Church of England bishops launch campaign to encourage transgenders to serve as vicars

The Canterbury Cathedral is featured here in this image. | Wikimedia Commons/Kai Hendry

Bishops in the Church of England have launched an initiative to encourage transgender individuals to apply for leadership roles in their local churches.

A guidance issued by bishops in the diocese of Lichfield has cautioned that the Church is being perceived as unwelcoming towards LGBT individuals, which discourages young people from attending services.

The document, titled "welcoming and honouring LGBT+ people," has reminded parishioners that homosexuals "can be called to roles of leadership and service in the local church."

"We very much hope that they, like everyone else, feel encouraged to serve on PCCs, or as churchwardens and worship leaders, for instance, and are supported in exploring vocations to licensed lay and ordained ministries," the guidance stated, as reported by The Telegraph.

"Nobody should be told that their sexual or gender identity in itself makes them an unsuitable candidate for leadership in the Church," it continued.

Homosexuals are allowed to serve as priests and bishops in the Church of England, but they are not allowed to enter into same-sex marriages.

However, they are allowed to enter civil partnerships and enter into same-sex relationships as long as they remain celibate.

The Christian Post reported that the document was signed by the bishops of Lichfield, Shrewsbury, Stafford and Wolverhampton.

The bishops stressed that they are not taking a side on the issue of blessing same-sex marriages in the Church, which officially defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

They acknowledged that the debates on the issue "seem likely to continue, and perhaps to grow in intensity, over the coming years."

The group stated that the purpose of the document was to address issues that are being faced by all Christians seeking to "live alongside others in the Church which is the Body of Christ."

They further maintained that no one should be excluded or discouraged from being baptized or taking Communion because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bishops also cautioned against "intrusive questioning" about other people's sexuality, noting that it is "almost always inappropriate."

The church leaders also contended that it is "unacceptable" to say that sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed by faith or that homosexuality signifies a lack of faith.

The release of the document came after the Church's general synod voted in favor a proposal last year to urge the British government to ban conversion therapy.

The synod had also approved a new liturgy for transgender individuals, but bishops have contended that it was not needed as priests can use existing liturgy for affirmation of baptismal faith.