Church of England bishops reject prayer service for transitioning people

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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.

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Joan Cesare
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Joan Cesare

Shame on you!

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signe spencer
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signe spencer

Hmmm. If I were transgender and the Church required me to be re-baptized, that might feel weird, I think, as though my whole previous life including baptism, was being discounted. Women who get married and take a new name, or people who change their names for other reasons are not required or even asked to be re-baptized. Re-Affirming the baptism with a new name seems more appropriate. Maybe transgender people feel differently.... as though they really are a new person and whatever happened previously in their life is no longer relevant or valid??

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Cynthia Katsarelis
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Re-baptism wasn't the request. CoE's General Synod asked for the development of prayers and liturgy that includes the renaming. Typically, the CoE bishops didn't make their decision with the input of actual trans people, their suggestion is inadequate and insensitive, in their view.

Women who take a new name in marriage have a liturgy for that... marriage.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

Transgender community asked for these rites -- it was not a top down idea.

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Jon threlkeld
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Jon threlkeld

Well. It looks like a few fragments of sanity remain in the minds of the English bishops.

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