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A Service of Re-Naming and Reaffirmation of Baptism

Jess Cook

Jess Cook is the organizing pastor for Every Table, a new worshiping community in Richmond, Virginia, and was the first openly trans / non-binary person ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament in the PC(USA). 

This liturgy is for people who wish to change their name to align with their gender identity and wish to make a public proclamation and receive support from a community. Functioning also as a reaffirmation of baptism, it should take place by the baptismal font with water. The presider may wish to use oil to anoint the head of the candidate.


A designated person presents the candidate to the community present. 

At this time, would N please join me by the baptismal font?

[to the congregation]

N is presented to the community to reaffirm their baptism and to celebrate their new name in Christ within this faith community. 

Presider [to congregation]

In the Presbyterian Church, many of us were baptized as infants. We baptize infants as a visible sign that God’s grace is extended to us even when we do not have the ability to ask for it. God’s grace covers us through every passage of our lives. When we baptize people into the community, we promise to nurture and teach them in the faith, to celebrate their uniqueness as a part of the collective body of Christ, of which we are all a part.

Today we remember our own baptism and reaffirm with N their baptism as they publicly claim their new name.

[to candidate]

N, as your church family, we rejoice with you in this decision to take the next step in living into the person God has created you to be.

Affirmation of Faith / Claiming New Name

Presider [to candidate]

N, what is your full name?
My name is [candidate states their new name].

Trusting in the grace, mercy, and abundance of God, do you recognize the goodness inherent in your very being, and that God loves you even when you do not have the capacity to ask for it? I do.

Do you believe there are things in this world that can prevent you from seeing yourself and others as beloved children of God? I do.

Do you affirm the way modeled by Jesus, who ate with the outcast, who saw those deemed invisible, who touched those deemed impure, and whose faithfulness, even unto death, models a way to understand our own salvation? I do.

Will you do what you can to follow the way set forth by Jesus, to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, to love yourself, and to love your neighbor? I will, with God’s help.

Will you let yourself be cared for and nurtured by this community, who will certainly mess up from time to time, but who will do their best to show up for you? I will.

Affirmations from the Community

Presider [to congregation] 

Will you love and nurture N, affirming the inherent goodness in their being, as celebrated and affirmed in their baptism? We will.

Will you create spaces for N to grow into the fullness of who they were created to be? We will.

Will you use N’s claimed name and pronouns? We will.

Will you do what you can to learn about the systems of oppression directly impacting N as they claim the fullness of who they were created to be, and seek to eradicate those systems as they manifest in this world? We will.


Good and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of this life and for the goodness of these bodies. We thank you for the journeys you lead us on. Some seem very direct while others are filled with twists and turns. Yet all have led us here, and we trust that all our roads, no matter how circuitous, lead us to a fuller understanding of who we are as your beloved children. 

We thank you for the gift of names and for the power of a name. We thank you for the certainty that you have called each of us by name, even if it isn’t the name we were given at birth. 

We thank you for our ancestors in the faith whose lives were so transformed they were given a new name. Like Sarah, Abraham, Israel, Peter, and Paul, we thank you for marking N with this new name and for the opportunity to celebrate with them today.

We thank you also for their old name (unless explicitly named by the person being celebrated, do not use their old name here, but simply say “old name”), which we release here with gratitude and grace. May we know that all things have been working in good and perfect timing, and that so too has this name served N well, even as they have now outgrown it. 

We thank you for those who gave N their old name and ask that the Holy Spirt make room in all our hearts to see N’s full journey as one toward wholeness. May N’s journey be an invitation for all of us to see the holiness within ourselves and the myriad ways your steady beckoning voice is always calling us toward freedom.

We thank you for Jesus, who showed us how to love. May we trust him enough to embody that love today and carry it into the world. Amen.

Laying on of Hands / Anointing

The candidate may kneel. If it is so desired, people from the congregation can come forward and lay their hands on the candidate’s head. 

N, like so many of our ancestors, you have been called to live into a name different than the one you were given at birth. Like those prophets and parents in the faith, your journey has brought with it many unexpected twists and turns, yet you have listened to the voice of love and life that has called you and held you and led you here. We are grateful to be part of the journey with you and we rejoice with you today.

The presider may make the sign of the cross on the forehead of the candidate, saying to them:

N, remember your baptism and be grateful.

Always know that you are a beloved child of God, and of this community.
All: Thanks be to God!