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Church of England brings in transgender celebration services

Tue 11 Dec 2018
By Alex Williams

Clergy are being encouraged to hold "celebratory" services for transgender worshippers wanting to have their transition recognised within the Church of England.

Ceremonies should allow transgender people to renew the commitment they made during their baptism service - prior to their gender transition - the guidance released on Tuesday said.

Dr Rev Tina Beardsley, a transgender vicar who was consulted on the document, expressed hope churches would implement the guidance.

 

Dr Tina told Premier: "I hope that most churches will respond positively.

"Many families are affected nowadays; a family member, a friend or a work colleague has undergone a transition."

But the formal incorporation of a gender transition service into the Church of England's official catalogue of services drew dismay from conservative Anglicans.

 

Susie Leafe from the evangelical group GAFCON told Premier nine bishops on the House of Bishops' Delegation Committee - which oversaw work to produce the document - had bypassed the Church of England's governing body.

She explained: "The issue that we've got here is the repurposing of baptism liturgy; that is a major decision that the House of Bishops have made without the consultation of Synod and that doesn't bode well for the future."

Andrea Williams, a lay member of the Church of England's General Synod accused the Church of continuing a "devastating trajectory towards an outright denial of God and his word".

She continued: "There is no need for Christians to sacrifice truth in a misguided attempt to be loving. 

 

"It is not loving to mislead people - and wider society - into the falsehoods and myths of transgender ideology."

But Chair of the House of Bishops' Delegation Committee, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn said: "We are absolutely clear that everyone is made in the image of God and that all should find a welcome in their parish Church.

"This new guidance provides an opportunity, rooted in scripture, to enable trans people who have 'come to Christ as the way, the truth and the life', to mark their transition in the presence of their Church family which is the body of Christ.

"We commend it for wider use."

Oil and water could be incorporated into the services, under the guidance which asserts the clergy ought to identify transgender individuals according to their chosen name.

 

The Church of England says: "The rite for the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith is not a second baptism. The Church of England teaches that the sacrament of baptism is only to be undertaken once.

"But this service enables people to renew the commitments made in baptism and in a public setting and provides space for those who have undergone a major transition to re-dedicate their life to Jesus Christ."

Full details of the guidance can be found here.

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