefore it was God’s free mercy to you, manifested through Christ, in whom ye were commanded to believe; and, having believed by the power of the Holy Spirit, ye received, and were sealed by, the Holy Spirit of promise; so that this salvation is in no sense of yourselves, but is the free gift of God; and not of any kind of works; so that no man can boast as having wrought out his own salvation, or even contributed any thing towards it. By grace arc ye saved, through faith in Christ. This is a true doctrine, and continues to be essential to the salvation of man to the end of the world.
    But whether are we to understand, faith or salvation as being the gift of God? This question is answered by the Greek text: τῃ γαρ χαριτι εστε σεσωσμενοι δια της πιστεως· και τουτο ουκ εξ ὑμων· Θεου το δωρον, ουκ εξ εργων· ἱνα μη τις καυχησηται· “By this grace ye are saved through faith; and This (τουτο, this salvation) not of you; it is the gift of God, not of works: so that no one can boast.” “The relative τουτο, this, which is in the neuter gender, cannot stand for πιστις, faith, which is the feminine; but it has the whole sentence that goes before for its antecedent.” But it may be asked: Is not faith the gift of God? Yes, as to the grace by which it is produced; but the grace or power to believe, and the act of believing, are two different things. Without the grace or power to believe no man ever did or can believe; but with that power the act of faith is a man’s own. God never believes for any man, no more than he repents for him: the penitent, through this grace enabling him, believes for himself: nor does he believe necessarily, or impulsively when he has that power; the power to believe may be present long before it is exercised, else, why the solemn warnings with which we meet every where in the word of God, and threatenings against those who do not believe? Is not this a proof that such persons have the power but do not use it? They believe not, and therefore are not established. This, therefore, is the true state of the case: God gives the power, man uses the power thus given, and brings glory to God: without the power no man can believe; with it, any man may.

    Since our salvation is a gift of God and not of works, it cannot be taken away from us since we are not greater than God who is the only one that could take the gift away. Since it is not by our works, we cannot lose our salvation. Permanency of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a fact.

    The rest is learning to walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ having fellowship with Him. The simplest way for me to explain it is in the 12 steps with scripture.
    12 Steps

    1 We admitted we were powerless over the addictive/compulsive behavior of ourselves and others, and that our lives had become unmanageable.
    Romans 6:16-23 2 Peter 2:19 Proverbs 5:22 John 8:34-36 Galatians 5:16-23
    2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves…the Lord Jesus Christ. Could restore us to sanity.
    Philippians 2:13 Psalm 51:10 Isaiah 40:31 Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 111:10 Galatians 2:20 Ephesians 3:16-18
    3 Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God through Jesus Christ.
    John 14:6 Hebrews 11:6 John 7:16-17 John 1:12-13 Isaiah 55:6-7

    4 Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    Proverbs 28:13 Psalm 32:5 2 Corinthians 13:5, Lamentations 3:40, Romans 12:3 Galatians 6:3
    5 Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    James 5:16 1 John 1:8-9, Psalm 32:3-5, Luke 15:17-18
    6 We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    Psalm 139:23-24, Ephesians 2:8-10, James 4:6-10, Psalm 32 5-6
    7 Humbly asked him to forgive and remove our shortcomings.
    2 Chronicles 7:14 Psalm 51:1-3, Romans 12:1-2 1 John 1:7 2 Corinthians 5:17 John 8:36
    8 Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
    Proverbs 16:7 Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:26, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
    9 Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
    Luke 19:8-9 Romans 12:17-18 Romans 13:6-9 Phil 2:14-15, Romans 12:21
    10 Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
    1 Corinthians 10:12 Proverbs 21:2, Psalm 139:23-24 (also review passages to step 4)
    11 Sought through prayer, meditation, and bible study to improve our conscious contact with God through Jesus Christ, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the strength to carry that out
    Romans 12:1-2, 2 Peter 1:2-11, Psalm 1:1-3, Ephesians 1:17-19,1 Timothy 4:15-16
    12 Having been spiritually renewed in Christ and having applied these steps in our own lives, we try to carry this message to others in need of it, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
    2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Romans 15:1-2, 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, John 5:16 Mark 5:19, Mathew 25:40
    If Gretta Vosper can say “Jesus is Lord” than Let God be God and leave room for Him to do the work. For there are only 2 commandments.
    [Mat 22:37, 39 RSV] 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. … 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

  56. Dr. Norman Gold says:

    The fact that her congregants support her is irrelevant to this discussion. Atheism is defined as heresy by all the major world religions. On what basis should any religion’s hierarchy allow a clergy person who is by definition a heretic to continue their role as a clergy person? Because the congregation likes and supports her? So let them go and form a study group where they can preach, and follow, all the messages of peace and love that they choose. But a church, or synagogue, or mosque, etc., is defined as a House of God, and functions as such. Without that God, there can be no such house.

