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Church of England overwhelmingly approves motion to welcome transgenders

(Reuters/Hannah McKay)A member of the continuing praying presence walks past a vigil against Anglican Homophobia, outside the General Synod of the Church of England in London, Britain, February 15, 2017.

The General Synod of the Church of England has overwhelmingly voted in favor of a motion to welcome and affirm transgender individuals to the congregation.

On Sunday, the Synod voted to approve a motion that recognizes "the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church."

The motion also calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether special services can be prepared to mark a person's gender transition.

According to Christian News Network, the House of Bishops voted 30–2 in favor of the motion, with two abstentions, while the House of Clergy voted 127–28 to approve it, with 16 abstentions. In the House of Laity, 127 supported the measure, with 48 opposed and eight abstaining from the vote.

"I hope that we can make a powerful statement to say that we believe that trans people are cherished and loved by God, who created them, and is present through all the twists and turns of their lives." said the Rev. Christopher Newlands of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod at the beginning of the assembly.

Newlands, who proposed the motion, stated in 2015 that he came up with the idea after he was approached by a girl, who identifies as a boy and wants to be baptized again under a male name.

"I said, 'Let me have a think about it.' So we did, and then we created a service, which was an affirmation of baptismal vows where we could introduce him to God with his new name and his new identity," he recounted at the time.

The Synod reportedly rejected an amendment proposed by Nick Land of the Diocese of York, calling on the House of Bishops to consider the theological and pastor ramifications of gender transitions.

Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend John Sentamu, argued that the world needs to hear the Church say that LGBT orientation and identity is not a crime. "LGBT orientation and identity is not a sickness, and LGBT orientation and identity is not a sin," he said.

On Saturday, the Synod approved a motion calling on the U.K. government to ban gay "conversion therapy."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, said that the Church will spend three years working on a document that would outline its view on sexuality.

He said he continues to uphold the definition of marriage as a union between man and woman. However, a number of church bodies within the Anglican Communion have challenged that view, including The Scottish Episcopal Church, which was the first mainstream denomination in the U.K. to approve gay marriage in June.

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