Church to allow gay and transgender ministers

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Baptist church has said it will allow gay and transgender ministers to be ordained.

The First Baptist Church of Greenville – in South Carolina – has said it will allow LGBT and transgender ministers to be ordained after a lengthy debate between the church community.

The church held discussions – which lasted six months – centred around the question: “Can you worship and live with the LGBT community in the church?”

The result was to allow gay and trans unions and ministers reports Premier Christian Radio.

Senior Minister Jim Dant said the church was in favour of “embracing the complexities of gender identity.”

“What I heard was, ‘We need to do the right thing, regardless of what anybody thinks or says about us. There were a few people who said, ‘Are they going to start calling us the gay church in town?” Dant said in Christian Today.

He said church members knew “being open and welcoming to all people is part of the essential nature of our community of faith” – adding that even those against the decision had chosen to remain as part of the congregation.

The decision was met with opposition from a number of anti-gay groups – including the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an umbrella coalition of 2,000 moderate Baptist churches.

In a statement, the homophobic body said: “The foundation of a Christian sexual ethic is faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman and celibacy in singleness.”

In July, the largest Baptist university in the world dropped “homosexual acts” from its misconduct policy.

A university spokeswoman said at the time: “These changes were made because we didn’t believe the language reflected Baylor’s caring community.

“We are pleased with the recent changes to the policy language and that it states more plainly the expectations of the university.”