United Church Of Canada Elects First Openly Gay Leader

PatersonThe United Church of Canada, that nation's largest Protestant church, made history by electing openly gay Rev. Gary Paterson as the new moderator for its 41st General Council.

From The Ottawa Citizen:

The 350 voting commissioners at the general council greeted the announcement with cheers and a prolonged standing ovation, and quickly voted to make Paterson’s election unanimous.

"I am so humbled by the trust and the responsibility you have placed in my hands," Paterson told them.

At a news conference following his election, Paterson acknowledged the historic nature of his election. "Among main line denominations, as far as I know this is probably a first,” he said. But he added that he was heartened that his sexuality had been a non-issue with those who voted for the new moderator."

"I would suspect that that’s the primary news story. What some denominations or some parts of the world see as a huge dilemma or problem has not, within our immediate community here, been seen that way at all."

Paterson was one of four openly gay people up for the position.


  1. says

    well done!

    i was lucky enough to grow up in the united church of canada. we had a gay minister, we had gay members in the congregation, and we even had members who didn’t actually identify as “Christian”, yet came for the friendships and the sheer fact that sermons weren’t dogmatic hell-fire fear festivals. humanist, inclusive, and always coming from a place of contemporary relevancy.

    coming out in my teens to my congregation was a wholly positive experience, and one that I know i’m in the minority of experiencing – there was literally anything remotely anti-gay (or anti-Non-Christian) about my experiences with the church.

    i know a great many of us have rather justified frustrations with organized religions and the pious and hypocritical nature in which they share their “messages” – but it’s wonderful that the more progressive humanist denominations are making these strides.

    the UCC has been on the forefront of promoting Equality for LGBT for decades. Kudos.

  2. Rafa says

    Congratulations! It’s nice to see churches putting aside divisive prejudices and focussing instead on theon spirituality, community, and social justice.

    I was surprised by Patterson’s claim about the united chuch being the first mainline church in Canada to be lead at the highest level by a gay person, because it seems to momentarily overlook the Metropolitan Community Church, which has been thriving in Toronto for decades and whose social justice work earned senior pastor Brent Hawkes the order of Canada. The more, the merrier! Looks like the arc of history bends toward justice.

  3. shanestud says

    The United Church is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada. The Baptists are the largest Protestant denomination in the USA. Can you imagine Baptists electing a gay minister to be their leader?
    Only in Canada!!

  4. ratbastard says

    How can UCC be the largest Protestant denomination in Canada with roughly a half million members, 2.5 million adherents? Canada has at least 34 million or so people. I know the Catholic Church is the largest religion in Canada, but I would think the largest Protestant denomination would be larger than 2.8 million adherents.

  5. Leroy Laflamme says

    My husband & I are about to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, & we were honoured & priviledged to be married by Rev. Paterson. Everyone should be so lucky!

  6. Leroy Laflamme says

    My husband & I are about to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, & we were honoured & priviledged to be married by Rev. Paterson. Everyone should be so lucky!

  7. Russ says

    Ratbastard, the numbers do add up. Go see the Wikipedia article on “Religion in Canada” for a full breakdown of the stats.

    And Rafa, yes MCC has been ministering to the gays for 40 years, but it’s tiny tiny tiny, and therefore hardly a *mainstream* church.

  8. RLavigueur says

    Ratbastard, Canada is significantly less religious than the United States overall, and among Christians Catholics outnumber protestants. The number of Christians of any denomination who regularly attend church is very low, somewhere beneath 25%.

    About 20-25% of Canadians consider themselves nonreligious according to the more recent surveys, and about 30% don’t believe in god at all (including, ironically enough, 28% of Canada’s self-identified protestants and 33% of Canada’s self-identified Catholics)

    After the UCC among protestants would be the Anglican church, which has almost as many adherents but is technically smaller.

  9. Rafa says

    Russ, if you check the quote again, you’ll see it makes a claim relative to “main line” protestant churches, which doesn’t seem to be a synonym of mainstream, because the wikipedia page of MCC identifies it categorically as a “main line” Protestant church.

  10. andrew says

    All religion is b*ll S*it. The United Church of Canada just represents the warm and fuzzy b*ll s*it.In a way they are more of an obsticle to human freedom than the bible thumpers because they encourage people to think that mabye religion is Okay. When rational people know that religion is myth made up by primitives.

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