  57. Charlie W says:

    What about people who were world leaders in faith who decided later that no longer Believe? Mother Teresa is the first person who comes to mind. What about Thomas Aquinas, Ansel of Canterbury, or countless of other theologians that begin with the premise of doubt as a basis for thier faith? Should people uncritically just follow or learn why they believe? Are we saying that atheist shouldn’t participate in church?

    1. hsw says:

      That’s an excellent question! I’m not sure anyone could honestly say they became terrible people because they lost or questioned their faith. Is a faith that can’t be questioned really faith, or just mindless conformity to the norm?

      As an atheist, I don’t exactly understand why most would want to participate in church, but in this case, the pastor has been part of this church community for decades, and as her beliefs changed, she has learned to speak a somewhat different language, based in love and compassion rather than dogma, but isn’t that what most of us want anyway? Jesus taught love and compassion, yet one of his followers in a post on this thread suggested that this pastor should be burned at the stake. For teaching what Jesus taught just because the doesn’t invoke the name of a diety?

      Her congregants want her to stay – the message she gives them obviously resonates with them as people of faith. What is so fearful or wrong about teaching love and compassion to followers of Christ? She’s not trying to change what they believe, if anything she’s reinforcing it in the most positive way possible.

  58. don hamlow says:

    Gods word the king james version is the word either people believe or not. no one has ever been able to proven it wrong in any way, not even the top scientest in the world no not even lawyers that has taken it to a court type cituation can not find one littlle mistake and history it self has proven it true so the king james verson of Gods word is the only real truth. if people believe it and live it and have eternal life or don’t believe it and go to hell is there own choice , God said by your words you are condemend or by your own words you are saved and will be judged by Gods own words. so commen sense tells me that any one who does not believe will go to hell by there own choice and can not blame know one else not even God for what they them self and the path they have chosen. as for me I believe Jesus is comiing again to take his people away and those that are left will be destroyed.

    1. hsw says:

      Why do you consider the king james version “the word”?

  59. Donald Warren says:

    I don’t understand why I must be saved ? From what ? I believe in the good in man and to find that in every man to make us all strong because of one another. We will all die and be dismembered for what what did in life. NOT JUDGED by man or invisible deities..Take responsibility for your life. Do good, be good, and help others to do the same.

    1. hsw says:

      “Do good, be good, and help others to do the same.” That is exactly what this pastor is doing so I have a hard time understanding why anyone is having a problem.

  60. Minister Norman says:

    God is the foundation of any “Church” or “Faith-Based” group; which is at the very core of FAITH itself. Take that away, and what’s the point? You are left with philosophy… Which is fine if that’s what you want, what you’re “about”, but it’s no longer any kind of denominational or non-denominational “Church” or “Faith-based” group. It then becomes a mere social group or philosophical gathering… Which again is just fine if that’s what you’re going for, but again that is not the point of having any kind of “Faith-Based” organization. This is absurd! What’s next, sporting events with “make-them-up-as-you-go-along “Rules”; or flexible morals and values because some folks find real ones inconvenient: No stealing, killing, or maming unless its inconvenient to your new found flexible values. This is like Common Core the “educational values” system that says 2+2 can equal whatever “The Group” agrees upon. Great, but try balancing your checkbook with that BS! This is a joke! Let’s dumb it all down, seems to be the real message here, or find in favor of those who dispise or have at very least come to disavow “Faith” all together… That’s the real message. If you are an atheist, then God Bless You, but go sell crazy somewhere other than inside a church, as a “Paster”; I mean REALLY? A “Faith-based Pastor” who is an atheist, is sort of like a Vegan Butcher… It’s a completely ridiculous concept. Argue the morals and ethics of eating meat, or even believing in god if you like, but please do it in your own place of parsing, business or “worship” or congregation. I believe she is (appears to be) a great “Councilor” of morals and ethics and values, which do not require “Faith in God”, but I also believe she forfeits the right to be a “PASTER” leading any (GOD) Faith-Based group by virtue of the fact that she no longer believes in the MAIN tenant of her “FAITH”, and of what any “Faith-Based” group is supposed to represent. Let’s hire criminals as Cops too (like that isn’t already a problem).

    1. Brother John says:

      Minister Norman said,
      “If you are an atheist, then God Bless You, but go sell crazy somewhere other than inside a church, as a “Paster”; I mean REALLY?”

