A church in Denton in the Greater Manchester area, has become the first in the UK to offer transgender baptisms. The New Chapel Unitarian and Free Christian confirmed the measure at its annual general meeting last week. The church’s worship leader, Jean Clements, said that the motion was made after she met a same sex couple who had a transgender child she felt was “shunned” by the mainstream churches. The church decided to make the historic change in order to assist people in the same situation. The church said the transgender services would be very similar to an adult baptism.
“I felt saddened by the fact that this family were being shunned by many mainstream churches”, Clements reported to the Manchester evening News. “However, the family came to New Chapel, the congregation welcomed the family with open arms. They should be able to feel recognised in celebration for who they truly are. While I am being congratulated for our progress on this particular matter, I would like to thank one courageous girl for inspiring me to think carefully about this issue in the first place,” Mrs Clements added.
To the BBC, she described her church as a “multi-generational community who are very willing to accept change and progress” and said the Unitarian Movement stands for freedom, reason and tolerance. Clements stressed that it is for other Unitarian Chapels within neighbouring districts “to decide for themselves whether they wish to offer similar services”, but Derek McAuley, chief officer of the church’s General Assembly, said it is “quite possible” other churches would follow suit.
The Unitarian church was the first to allow divorced people to remarry, is supportive of same-sex weddings and has been receptive to interfaith marriages.