Redbridge Rainbow Community welcomes reverend’s ‘transgender baptism’ calls

Redbridge Rainbow Community chairman Matthew Walters. Picture: Redbridge Rainbow Community

Redbridge Rainbow Community chairman Matthew Walters. Picture: Redbridge Rainbow Community - Credit: Archant

An LGBT charity has backed calls for a debate on transgender baptisms.

Chairman of Redbridge Rainbow Community, which supports lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, Matthew Walters welcomed the move after Rev Chris Newlands, of Lancaster and Morecambe Deanery, proposed a motion to the General Synod – the ruling body of the Church of England – to debate the issue.

He wants to introduce a “baptism” or ceremony to mark the new identities of those who have undergone a gender transition.

Matthew, a practising Christian, said: “I am delighted that he’s actively celebrating members of his transgender community and encouraging others to do the same.

“We look for a time where all individuals can feel respected by all members of their community regardless of sexuality or gender identity. As God’s children, we should learn to love and respect one another. Not spread hatred and discrimination.”

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Assistant priest at St Mary’s Church, High Road, South Woodford, Rev Santou Beurklian-Carter said there could only be “one baptism in a lifetime”.

“All churches and Christian denominations around the world made an agreement, historically, that there is to be only one baptism,” she said.

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“People may look and feel different and called a different name but their soul is the same. And it is their soul we are baptising.

“We will all discard our bodies and earthly identities eventually.”

She said she could not see churches “fundamentally” changing their view of baptism because “it’s not a gender or identity issue”.

Rev Ian Tarrant, of St Mary’s Church, said: “Maybe not a new baptism, but a ceremony to mark the change. The church needs to debate these things, drawing on scripture to find a way forward.”

Matthew believes other churches should learn from the one he attends, the Metropolitan Community Church of East London, which has accepted him being gay.

“I believe that God made me the way that I am and that sexuality is how we are born and not a personal choice,” he added.

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