      These people aren’t atheists, MN. They are preaching in a church and many of them (as you can see) have substantial congregations. No doubt there are many more who haven’t made it to YouTube. They are Christians, not Atheists. They reference a Bible similar to yours and believe in the same God. Some of Vosper’s sermons can be viewed on YouTube. Watch and compare. Who’s “selling crazy”?

  61. hsw says:

    First, if you’re going to misspell (twice) the word that is at the core of your points, it’s probably better not to put it in all caps.

    But what I really want to say is that you are the worst kind of self-involved so-called “Christian.” Not every faith subscribes to your god, and that does not make their beliefs any less “faith” than yours. Not every faith subscribes to only one god. Not every faith even has a diety. That doesn’t make it any less “faith” than yours.

    Faith, at its core, is belief in something for which their is no proof. I believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the existence of life on other planets, and even that people such as you can be redeemed, if your desire to do so is strong enough. That is faith.

    You are free to continue to lead your narrow-minded life with your narrow-minded “faith” but kindly do not try to re-define the meaning of the word to justify your own prejudice.

  62. william Fox says:

    It is a sign of the times. People want physical evidence to support their “faith”. Faith is the evidence. Before I join an organization I look at the basic beliefs. If they don’t fit my beliefs, I don’t join. If I later find that the beliefs are not practiced by the members, I leave. If there are no stated beliefs for an organization, then how can a leader change their beliefs so that they do not conform to those of the organization?

    1. hsw says:

      Who said anything about wanting physical or any other kind of evidence?

    2. Brother John says:

      You’re describing cognitive dissonance and bigotry, william. Protecting your beliefs from anything contrary to them. What if your long held beliefs are wrong? Is it better to be comfortable and happy with untruths, or uncomfortable with truth and reality? “Believers”, particularly the religious variety, often band together for comfort and common defence of their beliefs which are based on faith, not evidence or rational thought.

      1. DrRGRRivera says:

        Very good prognosis of the human condition, Brother John

        1. Donald Warren says:

          Is that a good thing to believe in the untruths ? Sounds weak and unable to face life as it really is. Would it not be better to face truths together and better ourselves as one body ?

  63. FrEggroll says:

    Unless one belongs to the United Church of Canada or to Greta’s congregation… Not your monkey, not your circus! It is an issue for that comnunity alone to decide.

    In the 5th century, St. Gregory of Nyssa said, “Concepts create idols; only wonder understands anything,”

    St. Augustine of Hippo said in the 4th century, ” If you understand it, it’s not God.”

  64. DeLeon Grabowski says:

    I believe the discussions and exchanges on this subject are extremely healthy when we read them with an open mind. We are reminded of the obvious, we are different each and every one of us. We can think and participate as individuals willing to see both sides of a situation. We can question beliefs and perhaps gain insight into our own ministry. I believe we all have a path to follow and mine started through Catholicism, and graduated to the new thought beliefs and today I find the old Shamanic system of being the direct channel to a Universal God works for me. As I see it Gretta Vosper is in transition in her beliefs, her ministry, and possibly in her life. I believe we should all support her to find not the “right” answer (that only feeds the righteous) but the “best” answer for her and her congregants. That would be highest form of faith.
    The best sermon I have heard to date, and I have been around the sun 79 times, was a Baptist minister on a Christian Radio station in Dallas Texas in 1993. He told his flock that morning that he would help them to find and follow God and Christ in their hearts and in their doings (living) and if he was successful they would not need him anymore. He encouraged them to do their homework and like a good parent hoped that someday would find the strength to live in their own Godliness. Yes organized religion has a place in society but are we not able to grasp the changes and challenges it represents? If not then we do not understand the true meaning of “ministry”.

  65. ed knisley says:

    I did not wade through all the comments, but I’ll just say that we consider ourselves to be followers of Christ. It is imperative that we follow Christ’s example and go forth in serving those who are less fortunate than we ourselves. Too many of these, particularly, television super church types emphasize our building more stately mansions (self serving). What was that little ditty about a camel and the eye of a needle?

    1. Brother John says:

      You didn’t specify who you meant by “we”, ed. I assume you’re referring to a Christian denomination you’ve chosen to affiliate with, not the ULC. There are many here who are not Christians.

