Atheist at the Pulpit
Can the United Church survive without God?
On a bright Sunday morning last year in Toronto’s suburban east end, I enter one of those lowslung church buildings of red brick and dark wood built in the 1960s for neighbourhood families — the kind equipped with a wheelchair ramp and abutted by a broad parking lot. Inside, there are about seventy people, not all of whom, it turns out, are locals. Doug, seated behind me, says he’s travelled halfway across the city to be here. Before I can ask, he explains that he spent most of his life avoiding churches — rebelling against his mother’s insistence that he needed to be “saved.” But when he reached the age of sixty, Doug found that his life was missing something. He’s come here in search of it, every Sunday for the past three years.