WASHINGTON — The Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C. voted on Saturday to stop using “gendered pronouns” for God in future revisions of its Book of Common Prayer and to “remove all obstacles” for “transgender” participation in church life by making all gender-specific facilities and activities accessible to those who identify as the opposite sex.
“Resolved … that the 79th General Convention direct the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, if revision of the Book of Common Prayer is authorized, to utilize expansive language for God from the rich sources of feminine, masculine, and non-binary imagery for God found in Scripture and tradition and, when possible, to avoid the use of gendered pronouns for God,” the resolution read.
It was passed by a show of hands during the 123rd Convention of the Washington Diocese with only a few opposed, according to Strategic Communications Director Richard Wosson Weinberg.
“While other Christian denominations have embraced more comprehensive language for God, The Episcopal Church has chosen to use masculine pronouns when referring to the first and third person of the Trinity. This choice has had a profound impact on our understanding of God. Our current gender roles shape and limit our understanding of God,” the diocese said in an explanation of the resolution.
“By expanding our language for God, we will expand our image of God and the nature of God,” it continued. “Our new Book of Common Prayer needs to reflect the language of the people and our society. This resolution assumes that the authors of our new Book of Common Prayer will continue in the long tradition of beautiful poetic language. However, this beautiful language should not be limited by gendered pronouns when avoidable.”
According to reports, delegate Linda Calkins of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Laytonsville, Maryland wanted the diocese to go a step further as she held a copy of “The Inclusive Bible: The First Egalitarian Translation” and asked when the version would be utilized.
She read from Genesis 17, in which the “Inclusive Bible” referred to God as “El Shaddai.”
“[I]f we are going to be true to what El Shaddai means, it means God with breasts,” Calkins claimed.
The diocese also stated that its resolution surrounding those with gender dysphoria was to ensure that those who live as the opposite sex feel welcomed as fellow Christians.
“Transgender Christians are searching for a connection with God within a loving community where they can worship and work for equality and justice. Unfortunately, many transgender people are too often left without a place to worship because congregations are not ready to welcome them as their Christian companions,” it asserted. “Fixed boundaries of gender identity are being challenged and churches need to respond.”
The resolution, in addition to decrying violence against “transgender” persons, also urged “all parishes to remove all obstacles to full participation in congregational life by making all gender-specific facilities and activities fully accessible, regardless of gender identity and expression.”
The measure was stated to have passed without dissent.
As previously reported, in 2015, when a group of women known as WATCH moved for the Church of England to start referring to God as a “she” during the weekly liturgy, stating that to make mention of God solely in the male pronoun is sexist, some expressed strong opposition.
“Referring to God as ‘mother’ drives a horse and cart through Scripture. Such an innovation is guaranteed to split the C of E as never before,” wrote Damian Thompson in the Daily Mail.
“Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, has warned us that the church could be extinct in 25 years’ time unless services become more spiritually fulfilling. Calling God ‘she’ will not achieve that fulfillment,” he stated. “The proposed twist of language will do nothing to stop the decline of Christian faith in this country. On the contrary, it will make worshippers squirm. And nothing empties pews faster than that.”
1 John 4:14 reads, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”
Jesus also said in John 15:26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me.”