  66. Minister Norman says:

    “PASTOR”… Their jack hole! …And I never trashed anyone elses faith or nonfaith… That Pathology’s all yours. And by the way I’m dyslexic, and it mostly manifests in spelling errors, and this phones spell check is also dysfunctional, so perhaps you’d like to trash me on that one too… THE POINT, the only point here (and this is all about a Christian Church, so get your facts straight), is that a “Christian” organization should be about CHRIST; not some nebulous ridiculous “Nothing”. How someone (anyone) who is an Atheist leads a self-avowed (and I’m not my saying it they are), “Oldest Protestant CHRISTIAN Congregation in Canada” is beyond ridiculous. Either they ARE Christian, or then they are not. And that’s fine, but you can’t be a Christian-Atheist, anymore than you can be a Vegan-Butcher, unless of course you’re insane! Or perhaps this is just more Christian bashing by the pseudo-intellectual “New Age” anything goes crowd… And BTW, that crap (NewAge) is older than Christ! I do realize in “LA-LA” everything is equal to everything else world (even if it is not) dream thinking has replaced any bastions of reality… And as Common Core would dumb it down, so to, too many are seeking to nebulize Faith, so that 2+2 really does equal “Whatever the crowd says it does”. If you’re an Atheist, fine, go be that! Why do Christians who are not inflicting their beliefs on you disturb you so? And why do you feel you need to inflict your beliefs or Non-beliefs on anyone else. This is a self-avowed “Christian Church”, and that’s what this is all about, or did you not read that part of the Blog? And those who choose to actually practice “FAITH” in GOD, in Christ, in something greater than themselves have the same rights you have, to seek, or even lambast beliefs. But you do not have a right to tell Christians or anyone else thst they must adopt yourviews on their religio. Trouble is, in this now self-indulgent, self-involved world (and I think ya need a mirror on this one), “Do What Thou Wilt” is fast replacing faith with some sort of Godless nothingness in the name of political and social correctness… But then its not really nothing now is it? Your agenda is showing! So go sell crazy someplace else! Just as you have a right to be a “Flying Spaghetti Monster”minion, Christians also have a right to practice their faith unmolested by Atheists and those who worship Aliens or Monsters, or nothing at all! Either argue the actual POINT (and no one ever said anything against anyone’s Religious or non-religious beliefs; I certainly didn’t… you invented that argument), so either get your facts/arguments straight, or then shut up! YES, I’m that kind of Christian, and I will fight back against anyone who would try to mandate my beliefs, either by coercion, shaming, political correctness, or by any other means. Be satisfied to beleive whatever you wish… And afford that right to others. You argue for the right to believe what you believe, but while trashing Christians… How Pathetic!! 😭😭😭

    1. hsw says:

      Sir you are in severe need of mental health treatment – or perhaps simply remedial reading tutoring – but I’m leaning toward the first one.

      i didn’t “trash” anything – my objection was and still is to your attempt to alter the definition of “faith” to be only that faith of which you approve. I have no issues with Christianity or any other faith, only with some followers who believe their way is the one true path, which you no more know for sure than any of the rest of us.

      In any case, I don’t spar with unarmed opponents, therefore I will leave you to yell at the walls or whatever else you can get to listen to your rants.

  67. Minister Norman says:

    PS: How about we have a Christian lead an Atheist Philosophical Group… Yeah, that’d last about a minute, because its not “Most Christians” who are intolerant of non-believers or those of other faiths, it is those whom by way of their unbeleif, their atheism, literally ridicule anyone of faith, and call that “Fair”, and feel justified for “putting stupid people still following Superstitions in their place”! How absolutely arrogant!

  68. Minister Norman says:

    BTW, I disagree with the idea that, “If this is not your congregation, then this is not your fight”. Christianity is under fire from too many “Outside Sources” these days; many of whom are (merely) out to destroy all faith. And the argument that this is good for the Church is only true if they retain their right to be what/whom they say they are, and hold on to what they claim to be all about: GOD/Christ… I do not take the Bible “Literally” as many do, and some would call me an apostate for that. That’s okay, I’m not trying to overthrow anything. I also do not believe Jesus was trying to start a new Religious; just reform one… As perhaps this situation may do. My whole point however, is that within the Christian Church there is most obviously room for many views and interpretations of Faith and God. Non-belief is not one of them: not in a “Christian Church” anyway. If you are a part of any group, then they should be about what they claim to be about, or then change what it is they say they are really about… A Non- believing, in God (Atheist), “Christian Church”, is most obviously (to anyone except the haplessly entrenched or ridiculously inclined), no longer a “CHRISTIAN” organization at all, and by it’s very definition. A “Grocery Store” that sells auto parts is not a “Grocery Store” either. Why is this even an argument? It’s a disingenuous one at best! Funny how so many Atheists say “Just leave us alone”, but will not return the favor!

