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Church holds beautiful naming ceremony for trans person reflecting ‘the grace and openness of God’

Lily Wakefield July 19, 2021
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Elin Stillingen Norway church name ceremony trans

Elin Stillingen was honoured in the first church name changing ceremony in Norway. (Facebook/ Elin Stillingen)

A church in Norway held a beautiful naming ceremony for a trans person, in what is thought to be the first ceremony of its kind in the country.

Elin Stillingen, 49, came out as transgender nine years ago, and legally changed her gender and name last year.

But as a Christian, she felt it was important to mark the important change in her life in a church.

On Saturday (17 July), Stillingen was honoured in an incredible naming ceremony at the medieval Hoff church in Oslo, Norway.

She told AP News: “I’m a member of the Norwegian church, and I’m also about to come ‘out of the closet’ as a Christian, so this ceremony is important to me.”

Pastor Stein Ovesen, who is also chair of the LGBT+ rights charity Stensveens Venner, led the ceremony.

Oveson told Norwegian news channel TV2: “I know that so many are grateful that this event has come true, because this goes deep into the lives of people.

“On the conservative wing, you will find priests who are deeply concerned about what we do today.

“But for me this is an important act that expresses the grace and openness that God shows me.”

A special diploma was created by Stensveens Venner for the occasion, which was signed by both Stillingen and Ovesen, featuring butterflies “as a mark of a beautiful metamorphosis”.

Elin Stillingen said the church name changing ceremony in Norway “felt like coming home”

The day after the church ceremony, Elin Stillingen took to social media to share about her “favourite day”.

She wrote: “Every day since 15 May, 2020, has been better than the last, but this was my favourite day… It was beautiful, and real… I’m very proud to be the first and I actually know other trans people who want to do the same in their local church.”

She added: “It was like coming home, and Jesus was there.”

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