TORONTO – An Ontario pastor who came to his congregation as a trans woman last month says he hopes his sermon will inspire others to feel accepted and embrace his own “truth.”
Junia ‘June’ Joplin, the leading pastor of Lorne Park Baptist Church in Mississauga, Ontario, came to her congregation in an online sermon on June 14.
– I want you to hear me when I say I shouldn’t just be a pastor. I must be a woman. My friends, my family, my name is Junia. You can call me June. I’m a trans woman and my pronouns are she and she “, said Joplin during the sermon delivered via Zoom amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joplin said in an interview with CTV’s Your Morning that he was told in his first year at a seminar in Richmond, Virginia, to “tell the truth” and that this was the most important rule to be guided as a pastor.
Although Joplin acknowledges that the church has not always welcomed members of the LGBTQ + community, she said it was her time to leave.
“Based on the journey I’ve been on, the journey of self-acceptance and getting some help, and I had seen progress being made where my congregation was in terms of congregational life, it made sense [to come out]”Joplin said on Tuesday.
The virtual sermon was about embracing the truth and ended with Joplin sharing hers.
“I was anxious, nervous, scared in a way that I don’t think I ever delivered a sermon,” said Joplin, adding that she was not sure how her congregation would react.
However, Joplin had already determined that she should share her truth, regardless of the outcome.
“I wondered if perhaps this was the last opportunity that I could say something like that, at least to this congregation, and I hoped that the message I had to deliver would make a difference in the lives of not only those close to me. the reach would also be wider, “she said.
Since leaving, Joplin said his congregation’s response is “all over the place”, but most have supported it.
“In most congregations, you have people who are theologically or socially from across the spectrum, and I would say that most of the people who came to me were extremely positive, accepting and loving,” said Joplin. .
“I had lunch with some church members on Sunday afternoon and they said, ‘You know, we think this new version of our pastor is better than ever,'” he added.
Joplin said she chose the name ‘Junia’ for herself, in honor of an apostle in the New Testament Roman Letter that male testament translators “masculinized for centuries”.
“They saw that name and [thought] there could have been no apostle and therefore they created a name that didn’t really exist – they put an ‘s’ at the end of it ‘Junius’, “said Joplin, adding that this is how the translators were. created a male version of the name .
“She is a Christian leader who has had to assert her femininity, her femininity through the ages.”
As a nod to the support she received on her way out, Joplin wore her “very favorite dress” during the interview with CTV’s Your Morning – a piece she chose last year.
“I was introducing men at the time, but my friends helped me choose this dress and the store staff was really great, they saw me looking at the dresses and said ‘we can start a dressing room for you, if you want’ and there was no problem with that, “said Joplin.
Joplin said his journey was difficult, but said he hoped his sermon would inspire others to feel accepted and hopeful about their own identities.
“I want you to hear me say that God delights in you and feels pure joy at discovering your precious identity. I’m sorry for the times when you lied about who you are in the eyes of God. I’m sorry for the times when I was told that who you are is a sinner or broken, “said Joplin during the sermon.
“These words are not true. They are misleading and bad, and we have already lost many brothers to this deadly theology.”