Atheist minister says not allowing her to continue in church ministry would be a 'betrayal'

The Rev. Gretta Vosper preaches at West Hill United Church of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.(YouTube)

The atheist minister of a church in Toronto, Canada has claimed that it would be a 'betrayal' to remove her from her position because she didn't believe in God.

Gretta Vosper, a 60-year-old minister in the United Church of Canada, told the Religion News Service that she was 'very surprised' to still be in her job after officially coming out as an atheist in 2013. 

She admitted her true beliefs about God and the divinity of Jesus despite having been the minister of West Hill United Church in Toronto since 1997. 

There were calls for her to be defrocked and the Toronto Conference asked the Church's General Council to launch a review into her suitability for ministry. 

However, before the review was due to start last year, the Toronto Conference and Vosper reached a settlement that allowed her to remain as minister of West Hill United Church.

She said that although she could not comment on the specifics of the settlement due to a non-disclosure agreement, she is 'able to function in ministry with all the rights and privileges that clergy have'.

She also said that she continues to teach in the church what she learned during her years in seminary. 

'Everything I teach is consistent with the theological training I received,' she said.

'I was taught the Bible was a human construction, and there is much wisdom in many texts, both ancient and contemporary.'

Vosper added that she has no plans to quit church ministry in spite of her atheism and that she thinks it would have been a 'betrayal' if she had been forced to go.

'I still feel that this is my denomination,' she told RNS. 'This is my heritage, and to refuse to allow me to participate and continue in ministry felt like a betrayal.'