The church has always gathered as a community to mark the most important life passages of its members, so when Beck Schaefer, a member of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields, Toronto, legally transitioned from female to male, changing his name and identity documents to reflect a truer sense of his identity, the parish witnessed and blessed the moment.
However, a liturgy for that purpose doesn’t exist in the Anglican Church, so the parish created one. “We understood that this wasn’t a re-baptism,” said the Rev. Maggie Helwig, incumbent. “God always knew who Beck was in his fullness, and received him as himself from the beginning. But we also knew that this was a moment closely tied to the baptismal covenant, and Beck’s growth as a disciple.” The liturgy was modelled on the Anglican Church’s reaffirmation of baptismal vows, but also included an acknowledgement of Beck’s new name and gender identity as a part of his baptismal vocation.
“God created me transgender, and calls me to live openly and authentically,” said Beck at the service. “This is not a solitary path but rather a call that I am to live out in relation to others and as a member of the body of Christ.”