Canada’s Largest Protestant Church Elects Openly Gay Leader

Gary Paterson beat out 14 other United Church candidates in six rounds of voting.

Melissa Steffan

Canada’s largest Protestant church elected its first openly gay moderator at its 41st General Council on Thursday.

After nearly eight hours of voting, the 350 members of the United Church of Canada selected Gary Paterson from a pool of 15 nominees, including three other openly gay candidates. When Paterson begins his three-year term as moderator on Aug. 18, he will become the first openly gay leader of a Christian denomination.

“Among mainline denominations, as far as I know this is probably a first,” Paterson told council members following the final vote.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Paterson also “added that he was heartened that his sexuality had been a non-issue with those who voted for the new moderator.”

Paterson, who hails from St Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, replaces Mardi Tindal, who has served as moderator since the last council three years ago. As moderator, Paterson will serve as the church’s primary spokesman and preside over General Council meetings.

CT has previously reported on the Episcopal Church’s approval of same-sex blessing rites, as well on other denominations that maintain homosexuality’s incompatibility with Christian doctrine.

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