Church of England urges Anglican ‘baptism’ service as way to celebrate gender transition

Church of England urges Anglican ‘baptism’ service as way to celebrate gender transition
The Church of England's House of Bishops voted Tuesday to block the creation of a new liturgy to celebrate gender transition but urged bishops to use the existing baptism rite as a way to mark the passage. (Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images)

The Church of England’s House of Bishops voted Tuesday to block the creation of a new liturgy to celebrate gender transition but urged bishops to use the existing baptism rite as a way to mark the passage.

“On the matter of whether a new service is needed, the House of Bishops has decided that the current service that is used to affirm baptism can be adapted,” Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James said in a statement issued by The Church of England’s House of Bishops.

What led to this decision?

Last July, the General Synod, the Church of England’s governing body, officially passed a motion welcoming and affirming transgender people into the church. Being LGBT was also declared “not a sin” by a top bishop.

“The Church of England welcomes transgender people and wholeheartedly wishes for them to be included in the life of the Church,” James said in the statement.

Following the debate and vote last summer regarding the acceptance of the LGBT community, the House of Bishop decided that the “Affirmation of Baptismal Faith, found in Common Worship, is an ideal liturgical rite which trans people can use to mark this moment of personal renewal,” according to a paper discussing the decision.

The House noted that the affirmation “gives priority to the original and authentic baptism of the individual, and the sacramental change it has effected, allowing someone who has undergone a serious and lasting change to re-dedicate their life and identity to Christ.”

“Clergy always have the discretion to compose and say prayers with people as they see fit,” James said.

What else?

The House of Bishops is preparing guidance for clergy that will be released later this year.