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Gay reverend elected United Church moderator


Gay reverend elected United Church moderator

Gary Paterson was one of three openly gay reverends contending for the United Church's moderator position. He emerged victorious after five rounds of voting. IMAGE 1 OF 1
Gary Paterson emerges victorious after five rounds of voting
Reverend Gary Paterson of St Andrew's-Wesley United Church in downtown Vancouver was elected moderator of the United Church of Canada at the 41st General Council, held at Carleton University Aug 16.
Paterson was one of three openly gay candidates among 15 hopefuls vying for the position of moderator, alongside Reverend Arlen John Bonnar, nominated by Montreal Presbytery and Reverend Sally Boyle, nominated by Edmonton Presbytery and the Alberta and Northwest Conference.
The United Church’s General Council meets every three years to elect a new moderator. The moderator presides over the council’s meetings and acts as the church’s spokesperson.
“I am so humbled by the trust and the responsibility that you have placed in my hands, and yet I also know that I am simply one person and therefore the trust is in our hands,” Paterson said in his acceptance speech.
Newly minted Right Reverend Paterson then invited his partner of 30 years, Tim Stevenson, to join him onstage. Stevenson became the first openly gay minister ordained by the United Church of Canada in 1992 and currently serves as a Vancouver city councillor.

“I have such a passion for the United Church, and I know that we are facing such challenging times,” Paterson continued. “I’ve always been struck by the fact that when the risen Christ appeared, even the ones who knew him really well didn’t recognize him at first, which says that we may not recognize what a resurrected church may look like.”
The eight-day event was led by outgoing moderator Very Reverend Mardi Tindal. In addition to the election, votes were taken on several motions, including the decision to uphold a ban on products produced in Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and a vote that would see the inclusion of aboriginal elements in the church’s official crest.
Moderator nominees were given five minutes to address the 350 voting members of council Aug 13. When Bonnar addressed the flock, he stressed the need for togetherness and fairness, saying that each member of the congregation should be allowed to speak, but they should also take the time to listen.
Boyle recounted the story of a woman in 1950s Saskatchewan who was forced to uproot her shack and 12 children to be closer to the newly implemented electrical grid.
“Revolution means to change, to hope, peace and celebration. That, my friends, is what I believe is the job of all of us. To transform our communities whereever we are. It is our job to look outside our doors and to see that which needs desperately to be changed. I am prepared to begin a revolution,” Boyle said.
The 41st General Council saw a record number of reverends contesting for the top spot in Canada’s largest Protestant denomination. The previous record was nine contenders in 2000.
To be elected as moderator, a candidate must receive 50 percent of the vote plus one. If a majority vote is not cast, a process of elimination is implemented. The candidate who received the least number of votes is excluded from the subsequent ballot and the process is repeated until a majority vote is achieved.
Boyle did not move past the first round of voting. On the second, Bonnar was eliminated. Paterson defeated Rev. John Young on the final ballot.
Paterson will begin his new role as moderator Aug 18, stepping into a three-year, full-time job that garners a yearly salary estimated to be between $119,000 and $135,000.
A voracious reader, Paterson worked an ee cummings composition into his acceptance speech, saying, “We thank you, God, for most this amazing day.”
The General Council concludes Saturday, Aug 18.  
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Truly Spiritual
Attending Rev.Gary Paterson's church in Vancouver has reignited my spirituality,social conscience and community involvement. The bible was written by men, hundreds of years after the rebellious, socially conscience Christ died. Religion has been corrupted by men and women into a dogmatic power structure, rife with discrimination and war. This is not at all what Christ was about. So you want to limit "Christianity" to so called traditional hateful values? You can have it. People today are more educated and open minded than they were 2000 years ago. Congratulations to Rev. Paterson. The country and United Church will be better for his leadership.
NDPers playing church
Similar to Metropolitan Community Church, the United Church is mostly a bunch of NDPers playing church. It's more about politics and babbling than religion or the Christian faith. According a story in the August 15 National Post: (1) The United Church has become so well-known for its take on social issues (e.g., attacking Israel) that it is in serious danger of losing its identity as a Christian denomination and in the process aggravate an already steep decline in attendance. (2) As an example of this decline, the United Church even has an atheist as a minister.(3) When the United Church was formed from a merger of three denominations in 1926, it had 600,000 members. In the mid-1960s membership peaked at roughly 1.1 million to 1.4 million. Latest estimates put membership at 500,000 and falling. One study estimated attendance could hit zero by 2040, and another study predicted attendance would fall to 250,000 in 15 years. See: http://life.nationalpost.com/2012/08/15/political-stances-on-israel-pipeline-putting-united-church-at-risk-study/
Historic moment
I was so proud to be standing on the floor of the general council when Gary was named our new moderator. To hear and see the cheers and applause when he embraced his partner on stage made my heart melt. I am so proud to be a part of this church and am excited to see where Gary will lead the church as we move forward. This is truly a sign that God's love and grace extends to everyone.
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