30,000 protest United Church position

 — Sept. 17, 198817 sept. 1988

from the Windsor Star

[SASKATOON] At least 30,000 members of the United Church of Canada have signed a declaration of dissent against a statement by the church’s general council dealing with sexuality, says a United Church minister in Saskatchewan.

“I’m upset,” said Rev. Don Lamont of Eston. “Some people have already left my church over this statement and there are rumors of more.

“It’s a bunch of baloney for general council or head office to say nothing’s changed. What the statement really says is anything goes.”

One section of the statement passed last month in Victoria by the church’s 32nd general council declares “all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation, who profess faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to Him, are welcome to be or become full members of the United Church of Canada.”

The official church position is that the section simply states publicly what generally has always been the practice of the United Church.

Mary Jane Hanson, a member of Bethel United Church in Saskatoon, disagrees.

“I don’t accept that,” she said. “The statement is a signal to the world that practising homosexuals can be ordained as ministers. They (the general council) have made it a policy.”

Hanson said she could accept the idea of ordained homosexuals if they remained celibate. But, as it stands, she believes the statement doesn’t reflect the feeling of the majority of church members.

Rev. Bill Fritz of Barrie, chairman of a United Church group called the Community of Concern, said there is a great deal of anger and anguish across the country and some have discontinued donations to the church’s mission and service fund.

“People are feeling betrayed,” Fritz said. “These are not irresponsible members. They are long-standing soldiers, servants and workers.

“It’s not the ministers by and large, they say they can live with it. It’s the lay people who are up in arms. They feel they’ve been beguiled long enough with hocus pocus, smoke and mirrors, deceptions.

Church leaders saying nothing has changed when it has. They’ve said homosexual practice is a valid Christian lifestyle.”

Fritz said the statement has mortally wounded the church.

“Our group is meeting next week. Area representatives are coming from every conference across Canada and we anticipate more than 800 will attend.

“We’ve got to stop the hemorrhaging. I can tell you we’ve got a cake in the oven, so to speak. We’re going to take strong action. ”

Lamont said the Community of Concern’s declaration of dissent, which includes the sentence “we are convinced the biblical intention for sexual behavior is loving fidelity for life within marriage and loving celibacy outside marriage,” has been signed by 300 of his Eston parishioners.

Glenn Lucas of Markdale, Ont., former United Church archivist-historian, said the statement is out of step with the thinking of most congregations but he doesn’t believe many people will leave the church over the issue.

“This is our church,” Lucas said.

“We’re not prepared to leave it, but we’re not prepared to be rolled over either. People are going to demand to be listened to.”

Rev. George Ward, minister of Saskatchewan’s Unity-Meridian pastoral charge, said there is “general dismay” in the Unity United Church.

“The congregation is deeply troubled because their church, to which they have a heartfelt loyalty, has made a decision they are having difficulty living with,” Ward said.

“I’m not sure they fully understand the implications. I’m personally extremely upset by general council’s decision. I feel like a child whose parents have betrayed him.”

Posted: Sept. 17, 1988 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=6233
Categories: NewsIn this article: human sexuality, United Church of Canada
Transmis : 17 sept. 1988 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=6233
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : human sexuality, United Church of Canada

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