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CANADA: New trans-inclusive liturgy approved

CANADA: New trans-inclusive liturgy approved

By John Longhurst
July 18, 2023

Theo Robinson, a trans person who's a priest in the Diocese of Rupert's Land, says a decision by the Anglican Church of Canada shows the church is "not just about words, but also about actions" when it comes to welcoming members of the LGBTTQ+ community.

It created a liturgy to celebrate people who transition genders. Titled "Pastoral Liturgies for Journeys for Gender Transition and Affirmation," the resource for Anglican churches in Canada was approved at the denomination's General Synod in Calgary this month.

"I'm pretty excited for it," said Robinson, noting he was part of the consultative team that helped create it.

"It reaffirms we are an inclusive church," he said.

Geoff Woodcroft, Bishop of Rupert's Land, was at the general synod where the resource was approved.

Immediately upon return from Calgary, he recommended it to the 65 parishes in the diocese, which takes in southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario.

"The new liturgy acknowledges that people who are transitioning go through huge changes," said Woodcroft, noting the resource had been under development and trial in the church for about five years.

"It's a time when they have been figuring out who they are, and who they were intended to be. This gives us an opportunity to bless them on that journey, to let them know they are not travelling alone, that Jesus and the church are with them."

For Woodcroft, the new liturgy is also a chance for the church to acknowledge it has "not done very well" for trans people in the past.

"We have not made them feel welcome or accepted, they have been shunned," he said. "But now we want to say they are welcome here, that you are important, a loved child of God and we will do all in our power to support you."

The liturgy includes thanks for the person who is transitioning, acknowledges their gifts and invites them to share their new name.

It concludes with a blessing, asking God to give the transitioned person "a new measure of grace as they take this new name."

At the same time Woodcroft commended the new liturgy for use by churches in the Diocese, he sent a letter to Stephen Kaziimba, Primate of Uganda, condemning his recent decision to champion that government's new law criminalizing homosexuality.

"We are outraged that a member church of the Anglican communion could recklessly betray Christ's teaching to love, and blatantly violate The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Woodcroft wrote in the letter, which was also sent to Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Church.

"We are deeply saddened and disturbed to know that Ugandan LGBTTQ+ people, their families and allies must live in prisons of isolation formed by fear," he said, adding "the disciples of the Diocese of Rupert's Land hear God's call to care for God's children in every time and place."

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