UPDATED August 11, 2021: Rev. Junia Joplin, who was fired by her former church in Ontario, Canada, after coming out as transgender, has filed a lawsuit against the church for wrongful termination. Joplin pastored at Lorne Park Baptist Church in Mississauga and is seeking $200,000 in damages.
“Too often, religion is used as a sort of blanket excuse to justify all kinds of bad behaviour – including human rights violations,” said Joplin in a tweet about the suit. “That way of thinking needs to be challenged.”
Joplin’s suit alleges that Lorne Park Baptist Church broke the Human Rights Code by discriminating on the basis of gender identity and also posits that the church was “unfair” in how it went about deciding to terminate the pastor’s employment. This process included holding several town hall meetings, after which church members voted by a narrow margin to remove Joplin as pastor.
The church counters that this process was carried out in a “careful and thoughtful manner.” In a statement Wednesday, the chair of the church’s executive council, David Huctwith said, “In the end, the congregation voted to terminate her employment as lead pastor of the church, with the majority of the votes to terminate made for theological reasons. We offered her what we think was a fair severance.” The church also believes it complied with the Human Rights Code, which has an exemption for religious organizations.
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ChurchLeaders original article written on July 23, 2020, below:
Just one month after their pastor announced she is transgender, a church in Ontario, Canada has voted to remove her from her position. Junia “June” Joplin told the members of Lorne Park Baptist Church she is transgender in a sermon streamed online on June 14, 2020.
For Joplin, coming out is an expression of her God-given identity: “I want to be the person that God created me to be,” she said in her sermon. “I want to experience the health and wholeness and abundance of life that Christ has been calling me to experience.”
Joplin was the pastor of Lorne Park Baptist Church in Mississauga, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto). Originally named Justin Joplin and from North Carolina in the United States, Joplin moved to Canada in 2014 to serve as the senior pastor of Lorne Park. Joplin has two children.
On July 21st, Joplin posted to her Twitter account stating that out of the 111 Lorne Park members who voted, 58 voted in favor of termination and 53 not in favor.
Speaking to CTV, Joplin said that when she heard how the vote went, she “had a cry but almost immediately started thinking about what comes next.”
Pastor Justin Becomes Pastor June
Joplin did not tell the congregation before the sermon on June 14th what she was planning to announce. Joplin said she was “anxious” and “nervous” that day in a way she hadn’t been prior to preaching.