Bill Phipps

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The Very Reverend
Bill Phipps
36th Moderator of the United Church of Canada
Bill Phipps speaking at an interfaith prayer vigil on September 14, 2001
Church United Church of Canada
Elected August 1997
Predecessor Marion Best
Successor Marion Pardy
Ordination 1969
Personal details
Born 1942 (age 74–75)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma mater McCormick Theological Seminary

William "Bill" Phipps (born 1942), an ordained minister of the United Church of Canada, lawyer and social activist, was the 36th Moderator of the United Church of Canada from 1997 to 2000.

Early life and ministry[edit]

Phipps trained as a lawyer but in 1968, he felt called to ordained ministry. He studied theology at Chicago's McCormick Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1969. From 1974 to 1983, he was minister at Trinity-St. Paul's United Church in Toronto. He then moved to Alberta to work in church administration.

Moderator of the United Church of Canada[edit]

Phipps was elected to the post of Moderator at the 36th General Council of the United Church in August 1997. Only a short time after his installation, he ignited widespread controversy inside and outside the church when, in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen editorial board, he questioned the resurrection of Jesus as a scientific fact, said he was undecided on the question of the afterlife, and "I don’t believe Jesus was God."[1]

In October 1998, speaking on behalf of the United Church, Phipps apologized on behalf of the United Church to Canada's indigenous First Nations for abuse in church-run residential schools earlier in the century, saying in part, "To those individuals who were physically, sexually, and mentally abused as students of the Indian Residential Schools in which The United Church of Canada was involved, I offer you our most sincere apology. You did nothing wrong. You were and are the victims of evil acts that cannot under any circumstances be justified or excused."[2]

Later career[edit]

Following his time as moderator, Phipps was a community organizer, hospital chaplain and adult educator,[3] and from 1993 till his retirement in 2007, he was minister at Scarboro United Church in Calgary.

In 2002, Phipps was the New Democratic Party candidate in the Calgary Southwest by-election contested by newly elected Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper. Phipps challenged Harper's conservative economic and social views. During the campaign, Harper commented that he "despise[d]" Phipps,[4] and declined to participate in debates with him. In the election, Phipps came in second with just over 20% of the vote.

In 2005, Phipps was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal.[5]

Electoral Record[edit]

Canadian federal by-election, May 13, 2002: Calgary Southwest
Resignation of Preston Manning
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Alliance Stephen Harper 13,200 71.66 $58,959.16
New Democratic Bill Phipps 3,813 20.70 $34,789.77
Green James S. Kohut 660 3.58 $2,750.80
Independent Gordon Barrett 428 2.32 $3,329.34
Christian Heritage Ron Gray 320 1.74 $27,772.78
Total valid votes 18,421 100.00
Total rejected ballots 98
Turnout 18,519 23.05
Electors on the lists 80,360


  1. ^ Mansfield, Robert N. (2003). Everything I Learned About Theology I Did Not Get From Sunday School. Xulon Press. p. 106. ISBN 1-591603-55-2. 
  2. ^ "Apology to Former Students of United Church Indian Residential Schools, and to Their Families and Communities (1998)". United Church Social Policy Positions. United Church of Canada. October 1998. Archived from the original on 2015-08-11. Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  3. ^ "Rev. Bill Phipps". Consortium for Peace Studies. University of Calgary. Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  4. ^ Simpson, Jeffrey (2002-05-07). "He makes Harper think uncharitable thoughts". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2015-08-24. <
  5. ^ The Alberta Gazette (PDF). Government of Alberta. 2006-05-15 Retrieved 2015-08-24.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
Religious titles
Preceded by
Marion Best
Moderator of the United Church of Canada
Succeeded by
Marion Pardy