The Church of England will vote later this summer on creating an official “baptism-style” service to honor transgender congregants who have changed their sex.
The rule will be voted on at the upcoming General Synod meeting in July, the Daily Mail reported, and the services will celebrate the person’s transition from one sex to another.
One transgender priest, the Rev. Rachel Mann, rector of St. Nicholas Burnage and a minor canon at Manchester Cathedral, praised the scheduled vote on the issue.
“Trans people feel powerfully called to be recognized in their ‘chosen’ name,” Mann told Christian Today. “An opportunity to be publicly introduced to God is therefore significant. I think this is what the proposed liturgy aims to do.
“It will be symbolically powerful,” Mann continued. “The extent to which it is baptism will be debated by General Synod, of course, but this liturgy is a welcome move to affirm trans people.”
Others, though, have spoken out against being so welcoming of the transgender lifestyle.
Synod member Andrea Williams, director of the conservative advocacy group Christian Concern, said: “It is unclear why we are even debating this issue. We are sensitive to people who feel uncomfortable with their sex, but Christian teaching is that God made us man and woman.
“The Church should help people to see the beauty of their God-given sex instead of confusing them,” she said.
Another conservative Synod member, Clive Scowen, told Christian Today that he is “far from convinced that surgical or medical intervention to try to reassign gender is a loving response.” Instead, he said, those struggling with gender dysphoria “must be treated with the utmost love and pastoral sensitivity.”
The General Synod will also address its official position on gay marriage — and conversion therapy — when it meets in July.
Some liberal members are hoping the church condemns the controversial practice of conversion therapy, a psychological or spiritual treatment meant to change one’s orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual.
“The Bible teaches that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made, and we should therefore look to celebrate God’s gift of diversity in creation, not treat those of us who are non-heterosexual as having mental disorders that need to be ‘cured,’” liberal Synod member Jayne Ozanne said.
News about the Church of England’s potential openness toward transgender congregants comes just weeks after the United Methodist Church in the United States ruled that the consecration of an openly gay bishop violates church law.
In a 6-3 vote, the United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council determined married lesbian Bishop Karen Oliveto, and those who appointed her, violated their “commitment to abide by and uphold the church's definition of marriage and stance on homosexuality.”
“Under the longstanding principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore, or negate church law,” the council stated. “It is not lawful for the College of Bishops of any jurisdictional or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.”