American Baptist

He Didn’t Know The Kind Of Baptists He Called

by Rev . Dr. Cody J. Sanders

Yesterday, I received a message from someone at the Massachusetts Family Institute asking for my church’s help in repealing the new transgender public accommodations law that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed earlier this summer. This law protects transgender people from discrimination in public places, including restrooms.

The call followed two days after a letter. The Institute is “troubled” by the ways church bathrooms will be impacted by this bill, arguing by phone and letter that churches are the “best places” to accomplish their goal of repealing the law by ballot initiative “because this issue challenges God’s very creation of male and female.”

I guess he didn’t know the Baptist church he was calling. 

He didn’t know that Old Cambridge Baptist Church has celebrated the gift of LGBTQ lives for over three decades, led by lesbian and gay pastors for the past 33 years. He didn’t know that OCBC joined with many others in working many, many months for this trans rights bill to become law. (Even in a liberal state like Massachusetts, it was a political struggle.)

He didn’t know that at OCBC, our bathrooms already are gender neutral and we’ve not once felt threatened by this.

He never considered that when this Baptist congregation looks into the face of trans and genderqueer people, we don’t see a threat to God’s creation. We see God—the divine image in every face, bespeaking the transformation and complexity and transcendence that is the very evidence of the Divine in our midst.

Years ago, I heard a South African Methodist minister named Trevor Hudson say, “Disorganized good is no match for organized evil.” That quote rings in my ears all the time and never more loudly than today. We must keep organizing for the good and just.

And we cannot now let the good work we’ve done be undone.

Here’s a prayer our congregation prayed week after week until the trans public accommodations bill was passed. Of course, we didn’t just pray with our words, we prayed through our faithful actions: collecting signatures and calling our representatives and writing the governor and hosting trans education and giving our communion offering to our state’s trans rights group.

But as a congregation planted firmly in the gospel of peace rooted in justice, seeing the imago Dei in every face, we also prayed:

Prayer for Transgender Justice from Old Cambridge Baptist Church

For our transgender siblings who embody your divine work of transformation in their own lives, we give you thanks and pray for their protection against violence and for their well-being in our world.

For our intersex siblings who embody the complexity of your creation in ways that sometimes take us by surprise, we give you thanks and pray for their protection against violence and for their well-being in our world. 

For our genderqueer siblings who embody your divine transcendence of gender for all to witness, we give you thanks and pray for their protection against violence and for their well-being in our world. 

For our state and for our nation, we pray for justice to be realized for our transgender, intersex, and genderqueer siblings and we commit ourselves to bringing about that justice.

May we always revel in the goodness of your creation, O God. Amen. 

Let’s keep praying together, with our heartfelt words and with our faithful actions, so that the good work we’ve done is not undone, and the justice still to come is ushered swiftly in.

(Note: Readers are welcomed to use and reprint this prayer liturgically in any way they wish.)

Photo provided by Rev. Dr. Cody Sanders

Comments (7)

Jon Spangler

I fail to see how limiting
I fail to see how limiting the use of bathrooms to someone’s physical gender at birth–or limiting who can love whom–is justified by or relevant to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Redemption is offered freely (John 3:16, etc.) for everyone, regardless of how we pee or whatever, right?

Summer Knuday

Thank you for sending me this
Thank you for sending me this beautuful email.
I have bookmarked it for reference sgain and again
Its Christian family like you that is the beacon on a hill for all the world to see and a refuge for the LGBTIQ like me
Gods very best to uou always

Karis Post

Bravo! Sharing….
Bravo! Sharing….

Hana Chan

as a gay Christian, it’s so
as a gay Christian, it’s so easy to feel hated by your own kind, seeing this moved me almost to tears. thank you for embodying true Christian love. God Bless You and your church family!

Starla Lowry

I wish you were close to me.
I wish you were close to me. I am TS, but was ordained as a male in a Southern Baptist Church. The only place I have had opportunity to preach was in a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I would love to be a member of a Baptist Church that support transsexual ministers.

Rev. Countess Cooper

Thank for this article and
Thank for this article and sharing this beautiful prayer. You and OCBC are leaders in bringing God’s peace and justice to all people, esp LGBTQIA individuals. We are co-labored in this ministry of justice. It would be great if we could coalesce and start a movement of faith and justice in action. People need to know that the Christian Right (CR) is not the only voice of Christian principles in the world today. In fact, our understanding of the gospel is spiritually responsible AND socially relevant, whereas the CR is not. Many LGBTQIA youth and adults are waiting to hear from us across the nation and around the world.

Grace and Peace,

Your friend in ministry

Anna Van Damme

Though I am not transgendered
Though I am not transgendered myself, my dear wish is that more churches embrace the stance that your church has taken! I don’t understand how anyone calling themselves “Christian” can turn away anyone, much less our LGBT brethren, and being so hateful in the process!

Comments are closed.