In a meeting at Lambeth yesterday, the bishops of the Church of England decided not to authorize a separate service for trans people taking their true name. The decision was made that the existing service for the affirmation of baptism would suffice. This was decided despite strong urging from many, including the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. The Reverend Chris Newlands, who proposed the motion, said it was “a wonderful opportunity to create a liturgy which speaks powerfully to the particularities of trans people, and make a significant contribution to their well-being and support.” Below is a press release from the Church of England on the matter.
Following the debate and vote at General Synod in July 2017 on Welcoming Transgender People, the House of Bishops has prayerfully considered whether a new nationally commended service might be prepared to mark a gender transition.
The Bishops are inviting clergy to use the existing rite Affirmation of Baptismal Faith. New guidance is also being prepared on the use of the service.
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, said: “The Church of England welcomes transgender people and wholeheartedly wishes for them to be included in the life of the Church.
“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.
“Clergy always have the discretion to compose and say prayers with people as they see fit.”
The Reverend Christina Beardsley, a transgender woman and chaplain in the Church of England, said she was “very disappointed.” She said the bishops “don’t seem to be engaging with transgender people,” and that many trans Christians would be hurt by their decision.