A bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will be preaching at a transgender pastor's gender renaming service in New Jersey on Sunday.
Bishop Tracie Bartholomew of the ELCA New Jersey Synod will preach at the service, held at St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church in Hoboken, in which Pastor Rose Beeson will officially take the name "Peter" as part of her transition from female to male.
An announcement for the renaming ceremony posted to Patch.com noted that overall the service will 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," stated the announcement.
"All who believe in promoting inclusion and diversity are welcome to attend this historic occasion."
Beeson, who has in the past worked for LGBT advocacy groups like Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and Reconciling Works, announced to her congregation last summer that she was transgender.
St. Matthew Trinity describes itself as a church where "tradition and inclusivity meet" in which they "embody Luther's reforming spirit" by "welcoming women and LGBT people to all levels of leadership in the church" and "acting in solidarity with those who are homeless, undocumented, or in recovery."
"We envision a world where all people are fed, brought into community and experience the wideness of God's compassion," noted the church's website.
The renaming service is not without its critics, as the website "Exposing the ELCA" said the 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," stated a post last month.
"It is also a sin to encourage sinful behavior. The ELCA is guilty of this. They do this regarding homosexuality and transgenderism."
As with other mainline Protestant denominations, the ELCA leadership has become increasingly pro-LGBT regarding their ecclesiastical policies.
In 2009, the ELCA voted to amend its rules to allow the ordination of homosexuals. The controversial decision led hundreds of congregations to sever their ties with the Church.
In June 2013, the ELCA's Southwest California Synod elected the denomination's first openly gay bishop, the Rev. R. Guy Erwin.