Lorne Park Baptist Church’s Response to Joplin’s Transition
CTV received a statement from Lorne Park Baptist Church, which indicated they believe it God’s will for Joplin to move on from their church:
The Church has journeyed for the past month through a process of attempting to discern God’s will resulting from June’s announcement of June 14, 2020 that she is a transgender woman…After a month of prayerful discernment and discussions between June and the congregation, it was determined, for theological reasons, that it is not in God’s will that June remain as our pastor. We wish June God’s grace and peace as she departs from us.
Again speaking to CTV, Joplin said “folks are kind of all over the place” in their response to her announcement. However, she hasn’t preached since that fateful sermon. Joplin said she feels disconnected from the church and missing the fellowship she once enjoyed. There are people, she says, she’s afraid “I’ll never hear from again.” She went on to say, “I wish some of those people were at least more eager to say ‘Hey, let’s talk about this, even if I didn’t vote the way you wanted to.’”
Some in the church have supported Joplin and her decision to transition. A lot of people from the broader community and world, Joplin says on her Twitter account, have been very supportive.
Both my kids’ old hockey coaches have reached out w/messages of support & affirmation.
I always figured the rink would be an awkward place to return after having been perceived as a hockey dad for 5 seasons. I’m not so anxious anymore. I’m actually looking forward to returning.
— Junia R. Joplin (@jrjoplin) July 15, 2020
Pastor Joplin’s Background
Joplin says she decided at age 11 that she wanted to preach; she also started thinking she was female around this time. Joplin has been serving as a pastor for several years now. She lived in Richmond, Virginia for 12 years, went to seminary there, and also had her first pastorate in that city.
As far as the decision to be known as Junia, Joplin explained the idea came from Scripture. In Romans, the Apostle Junia is mentioned. Joplin ascribes to the belief that the name Junia has been misinterpreted for centuries by Bible translators who saw the name in the Greek text “and thought there couldn’t possibly have been a female apostle, and so they made up a name that really didn’t exist. They put an ‘s’ on the end of it—Junias.” Joplin says she identifies with Junia because she “is a Christian leader who has had to assert her womanhood, her femininity across the ages.”
Despite the sadness she feels over being fired by her congregation, Joplin still has great appreciation for the Baptist church and would like to continue working in congregational ministry if possible.
I was hired based on the outcome of a congregational vote in 2014. I was fired on the same basis.
I know many are disheartened by that outcome. But the process – whereby the individual members of a congregation have a say in the life/ministry of their church – is one I treasure.
— Junia R. Joplin (@jrjoplin) July 23, 2020
In the meantime, she has received several invitations to be a guest preacher for a handful of churches in the U.S., as well as an invitation from a rabbi in St. Louis.
Joplin is scheduled to preach via live stream for St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday, July 26th. It will be the first sermon she preaches in her newfound identity.