  69. Minister Norman says:

    hsw… So you go to the last bastion of a scoundrel; so be it! Shows your hand, not mine. I am not/was not trying to “Define faith”, except what is and is not “Christian Faith”. That disturbs you because you are most obviously a disturbed person. See if you can follow along with this very simple concept: “Atheism” (a disbelief in any deity, personal God or Higher Power), is not “Christianity” (The belief in Jesus Christ as God manifest, made flesh)… They are total opposites. Just like Intelligent (which you are obviously not), and Stupid!

    1. Brother John says:

      Your definition of Atheism (“a disbelief in any deity, personal God or Higher Power”) incorrect. common and the root of much misunderstanding, MN.

      “Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Some dictionaries even go so far as to define Atheism as “wickedness,” “sinfulness,” and other derogatory adjectives. Clearly, theistic influence taints dictionaries. People cannot trust these dictionaries to define atheism. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as “there is no God” betrays the (mono)theistic influence. Without the (mono)theistic influence, the definition would at least read “there are no gods.”


      “Simply put, atheism means the absence of theistic belief. That’s it. It doesn’t mean anything else. Atheism is not a religion, a philosophy, a worldview, or anything similar. It is not the conviction that there are no gods, ghosts, angels, etc. Rather, it is the absence of a belief that these things are real…Atheism is nothing more than the lack of belief in a god or gods.”

      “Atheism comes from the Greek “a – theos,” and since the “a” prefix means “without” or “the absence of,” we must first make sure we understand theism. Theism refers to the belief that some sort of god or gods exist. A theist is one who accepts the theistic claim (i.e., some sort of god or gods exist). An atheist is one who does not accept the theistic claim. That is, atheism means “without theism” and refers to the absence or lack of theistic belief.”


  70. Phil Maxwell says:

    It is always interesting to me that the thinking people say–PERHAPS IT IS POSSIBLE–and the fundamentalists say—YOU’RE STUPID—SHUT UP.
    I’m not sure what the best answer is in this case, but the attitude suggesting ACCEPT MY LOVING GOD OR HE WILL DAMN YOU doesn’t sound very Christian to me.

  71. Minister Norman says:

    In a spirit of healing some of the contentiousness that occurred here around this issue, that I was also a part of, I apologize for my role.

    I am now also aware that some folks from the UCC are looking in on this Blog and all of our comments.

    With that in mind, I offer this…

    My beliefs are NOT by any stretch of the imagination, “Standard (cookie cutter) Christian beliefs”, so take them as you will… And judge my comments along with all the others accordingly.

    I have attended many seminars on “Faith” (including many at the Huntington Library and elsewhere), and after engaging in extensive Bible Study, and reading both detractors and apologists, found out just how that book came into being… In its many iterations. I have also read the works of so many other faiths and their Holy Books, and I do not now believe in any “One Way” to God or that there is a “lock” on enlightenment or salvation by anyone, by virtue of any belief system or otherwise…

    But I absolutely believe in GOD.

    For me that is the cornerstone of my life, and the key to all “Faith”.

    “Faith” is, or at least Symantecally has become synonymous with the belief in a deity (GOD or GODS), and faith is decidedly not Atheism. That’s not a slap or a put down of Atheism; it is merely a FACT!

    We must all (believers and non-believers alike) at least be true to what we espouse… in other words, “Practice what you preach, or don’t preach”… But at least be real about it!

    Just as believers cannot honesty espouse Atheist beliefs, likewise an Atheist cannot do justice to or serve Christian or any other religious beliefs.

    It just doesn’t work!

    Personally, (and Im sharing this, not inflicting it), I beleive TAO is the unmanifested ONE, and that Jesus is TAO/GOD made manifest.

    I consider myself a Christ-Taoist… Which is very foreign to many Christians. As such, I also do not believe those of no faith (in a deity or personal God, or who may believe in multiple gods) are lost, or damned or “going to Hell”!

    I think its all more different and loving, and logical than most care to believe.

    I also do not beleive we just popped into being; nothing ever has, so how logical is that assumption? And nothing, to date, has ever been created from anything not already here. Even Einstein said he believed in an “Intelligent Force in the universe, who’s logical language is mathematics”, but he absolutely refuted the concept or “idea of a Personal God”.

    In any event, I will not accept “hate” as any part of my “faith”; that any loving system of Intelligence or “God” is about HELL and revenge, and that practising & preaching “Forgiveness” is just a temporal thing.

