On Wednesday, Sep. 9, 2020, Kingston’s Mayor Bryan Paterson posted an open letter on his blog announcing his departure from the congregation at Third Day Worship Centre. The letter comes two weeks after a video of the church’s preacher appeared on YouTube in which he denounced homosexuality, associated Islamic mosques with terrorism, and promoted COVID-19 conspiracy theories. The video has since been removed. The Mayor’s letter follows:
First, I want to say thank you for sharing your comments, questions and concerns with me about the recent sermon excerpts from Third Day Worship Centre (TDWC). Since the release of these videos I’ve taken time to be with my family and those closest to me, to reflect and to consider all the feedback I’ve received.
Many of you may know that talking about and responding to questions about Christianity isn’t new to me. When I initially considered running for City Council 10 years ago, I made a conscious decision to keep my faith and my responsibility as an elected official separate. Not because I was trying to hide my faith, but rather to respect the diversity of beliefs we have in our community, and to represent all people regardless of background, religion or ethnicity. For years, I’ve been able to do just that – keep church and state separate – and so to have my beliefs become a news story is an uncomfortable space to occupy. But I remain optimistic that some good can come of it all in the end.
In my time as a councillor and as Mayor there has been curiosity related to my faith and in recent days, related to specific sermons and teachings at TDWC. I truly appreciate the concerns and disappointment as I share these feelings as well. There were excerpts that were hurtful and divisive, and that is completely unacceptable.
I know many of you were hurt by these comments, confused, angry, or felt personally attacked or undermined. For that, I’m deeply sorry. The views expressed in these videos do not reflect my heart, my core beliefs or the vision of inclusion and respect I have for our community. For this reason, I’ve decided step away from Third Day Worship Centre. I want to demonstrate that I’m committed to representing everyone in our community.
Christianity is an important part of my life and it will continue to be. As a Christian, I believe that I’m called to love others. As cliché as it may sound, faith grounds me and it drives me to build the kind of community we can all be proud of. Anyone who knows me knows that ensuring people feel heard, valued and supported is what drives a lot of the decision making in my life. In the coming days I will continue to lead this City the best way that I can, to build bridges and not walls, to foster greater understanding, and to represent you with integrity and respect.