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Church of England adapts Affirmation of Baptism service to allow transgender Christians to celebrate their gender identity

The new guidance comes after the church came under pressure to welcome the transgender community

2018-12-12

Words: Steve Brown

The Church of England has adapted the Affirmation of Baptism service to allow transgender Christians to celebrate their gender identity.

According to the BBC, the update service would see the person being addressed by their chosen name not their birth name.

The Affirmation of Baptism service isn't a second baptism but is intended for people who wish to make a renewed declaration of their faith.

This follows pressure at the general synod last year where the Church was urged to go further in welcoming the transgender community.

The new guidance emphasises 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 baptised by one Spirit.”

Reverend Dr Tine Beardsley – a retired healthcare chaplain – was one of three trans clergy who were consulted on the guidelines.

She 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 new guidance – which was approved by the House of Bishops – is set to be incorporated into Common Worship.

Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn who also chairs the House of Bishops delegation committee, added: “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 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.”

Some conservative theologians have argued that gender is assigned by God and should not be changed.