    What I’ve argued for earlier is clarity of values within a particular faith that is supposed to have GOD at its center, a faith that I choose to follow a major part of, and is not offered as some nebulous nonexistent “other” (changeable yes; we can certainly argue or disagree on so many of the interpretations, and creeds, and even, or especially on the Bible or any “Holy Books” themselves), but the fundamental foundation of any God-centered church (Christian or otherwise), must be GOD!

    …And either remain so or then be replaced/transformed into something decidedly “different”.

    And that is absolutely okay, if that’s the desire or stated goal of this or any other organization… But I don’t believe that is true in this instance.

    Here, we have someone, an individual, who has chosen to disavow (or has lost faith in) the very essence of what she signed on for within this organization: To be a Pastor who preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    That’s no small thing, and it shouldn’t be negotiable.

    GOD is at the very core of what this particular faith is all about, and at the very heart of any “Christian” organization, or any other”Faith”.

    Ms Vosper’s is asking to continue to lead from within an organization she no longer supports, because she no longer beleives in what they are primarily about… GOD and GOOD!

    Oh she seems to have that second part in spades, but no longer the first.

    How can that ultimately be workable… “I just won’t talk about the elephant in the room”… Instead I’ll replace YOUR values and beliefs with my own. I find that very selfish. To NOT practice the fundamental “Truth” this organization is organised around in the first place is a dereliction of duty: The teaching that Jesus is the living manifestation of a God (she no longer beleives in).

    I was born into a Catholic Family, and found I could no longer follow/live their Dogma; so at 13 (prior to being “Confirmed” as a true Catholic), I left.

    I didn’t expect the Catholic church to accommodate my new found disbelief in their tenants and dogma, and I don’t believe anyone else has that right either.

    That’s all I’m saying, and as I said before, I really do not understand the issue here: It’s simple. Either you have faith and preach about GOD… Or then you don’t! …But don’t be a hypocrite!

    I wish Ms Vosper well with whatever outcome, and I wish the same to all of you in whatever you believe.

  72. Minister Norman says:

    Gretta Vosper is not a victim, and she’s also not as benign and innocent as so many have painted her!

    I did a bit more research on this and here’s a direct quote from “Pastor” Gretta Vosper, “We don’t talk about God,” Vosper said in an interview, describing services at her West Hill United Church, adding, “It’s time the church gave up on the idolatry of a theistic god.”

    She is most obviously and decidedly not just “An Atheist of ‘personal’ conviction who is preaching love and joy”, as so many have sought to falsely declare (and she’s no victim of intolerance), but is in fact radically intolerant herself; an aggressive Atheist whom is decidedly and deliberately seeking to destroy faith in Jesus Christ within her own congregation, and overthrow the very foundations of her church.

    She now opening disavows all things “Christian” and openly expresses her Atheist views to her parishioners, and not merely by omission as has been suggested, or by quietly leading her congregation in love and peace as has been very much represented here.

    Gretta Vosper is very radically now Anti-Christian, but is still “leading” (where?), a Christian Congregation: What is she still doing there?

    1. Brother John says:

      I doubt that Greta needs the UCC for her income, or to accept her beliefs, MN. She is both a published author and speaker. Those who disparage her beliefs (or lack of them) are advised to spend some time on her website (linked below) and read her own words. Those who prefer “the idolatry of a theistic god” have many denominations from which to choose.

      “For the most part, my denomination – one I consider to be the most progressive in the world – tolerates me as I continue to irritate it toward publicly stating what so many who lead within it believe: god is a metaphor for goodness and love lived out with compassion and justice, no more and no less.”

      Source: http://www.grettavosper.ca/about/little-bit/

      Here’s a short clip of Greta at the pulpit….


      Here’s a collection of evangelical preachers. For those who believe Vosper is too extreme and unfit to represent Christianity, how about these “men and women of God”? I guarantee you that many of them have congregations far larger than Vosper’s, and are affiliated with mainstream churches.

  73. Rev. Donna says:

    Jesus said: All are welcome.

  74. Brother John says:

    To those who think Vosper should be removed for her honesty, what do you say about the United Church of Canada itself? The UCC accepts homosexuals as both clergy and congregants. It also performs same sex marriage. Do you consider this a Christian church?
    If not, your objections are neutered. If so, do you agree and does the church you’ve chosen do the same?

    Excerpts from “What We Believe” from the UCC website….

    “Yet we also know the various books that make up the Bible are the stories of two ancient communities trying to be faithful to God under difficult circumstances-ancient Israel and the early Christian movement-and some of what was experienced and written then doesn’t fit with today’s world. We don’t condone slavery, for example, or stone those who commit adultery.” It’s apparent that this also includes homosexuals and disobedient children.

