Coun. Tim Stevenson rejoices over spouse Gary Paterson's election to top United Church post

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      On the line from Ottawa, Vancouver councillor Tim Stevenson spoke with palpable joy. He has all the reasons in the world to rejoice.

      May 2012 was his 20th year as the first openly gay person to be ordained as minister of the United Church of Canada.

      Last June, he and spouse Gary Paterson celebrated their 30th-year anniversary of being together. The latter is the minister of the St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in downtown Vancouver.

      And then on Thursday (August 16), Paterson was elected moderator of the United Church of Canada at its 41st General Council meeting at Carleton University.

      Paterson becomes the first openly gay leader of the Christian denomination.

      “I’m thrilled for the church,” Stevenson told the Straight by phone today (August 17). “I’m thrilled for him although it’s a big responsibility for him. I think he’s exactly the right person at the right time for the national church. And I think he will be a marvellous moderator.”

      Ordained as United Church minister in 1977, Paterson preceded Stevenson’s investiture by 15 years.

      “He was first ordained when he was married to a woman and they had three children,” Stevenson recalled. “When we got together, the children were one, three and five. They’re now 32, 34, 36, and we have four grandchildren as well.”

      The Vancouver councillor explained that as moderator, Paterson will serve as the spiritual head of the United Church. The latter has a three-year term.

      “He is a very passionate preacher,” Stevenson said about Paterson. “He’s a very articulate individual. He has a very, very quick mind and he brings together intellect and compassion with the ability to articulate a vision for the church and reach out to society in general.”

      Stevenson added that Patterson has a “prophetic voice” on various social issues.

      “In a world that is broken, in a world that needs healing, he will speak out on those issues,” Stevenson added.

      According to an official United Church account of the moderator-elect’s press conference on August 16, one issue that Paterson may face is the church’s proposed boycott of products from the “illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank”.

      The account notes that he has recently returned from a two-month sabbatical in Israel and Palestine.

      “I have seen first-hand for myself what was happening with the occupation, and I believe that it is wrong,” Paterson was quoted as saying. “International law would say that it is wrong, and I would suspect there are many, many Jews who say that it is wrong.”

      The proposed boycott is subject to a vote today. Paterson will be sworn August 18, the last day of the church’s 41st General Council meeting that started on August 11.

      In his prepared biographical sketch, Paterson described himself as an “army brat”. Born in the Yukon in 1949, he lived in Toronto and Germany before eventually settling in Vancouver, “where my family has 150 years of farming roots”.

      “A couple of degrees in English literature led to my becoming a Sessional Lecturer at UBC, and a ‘closet poet’,” Paterson wrote.



      Equal opportunity

      Aug 17, 2012 at 7:36pm

      Congratulation to Gary Paterson!!

      Would he also tackle with the same gusto the awful discrimination against gays and lesbians in the Arab world?? Especially in Gaza and the West Bank, not to mention Saudi Arabia, where same sex marriages are punished with the death sentence, and gays are thrown in jail, beaten, tortured and worse??

      This is not changing the subject, but adding to it!!

      Lets hope!!


      Aug 17, 2012 at 10:09pm

      Like the historical names of our city's streets, The United Church is a prime example of what has been done to First Nations People. Maybe Tim and Gary would like to comment on that.

      Happy Catholic

      Aug 17, 2012 at 10:54pm

      As a Catholic, I am overjoyed to hear this.
      I hope that other Christian denominations can follow this lead.
      The Catholic Church would be a great organization to follow too; there is already a huge proportion of gay priests here, they just need to start admitting it!


      Aug 18, 2012 at 12:43am

      You mean your church lies to us about them giving up marriage to a woman in order to serve god?


      Aug 18, 2012 at 4:34pm

      Well said Paterson, moderator of the United Church of Canada. What is happening with the occupation is wrong.

      International law should/must say that it is wrong and speak more loudly. It is also true that there are many, many Jews who say that it is wrong.

      And Jews that support the occupation and the inhumane treatment of Palestinians are wrong AND must stop stifling and condemning the critics and accusing others who speak against the occupation of being antisemitic.

      I am Jewish and I support the right of ALL peoples in the middle east to be respected and I condemn the occupation and the related policies of this Israeli government.


      Aug 19, 2012 at 10:36am

      Congratulations, Gary.

      Both you and the church will be the better for it.


      Aug 20, 2012 at 2:59pm

      Nobody seems to address the sufferings of gays and lesbians in the Islamic world. Especially after the new moderator just returned from a four-month sabbatical there.

      Why the silence???

      Matthew Lyons

      Aug 22, 2012 at 8:39am

      How do you spell hypocrisy??

      The article says he became a minister while married to a woman, but he knew he was gay then, and lied. Hmmm


      Sep 2, 2012 at 11:58am

      @Matthew - how do you know he knew and maybe genuinely love made for genuine but failed effort. So many assumptions from someone who obviously knows nothing...