Manchester

Transgender baptisms offered at Greater Manchester church

Jean Clements / The New Chapel Unitarian and Free Christian Church in Denton Image copyright The New Chapel Unitarian and Free Christian Church
Image caption The transgender baptisms will be carried out by worship leader Jean Clements at the Unitarian church in Greater Manchester

Transgender baptisms are to be offered for the first time in the UK by a church in Greater Manchester.

The New Chapel Unitarian and Free Christian in Denton, Tameside, agreed the move at its annual general meeting.

Jean Clements, the church's worship leader, proposed the change after meeting a couple who had a transgender child.

The church was moved to make a change in order to help those in the same situation.

Mrs Clements said: "I felt saddened by the fact that this family were being shunned by many mainstream churches.

"However, when the family came to New Chapel, the congregation welcomed them with open arms. "

'Freedom and tolerance'

Mrs Clements described her congregation 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.

New Chapel stressed it is for other Unitarian Chapels within neighbouring districts "to decide for themselves whether they wish to offer similar services".

The church said the transgender services would be "very similar" to an adult baptism.

"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.

Derek McAuley, the 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 and has been receptive to interfaith marriages.

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