People participate in a vigil against Anglican homophobia, outside the General Synod of the Church of England in London, Britain.
People participate in a vigil against Anglican homophobia, outside the General Synod of the Church of England in London, Britain. (REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

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The Church of England voted over the weekend to welcome and affirm transgender people into their congregations.

"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," says the Rev. Christopher Newlands on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod.

The motion about transgender people reads: "That this Synod, recognizing the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person's gender transition."

Christian advocate Andrea Williams is horrified at the church's motion.

"This same church is now giving a national platform to ideologies which want to destroy biblical Christianity. The Synod is also to debate a motion called 'Welcoming Transgender People', which will consider introducing transgender 'baptisms' to 'reaffirm' those who have decided to identify as the opposite gender to which they are born. This is nothing short of a heretical assault on God's creation ordinance and the very meaning of baptism," Wililams wrote in a piece posted before the meeting. "These ideologies are a poison seeping into the very roots of the church, and if left unchecked, the roots will rot."

The announcement was one of many made during the church's four-day general synod meeting, which began July 7 and concludes July 11.

The church also upheld a ban on conversion therapy, that is, measures to help people who identify as LGBT deal with their same-sex attractions.

"People may be able to alter their behavior, but they can never alter their innate desire," Jayne Ozanne, who represents laity in the diocese of Oxford, said. "This debate is actually quite simple. Do we trust our medical health professions and academics, including many sincere godly Christians, to know what they are talking about? Should we listen to the voices of those we and others have unwittingly harmed? Should we learn from our mistakes and seek to protect future generations from the sort of damage that was done to me and so many others?" 

 Williams says the move against conversion therapy could be a sign of the rise of false prophets in churches.

"Let me be very clear: Jayne Ozanne is acting in her exclusive capacity as a homosexual rights advocate, not on behalf of the church, but in order to undermine the church. Her disdain for authentic Christianity can be found in her published material on so-called 'spiritual abuse,'" Williams says in an article on Christian concern posted before the synod meeting.

She continues: 

Spiritual abuse is a very serious matter, no allegation of which should be made lightly. But according to Jayne Ozanne, spiritual abuse can be just about anything found in orthodox Christianity that she doesn't agree with: promoting purity before marriage, preaching that sexual expression belongs within life-long marriage between one man and one woman or therapeutic help to deal with unwanted same-sex attraction.

Jayne Ozanne specifically targets Church of England churches belonging to the charismatic movement, such as HTB and Soul Survivor, as well as healing ministries such as Ellel and Living Waters. She appears to claim that spiritual gifts, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and even raising hands in worship, can be considered spiritual abuse ... We must recognize Jayne Ozanne's Private Member's Motion for the deception that it is, and the existential threat that it poses

Jessilyn Justice is the director of online news for Charisma. Born and raised in a pastor's family in Alabama, she attended Lee University and the Washington Journalism Center. She's passionate about sharing God's goodness through storytelling. Tell her what you think of this story on Twitter @jessilynjustice.

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