Church in Canada elects gay Reverend to highest position

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By Ryan Collett

The largest Protestant church in Canada, the United Church of Canada, elected an openly gay Reverend to be its new moderator, the highest position of leadership in the church.

350 voting commissioners of the Church voted yesterday in what became a unanimous decision to elect Rev. Gary Paterson. As moderator for the Church, Paterson will act as its primary spokesperson, oversee pastoral changes, and lead the church’s 2.5 million members. Moderators of the 87 year-old Church are elected every three years by the General Council – a group of leading ministers and commissioners. 

“It feels humbling,” said Rev. Paterson to Metro, Canada’s national daily newspaper, after his election. “The exciting thing for me is, at least within the United Church community, it’s really been a non-story.”

“We’ve made some historic decisions, and this feels like a very logical, sensible and low-key new step in that journey.”

Paterson, born in Canada, studied theology at the Vancouver School of Theology and became an ordained minister in the Church in 1977. Paterson lives in Vancouver with his spouse of 30 years, Tim Stevenson.

Said Paterson: “I recognize that for many denominations, and for many places in the world, to have someone lead a church who is openly gay is a surprise and perhaps problematic, so I’m looking forward to having conversations.”

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