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Church of England offers new guidance for clergy on approved transgender 'baptisms' — through traditional Affirmation of Baptism

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The Church of England is offering guidance to its clergy on how to perform "baptisms" on transgender parishioners who want to celebrate their new gender identity.

In 2017, the church voted to approve these "baptism-style" services for transgender people to honor those congregants who have electively changed their sex.

What are the details?

According to the BBC, the Church of England has recommended the Affirmation of Baptism service to permit transgender Christians to honor their transition to their new sexual identity.

The House of Bishops approved such guidance, which will be integrated into Common Worship.

Such a service would allow the transgender person to be addressed and recognized by their chosen name and gender, and not that of their biological birth.

The Affirmation of Baptism is traditional in welcoming people to the church as they renew, or make a new declaration, of faith.

The rites are generally preceded by a person's public declaration of faith and renouncing of sin, and is followed by holy communion.

The outlet reported that the guidance provided "emphasizes that the Church 'welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ, and rejoices in the diversity of that body into which all Christians have been baptized by one Spirit."

What are people saying about this?

A spokesperson for the Church told The Guardian that the new guidance is geared toward encouraging Church clergy to work along with transgender people to cultivate services to tell the story of each transgender person.

One chaplain consulted about the decision is the Rev. Dr. Tina Beardsley, a retired chaplain and — as the outlet notes — "one of three trans clergy who were consulted on the guidelines."

Beardsley said, "For me, the most important thing was actually having this certificate to say that I had renewed my baptism vows, and it had my chosen name on it."

The Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson 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," Henderson continued, "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."

A Church statement obtained by Newsweek read, "Collectively, we have sought to ensure that these new Pastoral Guidance notes provide a rich and generous space for trans people to locate their lives in the existing liturgy for the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith."

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