Athe­ist at the Pul­pit

Can the United Church sur­vive with­out God?

The Walrus - - FEATURES - By Larry Krotz il­lus­tra­tions by Tim O’brien

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.

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