Bishops under pressure to explain 'dismissive' rejection of transgender services

Church of England bishops are under pressure to explain their 'dismissive' consideration of transgender liturgies.

The call for a special service to celebrate a person's gender transition was initially made by the CofE's ruling general synod in July but was rejected by the Church's House of Bishops. Explaining their decision the bishops released a statement saying they 'prayerfully considered' the matter and ruled that clergy should use an existing service to mark the occasion.

But Christian Today revealed on January 25 that the House of Bishops had not in fact discussed or debated the matter. Instead the decision had been made by just nine bishops on a newly formed sub-committee called the Delegation Committee. It was taken with a number of other decisions which were rubber-stamped by the whole House of Bishops without debate.

The letter from OneBodyOneFaith was sent to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on Friday.

A LGBT lobby group within the Church, OneBodyOneFaith, is branding the decision and the Church's failure to explain the process fully as 'spin', 'incompetence' and 'an attempt to circumvent' the ruling general synod.

In a letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York today the group calls for an inquiry into how this decision was reached, saying it had damaged trust in the hierarchy.

'We find it astonishing that a motion clearly approved at synod, which explicitly calls on the House of Bishops to collectively consider an issue of such sensitivity, has been treated in such a dismissive way. Surely an issue such as this and one which received huge support in synod was worthy of the whole House of Bishop's discussion and "prayerful consideration"?

'At a time when the welcome offered by the Church is under close scrutiny, particularly to LGBTI+ people, this is once again a case of actions contradicting words,' the letter says.

'The words of apology or welcome to LGBTI+ people are a good first step but mean absolutely nothing if not accompanied by corresponding action. The issues outlined above have yet again undermined our faith that the bishops of the Church of England mean what they say on this issue: this continues to cause hurt and distress to far too many people.'

Christian Today understands the issue will be addressed in questions to the bishops at the synod next week.