May 1, 2019
To: Communities of Faith, Shining Waters Regional Council
Action Required: PETITION OPPOSING THE ORDINATION OF ATHEIST MINISTERS
Stouffville United Church is initiating a petition to The United Church of Canada and ask you to join with us. The petition is asking the United Church of Canada to adhere to its doctrines of faith, deny ordination to anyone who is an atheist, and expel any Ministry personnel who is an atheist.
We, as members of The United Church of Canada, have an important voice in what happens within our church and strongly encourage your congregation to enter into discussion about the Gretta Vosper issue. This petition, signed by members and adherents of The United Church of Canada, will speak loudly to this position.
Please invite your Board/Council and all members of your congregation to sign the petition. Those wishing to sign the petition can access a download of this letter and the petition form from our website. http://www.stouffvilleuc.ca/petition/
We ask that signed petitions (signed by individual members and adherents) be returned to Stouffville United Church by Sunday, June 30, 2019, via mail or scanned copy to our email:
Stouffville United Church
34 Church St.
Stouffville, ON L4A 1E3
Chair of Council of Stouffville United Church
Signed on behalf of Concerned Members of Stouffville United Church
cc: Nora Sanders, General Secretary, General Council Office
Peter Hartmans, Executive Minister, Shining Waters Regional Council
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The recent decision of the Toronto Conference of The United Church of Canada to allow an atheist Minister to remain in ordained ministry within the Church is unprecedented and we are heart broken and astounded that no explanation or rationale was given for this decision. This has created an atmosphere of betrayal and many are appalled that this has taken place.
Belief in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the foundation of our Christian faith. We fear that the foundation of our Church has been broken by losing its cornerstone.
As a Credal church our faith is expressed through the New Creed of The United Church of Canada. Our Creed clearly states: “We believe in God. We are called to be the Church, to celebrate God’s presence and to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen.”
Candidates for ‘Ordination, Commissioning, and Reception’ in The United Church of Canada affirm their faith and agree to the “Basis of Union” set out in By-Law H.7.1 of The Manual:
The Basis of Union, 13.3, reads as follows:
The service to ordain, commission, or receive persons to the Order of Ministry shall be conducted by the regional council. Those presenting themselves shall, after hearing the following preamble, answer the questions which follow:
“Jesus Christ came into the world to be the servant of God and all people. As servant Lord, Jesus calls his Church to a ministry of worship, witness, and reconciliation. In baptism we were received as members of his Church and at confirmation we committed ourselves to its ministry. In order that this ministry of the whole Church may be fulfilled, God has given the ordained ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Pastoral Care, and the diaconal ministry of Education, Service, and Pastoral Care. It is the responsibility of the Church to seek, train, and set apart those whom God calls so to serve.
1. (to each Candidate) Do you believe in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and do you commit yourself anew to God?
2. (to each Candidate being ordained) Do you believe that God is calling you to the ordained ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Pastoral Care, and do you accept this call
(to each Candidate being commissioned) Do you believe that God is calling you to the diaconal ministry of Education, Service, and Pastoral Care, and do you accept this call?
3. (to each Candidate) Are you willing to exercise your ministry in accordance with the scriptures, in continuity with the faith of the Church, and subject to the oversight and discipline of The United Church of Canada?”
To condone an atheist Minister within The United Church of Canada who does not believe in God is fundamentally wrong.
We, the undersigned, respectfully ask The United Church of Canada:
- to adhere to its doctrines of faith;
- to deny ordination, commissioning, or recognition to anyone who is an atheist and who does not affirm their faith in accordance with the doctrines and ordination vows of The United Church of Canada; and
- to expel any Ministry personnel who is an atheist and who does not affirm their faith in accordance with the doctrines and ordination vows of The United Church of Canada.