Gambo minister speaks out on decision to quit after backlash to Pride events

The words of Matthew 10:14 came to mind for Dianne Crewe after resigning her post with the United Church of Canada in Gambo, N.L.

"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet," the verse reads.

Crewe resigned as the minister of a pair of local churches after members of one congregation pushed back on her plans to host Pride events this month. Crewe said she knew she wasn't a good fit for the Gambo church from the moment she arrived 16 months ago.

"My theology was definitely different," Crewe told CBC News.

But resistance toward Crewe ramped up when she started organizing Pride events for the church in Gambo. She announced plans to celebrate Pride Week while leading a church service.

Two people interrupted her to voice their opposition, she said. In their opinions, the church is not the place for pro-Pride events, according to Crewe.

"I was shocked that they went that far rather than waiting and privately doing it and having a discussion around that," she said.

Forced to leave

Soon after, Crewe said the church held a meeting without her and then requested a change in pastoral relations.

CBC News has requested comment from the United Church of Canada. As of publishing time, no response has been received.

Crewe said she was told her leadership styles are to blame. She believes there was more to the request for change.

Reverend Dianne Crewe served at Emmanuel United Church in Gambo and Knox United Church in Hare Bay for sixteen months.
Rev. Dianne Crewe served at Emmanuel United Church in Gambo and Knox United Church in Hare Bay for 16 months. (Submitted by Dianne Crewe)

"They wanted a different style. They wanted me to tell them what was going to happen," she said.

Crewe said she picked up on some homophobic cues within the congregation previously. She said she almost left because of them.

"There was another incident just sitting around with a group of ladies when that particular issue came up and I was so disturbed by the attitudes of some — not all of the people — about the 2SLGBTQ+ plus community," she said. "I wanted to leave that very day."

That issue was resolved after a simple conversation. Crewe said she thought the same would happen this time around, but instead she said the United Church gave her two options before she left her ministry.

She could work the next 90 days, or get paid for the same period and leave immediately.

Crewe chose the second option.

Gambo, on a lovely day in early December.
Gambo is a town of about 2,000 people in central Newfoundland. (Submitted by Walter Gill)

"I don't want to stand in front of people that don't want me here and try to figure out, 'I wonder, who made that motion. I wonder who's down there looking at me this morning and really don't want me to be here,'" she said.

The United Church asked Crewe to sever ties with any of the denomination's officials, she said.

She plans to leave the town when she finds a place to live in nearby Gander.

"I actually had intended to probably retire here when I finished ministry because I loved the town and the people so much. I guess that's not going to happen now," Crewe said.

'I'll try to heal'

Crewe's departure sparked a lot of reaction in the town with allies and members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community speaking out to show their support.

Despite her experience ministering in the town, she believes Gambo is not innately homophobic.

"They're very, very good people here in Gambo. There are very, very good people at Emmanuel United Church," Crewe said.

"I'll just try to heal, move on. Like Jesus said when he went home, 'I'll take the dust off my sandals, and just move on.'"

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