Canada's largest Protestant denomination elected its first openly gay leader at its 41st General Council on Thursday, Christianity Today reports. After nearly eight hours and six rounds of voting, the 350 members of the United Church of Canada selected Gary Paterson from a pool of 15 nominees, including three other openly gay candidates. "Among mainline denominations, as far as I know this is probably a first," Paterson told council members following the vote. According to the Ottawa Citizen, he "added that he was heartened that his sexuality had been a non-issue with those who voted." Paterson, who begins his three-year term August 18, will serve as the church's primary spokesman and preside over General Council meetings.