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Church of England to Hold 'Baptism-Style' Services to Celebrate Transgender 'Christians'

( [email protected] ) Jul 10, 2017 11:25 AM EDT
July 10, 2017: In a controversial move, the General Synod of the Church of England has voted to "welcome and affirm" transgender "Christians" and to provide services for people transitioning.
A priest wears a rainbow ribbon during a vigil against Anglican Homophobia, outside the General Synod of the Church of England in London, Britain, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

In a controversial move, the General Synod of the Church of England has voted to "welcome and affirm" transgender "Christians" and to provide services for people transitioning.

"That this Synod, recognizing the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person's gender transition," the motion that passed on Sunday reads.

Bishops voted 30 to two in favor of the motion, proposed by The Rev. Christopher Newlands of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod, while 127 lay members voted for and 48 against, and clergy backed the motion 127 to 28.

Stated Newlands: "I hope that we can make a powerful statement to say that we believe that trans people are cherished and loved by God, who created them, and is present through all the twists and turns of their lives."

Under the motion, church leaders can now hold special services to mark a transgender person's transition and "re-christen" transgenders with their new name and opposite sex "identity".

The motion recognizes that it cannot require clergy to offer to perform such a service if they "cannot in good conscience offer support in a liturgical marking of a person's transition" but says it hopes that they "may have the generosity to point anyone who asks to a church where the clergy are willing to provide such a liturgy".

According to the BBC, religious services catering to transgender people "would not be a second baptism, however, as the Church's teaching is that humans are made in the image of God - transcending gender - and baptism takes place only once."

Earlier, Newlands said the idea came from a transsexual who was "wrestling" spiritually during his "transition" and felt he needed "to reintroduce himself to God with his new name and gender identity."

LGBT Activist
(Photo : Reuters/Osman Orsal)
A LGBT rights activist takes part in a transgender pride parade which was banned by the governorship, in central Istanbul, Turkey.

The church body also backed a motion calling for a ban on what critics have called "conversion therapy" for people with unwanted same-sex attractions.

The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev. John Sentamu, who is one of the most senior officials in the CofE, declared: "As the world listens to us, the world needs to hear us say that LGBT orientation and identity is not a crime."

"LGBT orientation and identity is not a sickness. And LGBT orientation and identity is not a sin," Sentamu added, according to BBC News.

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, said: "Our response needs to be loving and open and welcoming and the passing of this motion would be a very important factor in that."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has continued to back the biblical definition of marriage as defined between one man and one woman. However, he has also called on Christians to repent for the "hurt and pain" the Church has inflicted on gay people.

"It's a constant source of deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality. I want to take this opportunity personally to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and present, that the Church has caused and the love that we at times completely failed to show, and still do, in many parts of the world including in this country," Welby said last year.

The Scottish Episcopal Church became the first mainstream Christian denomination in the U.K. to approve same-sex marriage in June.

Tags : Church of England, Anglican Church, baptism, Justin Welby, homosexual, transgender, LGBT