I was there in 1988, and I have felt the shadow of that momentous conflict and schism in the church ever since. I wasn’t so aware of it immediately, except at the Winnipeg Church I went to /joined that year had two completely separate services. One service was led by the preaching minister (which was more traditional), and one was led by lay members (and untraditional). They were even held in different parts of the building.
There was a separation within that congregation. I preferred the traditional service, and did not know the history of the split, but there was a level of discomfort there in late 1988 and on.
The next church I attended, in Halifax, had experienced a complete split by 1994, because a group had walked out and had formed an alternative church. That original church was still wealthy and successful but it felt uncomfortable. It was there that the feeling of fear of conflict developed in me… a sense of fear of causing another split over a controversial issue—almost a reaction to the trauma of 1988 and the succeeding year. This feeling was underlying much in the church. Fear of losing more members, fears of losing financial support, fear of the demise of the church, fear of argument, fear of disagreement… a form of PTSD for the entire United Church as a result of the 1988 schism in the church.
Many people who were not thrilled about the 1988 decision but stayed in the church felt muzzled, afraid to speak their point of view, while some who remained moved in to more and more liberal stands.
Does this schism still exist? Probably mostly with people who were around at that time, in 1988.
(Shared with permission. Photo credit: Wix.)