On Sunday, parishioners of a Lutheran church in New Jersey celebrated the transition of their formerly-female transgender pastor with a renaming ceremony, which the Huffington Post called a "sacred way to acknowledge and bless the Rev. Peter R. Beeson’s gender transition."
“The renaming ceremony provided an opportunity ... for us to show the broader world that there are faithful Christians who support LGBTQ+ people and offer a counter message to the one of fear and hate so prevalent today,” the pastor formerly known as Rose Beeson told the Huffington Post. “Particularly for people who may be pondering their gender identity or sexual orientation â particularly young people â this provided us an opportunity to say that God loves you, and that all people are created in the image of God.”
An announcement from the church for the renaming ceremony noted that the theme of the service was to affirm "transgender individuals who take on a new name and remember their baptism."
"It is one of the first times a minister of a congregation in the ELCA has transitioned from female to male while serving as pastor, acting on St. Matthew Trinity's aspiration to be a church where tradition and inclusivity meet," the announcement read.
Rest assured, the renaming ceremony and the strong liberal bend of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America denomination are not going uncriticized. Exposing the ELCA, a website run by Former ELCA seminary student and church member Dan Skogen said in a recent post that Beeson's renaming ceremony goes against both faith and reason:
"You cannot change your sex. You cannot change your gender. Those are facts. Trying to do so goes against God's will for you and is a sin against God," Skogen wrote. "It is also a sin to encourage sinful behavior. The ELCA is guilty of this. They do this regarding homosexuality and transgenderism."