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Canadian Church Fires Pastor After Transgender Announcement

Lorne Park Baptist Church

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. 

The pastor spoke from Matthew 13—specifically focusing on the parable of the pearl of great price. She used this parable to say that Jesus told us the truth is costly. Then she went on to say that at a certain point not telling one’s truth becomes more of a burden than staying silent is. Her truth, she said, was that not only is she called to be a pastor, but also a woman:

Friends, with divine joy, of one finally getting her hands on a most precious pearl, I want you to hear me when I tell you that I’m not just supposed to be a pastor. I’m supposed to be a woman. Hi friends, hi family, my name is Junia, you can call me June. I’m a transgender woman and my pronouns are she and her.

She also explained that one of the reasons it took so long to come out to the congregation was that for a long time she thought her identity was sinful and that it would be too costly to speak the truth about herself. But eventually she came to the conclusion that “the only thing that costs us more than buying the treasure God creates for us to find is not buying it.” 

Addressing those who feel marginalized by the church, Joplin went on to say:

I am sorry for the times that you have been lied to about who you are in the eyes of God. I’m sorry for the times that you have been told that who you are is sinful or broken—whether it’s some raving fundamentalist in a suit and tie or his kinder, gentler counterpart in jeans and sneakers at the hip church that meets in the movie theater. Those words are not true. They are deceitful and evil and we have already lost too many siblings to that deadly theology.

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Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for churchleaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.