To observe LGBT pride month, the historic Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., has invited the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge of the Episcopal Church to become the first openly transgender priest to preach from its pulpit on Sunday.
Partridge, who is the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, has been invited as a guest preacher to speak from Canterbury Pulpit at the cathedral, according to The Associated Press.
Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, will preside at the service, which will include readings and prayers by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The objective is "to send a symbolic message in support of greater equality for the transgender community,' according to Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral.
"Cameron Partridge is a priest of great intellect, pastoral presence, and possesses a deep passion for the Gospel. We are excited for him to preach at the Cathedral," Hall told The Huffington Post.
The LGBT community "suffers from acts of violence, discrimination, unemployment, homelessness, and financial inequality," the dean added. "We at Washington National Cathedral are striving to send a message of love and affirmation, especially to LGBT youth who suffer daily because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. We want to proclaim to them as proudly and unequivocally as we can: Your gender identity is good and your sexual orientation is good because that's the way that God made you."
The Episcopal Church voted to allow the ordination of transgender people in September 2012.
Last year, the cathedral announced it would allow holding of same-sex marriages within its premises, and also celebrated the Supreme Court ruling revoking a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act. The ruling has paved the way for federal judges to strike down several state amendments and laws banning gay marriage.
Most evangelical Christians believe gender identity is determined by God.
"Is my sex determined by my decision in my mind, or by God's design in my nature?" theologian John Piper asked in a post on the DesiringGod blog.
"Just as physical nature reveals the truth about God, so physical nature reveals truth about sexual identity," wrote Piper, responding to the cover story of June 9 issue of the Time magazine with the subtitle, "On politics, happiness, and why genitalia isn't destiny," featuring Laverne Cox, a transgender and star of the Netflix drama "Orange Is the New Black."
"Whom we should worship is not left to our preferences, and who we are sexually is not left to our preferences. Both are dictated by God's revelation in nature," Piper said.