This morning, in an article in the Vancouver Sun, “Will Gretta Vosper obtain ‘no-fault’ divorce from church?”, Douglas Todd raises the idea that Toronto Conference, using The United Church of Canada’s polity as found in The Manual, could place my name on the Discontinued Service List with the slightly more polite qualifier “Voluntary”. The piece of polity to which he refers, Section C 2.7, gives the church the right to remove clergy from its roll who begin working in ministry in another denomination.
Members Who Become Ministers of Another Denomination or Faith Tradition
This section applies to members of the order of ministry who become ministers of another denomination or faith tradition. It does not apply to members who are serving as overseas personnel. The presbytery must make a recommendation to the Conference that the member’s name be placed on the Discontinued Service List (Voluntary). The Conference is responsible for making a decision on the recommendation.
While I would be honoured to serve as a minister in any denomination that would allow me the privilege to serve in in the manner that West Hill United Church has done, I have never been invited to or sought leadership anywhere else but the United Church. So the fine print won’t make things any easier as Todd has suggested it might.
Todd’s misinformation is comes from my retired colleague, the Rev. David Shearman. In his blog, Mr. Shearman equates my position as a Director for The Oasis Network, to the position of minister in another denomination or faith tradition. The Oasis Network is neither a denomination nor a faith tradition. And my role as a Director is not dissimilar to that of someone who serves on the Board or in leadership of any community, national, or international non-profit organization.
For example, the Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton serves as the Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Churches. While her role would be considered to involve far more ministry than my role at the Oasis would entail, I am certain her relationship with the CCC is considered a privilege and a benefit to the United Church, not an opportunity to discredit her relationship with her ordaining denomination.
I can only imagine Mr. Shearman’s dismay (he blogged “I hope I am not being too optimistic”) when he realizes that I am not leading the Toronto Oasis as its minister. At this point, I’m not even scheduled to speak in any of the first eight weeks of its operation.
But, we do have an amazing line-up! Our first guest speaker is the inimitable impressionist (is that an oxymoron?) Rick Miller, the creative genius behind Bigger Than Jesus, HardSell, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the spectacular Boom! Others in the line-up include psychotherapist Martin Frith on Dying with Dignity, Stephanie Baptist of the great blog Sex with Steph on, you guessed it, sex, and Kamal Al-Solaylee, author of the Canada Reads Intolerable: Growing up Gay in the Arab World who will speak on his new sensation, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone). Raihan Abir will join us in March to share the tragic story of Bangladeshi authors who have written and died for their freedom to express secular ideas.
If you’re wanting to join us on the 12th, please register on our Eventbrite page and fire me an email through my contact page if you’d like to sign up for Toronto Oasis news or sign up on the TO website. The launch will take place at the beautiful Multifaith Centre (maybe that’s what confused Mr. Shearman!) at the University of Toronto, 569 Spadina Avenue. (Continued below …) We’re VERY excited about this launch, the latest in the new opportunities for engagement coming out of West Hill United. And while you don’t have to register to come, we’re thinking the place might fill up so do try to register so that we have a sense of numbers.
We’re not going to stop trying to make the world a better place. We hope you don’t either.