To the editor:
Re: "United Church elects gay Vancouver minister as leader," Aug. 22.
I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to Professor John Stackhouse's comment that in being elected as the 41st Moderator of the United Church I am simply a "sexuality symbol."
Let's be clear- I am openly gay, married to a man, have co-raised three daughters (from a first marriage), and have been ministering in Vancouver for over 30 years.
I am glad that sexual orientation is not an issue within the United Church, and for over 20 years has not been a barrier to full membership in the Church (including ordination).
In my biographical statement as a nominee for the position of Moderator, the word "gay" appears once, and my 30-year partnership with Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson was also acknowledged; but in the months leading up to the General Council and the election for Moderator, the fact of my orientation was never mentioned-not that anyone was trying to avoid this reality, but simply because it was irrelevant.
That's the real news story! It's true, other people continue to make it an issue, including the press. And sadly, many Christians from other denominations continue to react negatively, from virulent condemnation to "energetic" dismissal.
I long for the day when other Christians will realize that it is the life-giving qualities of a relationship and not the gender of the partners that is truly important-love is the standard by which any judgment should be made. I long for the day when no one will try to reduce me to a "sexuality symbol."
Rev. Gary Paterson, Moderator, United Church of Canada