Bishops block Church's demand for transgender prayers

Bishops are blocking a new prayer celebrating a person's gender transition after they were urged by the Church of England's 'parliament', General Synod, to draw up plans for a re-baptism style service.

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, was among the strongest voices calling for the new official service and synod members passed a motion calling for bishops to consider fresh liturgy to mark a transgender person's sex change.

But bishops rejected the move at a private meeting at Lambeth Palace last month, the Mail on Sunday reported.

The Church of England's general synod is its ruling body.File pic by Reuters

The decision is likely to cause anger among those calling for a change in the CofE's broadly conservative stance on sexuality but will be a relief for conservatives.

Instead of official liturgies bishops are telling clergy they can use the current baptism vows to re-baptise a person after they have transitioned gender, the church said. A paper discussing their decision will be published before the next meeting of the general synod in February. Although there is no debate on transgender services scheduled for the three-day synod it is likely to be raised in an open question session.

Rev Christina Beardsley, a transgender woman and CofE chaplain who has played a role in advising officials on trans issues, urged synod members 'to stand up for your trans brothers and sisters'.

She posted on Facebook: 'The decision is just terrible and made "in a private meeting"; in other words without any input from the people most directly affected, trans members of the Church. This is utterly disgraceful.'

The Bishop of Norwich, Graham James, said: 'The Church of England welcomes transgender people and wholeheartedly wishes for them to be included in the life of the Church.

'On the matter of whether a new service is needed, the House of Bishops has decided that the current service that is used to affirm baptism can be adapted.

'Clergy always have the discretion to compose and say prayers with people as they see fit.'