    “The United Church of Canada prides itself on welcoming everyone the way Jesus did, regardless of age, race, class, gender, orientation, or physical ability.” Rightfully so, the emphasis seems to be on the teachings of Jesus, not Moses.

    “Jesus welcomed everyone, whether they were poor, rich, or just getting by; ill or healthy; self-made or educated; popular or a loner; secure or full of doubts.” Many consider Atheists to be “full of doubt”.

    1. Brother John says:

      No replies from the Christians believers on this site? I posed two simple questions.

  75. Sara weaver says:

    Wow! My beliefs have changed a lot over the years. I have an M.Div. from the Church of the Brethren (1968) and have found a home in the U.C.C..I am not a pastor but have been an involved member for a long time. I find it increasingly difficult to call myself Christian because or the doctrine of the trinity and the resurrection.Thus,I don’t believe that I could pastor a church where those two tenets were a basis for belief and membership. So. I think our sister should resign and leave it to the congregation to follow her if they wish .Shalom,Sara.

  76. Minister Norman says:

    YES Jesus did say that, as congregants, absolutely!

    However, if Jesus employed “Pastors” who did not believe in him or his message, then it’s doubtful we would even know his name today, let alone his teachings: And that seems to be the point!

    That is a disingenuous argument. Don’t you see how absurd this is?!

    No one is hating on Gretta Vosper, but her actions could be taken as hatefulness toward “believers”, whom she sees, in her role as a “Christian Pastor”, as foolishly Superstitious… Her words and actions, not mine!

    Maybe next we can employ doctors who do not believe in any kind of medical intervention, or Teachers who believe Education is a waste of time.

    This just isn’t workable. If she was merely a congregant, then no one should ask her to leave, unless of course she was being disrespectful and disruptive. And in truth that is exactly what she is now become toward her pointedly “Christian Congregation”, Disruptive and very decidedly disrespectful.

    Gretta Vosper needs to practice her Atheism on her own, or start her own place of “Worship”, and outside a Christian Church.

    1. Brother John says:

      MN, hyperbole like this, “Maybe next we can employ doctors who do not believe in any kind of medical intervention, or Teachers who believe Education is a waste of time” is bordering on ignorance and weakens the point you’re trying to convey. The UCC accepts homosexual clergy and performs same sex marriages. Is this contrary to what you believe are Christian values and god’s commands? If so, why aren’t you condemning the UCC rather than one of their more progressive pastors?

  77. Brother John says:

    In an open letter, Rev. John Shelby Spong, a retired American bishop in the Anglican Church and a leading voice in the progressive Christianity movement, criticized the United Church of Canada for trying to get rid of “one of its most creative, future-oriented pastors” and urged leaders to “call your church back from its precipice.”

    “Gretta has called herself ‘an atheist minister,’” wrote Spong, a mentor to Vosper. “While that language is startling to some, the Christian academy knows exactly what she is saying. To refer to oneself as an ‘atheist’ does not mean that one is asserting that there is no God; it means that the ‘theistic’ definition of God is no longer operative or believable.”

    The debate swirling outside West Hill about what goes on inside West Hill frustrates and baffles church members. Critics have called their minister a bully, a provocateur, an ego-driven self-promoter, a heretic. West Hill attendees have a different view.

    “Gretta is one of the most courageous people I have ever met,” says Anne Jackson, 61, who joined the congregation a decade ago. “She’s full of humility and discloses her own personal faults. She’s very real and authentic and a seeker of truth.”

    They say she listens intently and anticipates need. She connects people who have common interests or goals. “When she sends us out the door, she speaks to us in a way that says, look, you have the ability to make things better — go out and do it,” says Babette Oliveira, 48, the church vocal director and a member for 15 years.

    Some West Hill members were disturbed when Vosper began calling herself an atheist, but they understand her motivation and see that she is the same person she was before she began using the word.

    “She was trying to defuse the power of that word to hurt people,” says Scott Kearns, West Hill’s musical director and Vosper’s husband of 12 years. “And that is so Gretta, that sort of solidarity with people being treated unfairly, unfoundedly, being oppressed over a word, over a belief.”

