Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Recently the Church of England approved an alternative to their baptismal liturgy that removed references to the Devil and changed the statement regarding how Christians respond to evil.
There is now another proposal/recommendation before the Church of England’s General Synod recommending that they develop a baptismal liturgy, or a baptism-like liturgy, for transgendered persons.
Rev Chris Newlands, vicar of Lancaster Priory, proposed the motion after he was asked by a young transgendered person to be rebaptized after the change. To this person, a new “identity” required a new baptism. Newlands recognizes how difficult it is to experience this transgendered change, so he was convinced “the church needs to take a lead and be much more proactive to make sure they are given a warm welcome.”
Newlands recalls the conversation that caused him to consider this motion.
Newlands was asked by a church member who had undergone gender reassignment if he could be re-baptised. Recalling the conversation, Newlands said: “I said: ‘Once you’ve been baptised, you’re baptised’. He said: ‘But I was baptised 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.”
This proposal for developing a liturgical, baptism-like service for officially recognizing transgender persons was proposed by a Diocesan Synod (April 2015) for the General Synod to consider.
WELCOMING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE
…to move on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod:
'That this Synod, recognising 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.'
Because of our understanding of the Word of God and God’s good design for humanity created male and female, we would be “welcoming but not affirming.” This proposal would be both “welcoming and affirming.”
If you were asked this question, how would you respond? It is not a matter of if but when you will be asked. It is important for you to have thought this through so that you can respond in a manner that is both biblically faithful and pastorally sensitive, without compromising either.