LONDON — The Church of England is considering adding a ceremony to its services for “transgender” persons who seek to be re-baptized in their new gender identity and under their new name.
According to reports, Chris Newlands, the vicar of Lancaster Priory, recently proposed the addition to the General Synod after being approached by a girl who identifies as a boy who wished to be baptized again under her male name.
“I said, ‘Once you’ve been baptized, you’re baptized,'” Newlands recalled to the Guardian. “[But] he said, ‘But I was baptized as a girl, under a different name.’”
“I said, ‘Let me have a think about it.’ So we did, and then we created a service, which was an affirmation of baptismal vows where we could introduce him to God with his new name and his new identity,” he said.
Newlands soon submitted a motion for the issue to be considered by the denomination as a whole.
“That this Synod, recogniing the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition,” it read.
The motion was approved by the parochial church council, the Deanery Synod and the Blackburn Diocese, and is set to next be debated by the General Synod. However, it may be some time before the matter is discussed as it is among a queue of other topics up for consideration.
“I wanted to bring it to the General Synod as a commitment that bishops will take seriously, and for them to take the next step of getting a liturgy which parish priests can use for people who do the transition where they can be affirmed in the church,” Newlands stated.
But Andrew Symesn of the Anglican Mainstream said that the proposal runs counter to Christian beliefs.
“To recognize all people is something the church should be doing, but to have a service of blessing for someone to change their gender is a new idea,” he said. “The Christian faith has always taught that people are created male and female.”
“We are aware there are a number of people who want to change from one gender to another and that’s a new thing for the church to deal with,” Symesn continued. “It would be something that would go against the teachings of the church up till now.”
The denomination had also debated female ordination up until last year, with some asserting that requiring only men to hold leadership roles was akin to Sharia law. The Church of England ordained its first woman bishop in January, but not without opposition as one man called out during the service, “No! Not in the Bible.”