    What most frustrates Randy Bowes, chair of the church board, is that Vosper isn’t saying anything now that she hasn’t been saying for more than a decade, with one exception: the word atheist. Bowes, 58, doesn’t see that as a big deal. Vosper has made it clear — to the congregation, if not to the world — that she doesn’t believe in a certain kind of God, but she isn’t denying the existence of God altogether.
    Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/02/21/meet-the-united-church-minister-who-came-out-as-an-atheist.html

  78. pam reaffield says:

    she needs to leave the church im sorry so call Christian people have probably made her feel this way several people in church have gave me sour notes but that is what the devil wants to happen their spirit is not right
    I am ordained ministry threw your church god is the light the truth and the way

  79. Vickie Morgart says:

    I do not believe in the way “Christian” churches teach the bible. God is not a separate from you, God IS you, I can understand her not believing anymore. The name of God … I AM
    Let her people follow her if they choose, if not that is their right. I do not know her or them. And it is not my place to pass judgement on any of them, so my opinion does not matter.
    Blessings Everyone!!

  80. Keith Tribble says:

    I think if she does not believe in God she should step aside and let someone that believes in God teach the word of God to the ones who love the Lord. She can start her own place and teach what she believes and if they follow her then they where not really Christian.

  81. Brother John says:

    The cries of outrage about Vosper seem curiously similar to that of the Pharisees and their supporters about Jesus and his calls for change.

    27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23

    Read more here about Jesus’ criticisms of “teachers of religious law”……


  82. Minister Norman says:

    Brother John,

    I was not planning on commenting further on this Blog, or this issue, but as you have now addressed me directly, I will now answer you…

    Why quote JESUS in defense of someone who beleives Jesus to be a theistic fable? As “Christian Pastor” Gretta Vosper, has openly stated?

    Kind of ridiculous.

    Also, given such views as she now openly expresses, Jesus and his teachings would soon disappear all together (thus so would your arguments, and that seems to be the point), to be replace by some “Feel Good” empty “Gospel” that says we created outselves and God is just for Superstitious Fools and and idiots or the otherwise obviously insane!

    Plain and simple, Gretta Vosper believes those who worship Jesus Christ are backward, ignorant, and silly, and perhaps even delusional?

    You can’t have it both ways, as Gretta Vosper is trying to do. You can’t be an “Atheist” and a “Christian” all at the same time. They cancel each other out. And YOUR definition of “Atheist” is a far cry from what so many avoid Atheists claim for themselves; especially so very many who call any “Believers” fools and simpletons, or out right crazy people.

    Ignore that if you like, but it cuts out the heart of belief in Jesus as Christ.

    If you’ve read more of my postings, other than those you cherry picked, and posted words from her dissenters as well as her supporters, and within her own church and organization, then a very different picture emerges, one counter to the simplistic loving portrait you now so craftily frame!

    Too many sites now, incluing the UCC have stated, “Many have left her congregation in protest of her now openly stated Atheistic views”. Congregants were already asking why she stopped mentioning Jesus and/or God in her “Sermons”, and why she suddenly stopped performing the sacrements.

    It’s because she now sees all of that as silly (within a Christian Church), and, “Seeks to replace Superstitions with more tangible concepts”.

    …All on her own!

    By her own words, Gretta Vosper is trying to overthrow the entire foundations of belief in Jesus Christ, and from within, “The Oldest Christian Congregation in Canada”… Hers and their words, not mine.

    Gretta Vosper now claims, “Total disbelief in any theistic GODS”, and many of her parishioners walked way.

    That is a fact!

    It’s also why there is now, “A crisis within her church community”, as stated by the UCC, prompting hearings and, “A pending judgement on Pastor Gretta Vosper’s fitness to remain a Minister with the UCC; based on her disbelief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.

    THAT is what is at issue here!

    I am not hating on anyone. I am merely stating facts. As I said before (and you jumped on it for whatever your agenda is); this IS exactly like hiring Teachers who do not belive in education, or Doctors who think medical intervention is silly.

    But it’s really as hypocritical as a Vegan-Meat Market Butcher… An “Atheist Christian Minister/Pastor is a totally ridiculous concept, unless of course you are trying to do away with beliefs in God and Jesus and the concept of The Holy Spirit… And that is now Gretta Vosper’s stated purpose, “To do away with all Theistic Superstitions, and replace them with a common spirit of good will”.
    Argue the actual points I’m making!

    An Atheist “Pastor” and a “Christian Congratulation” are decidedly different things. Either you teach/preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or then you MOCK his teaching by saying you just won’t mention God.

    I really don’t see the disconnect you and so many others are having.

    This isn’t about being mean, or Hateful or backwards on the part of her critics!

    This is absolutely about a Pastor of a Christian Church either teaching the great moral lessons (that yes, she already does), but either including the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and teaching from that perspective, or then not pretending to he any kind of a “Christian” Church or congregation.

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