Pastor who ran Kardashian youth group backs Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner with stepdaughter Kim Kardashian.Instagram

A worship pastor who started a youth group that met in the home of Kris and Bruce – now Caitlyn – Jenner has spoken of Jenner's Christian faith and expressed support for her in her male-to-female transition.

Josh Cobia was appointed to the Jenners' church in Calabasas and became involved with the family, running the youth group at the home that features in the Keeping up with the Kardashians reality TV series at their invitation.

Recalling the period in an article for the Huffington Post, Cobia says that while the family's attendance at the church they had helped to found tailed off, "Caitlyn stuck around".

"She was there at church almost every Sunday, sitting in the front row and singing along to every song if she could," he writes. "She would chat with me before services and make fun of how I wore sandals every day. I used to think that I was wasting her time before the service...why would this Olympian/reality TV super star want to talk with me?

"But the more I talked with her on Sundays the more I realized she actually cared about me. She wanted to know what was going on in my career and why I wasn't preaching yet. I knew her family, I knew her simply as a parent to two girls in my youth group, and she just wanted someone to talk to. We did just that.

"Caitlyn listened with great intention to the sermons at my church. I could tell she just loved being there. Caitlyn was the one in this family who never went out claiming to be a Christian. Her statement was her attendance at church, week after week, Sunday after Sunday."

Shortly after Cobia left the church, the news broke that Jenner was transitioning. Cobia says that the reaction from his Christian friends was "mostly either silent or derogatory", adding: "Today, I can't help but think how backwards that is."

He says: "Caitlyn knows who Jesus is, and Jesus knows her by name. Whether that sits comfortably on a timeline or blog comment, I know firsthand that Caitlyn has heard the good news."

He says that while he would not claim to know whether Jenner "knows Christ" now, "I will tell you that in my limited time in the Jenner/Kardashian home Caitlyn was the most grounded and sensible person there."

Coiba adds: "What's more pressing to me is how the church (my tribe) will respond to Caitlyn. The LGBTQ people I know are loving, accepting, beautiful people and many of them have been so hurt by their church communities that they have left the faith.

"Jesus wasn't one to turn away from those the world had labeled broken. He was the one who would walk towards them with open arms."