Church of England to hold services to mark gender change

PHOTO: Reuters

LONDON - The Church of England on Tuesday issued guidance for parishes to plan "creative and sensitive" services to help transgender people mark their transition.

Services can include anointment with oil, sprinkling with holy water and existing liturgy and the transgender person's new name would be used in the ceremony.

But the guidance said these were not second baptisms.

"The Church of England welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the body of Christ," said the guidance.

"The House encourages ministers to respond to such requests in a creative and sensitive way.

"It is appropriate... to identify the preference of a transgender person in respect of their name and gendered (or other) pronouns," it added.

Clergy are encouraged to incorporate the rites used for Affirmation of Baptismal Faith services - when previously baptised worshippers affirm their faith - into services marking gender transition.

The document was approved by the House of Bishops and follows a motion adopted at General Synod in 2017 recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in churches.

"We are absolutely clear that everyone is made in the image of God and that all should find a welcome in their parish Church," said Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn.