- A Canadian Baptist pastor thought she was sharing an inspiring word when she delivered her congregation a Zoom sermon in which she came out as transgender.
Instead, her congregation voted to fire her a month later.
Junia Joplin, pastor of Lorne Park Baptist Church in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada had centered her sermon around the idea of truth-telling and thought her personal example a perfect way to illustrate her point.
But her congregants disagreed, and voted her out by a narrow five-congregant margin.
Yesterday the members of @lorneparkbc voted to fire me. The vote went 58-53 in favour of termination…
— Junia R. Joplin (@jrjoplin) July 21, 2020
Speaking to Canada’s CTV News, Joplin said she was saddened but not surprised by the outcome.
“I believed that the vote would be close. I wasn’t sure how it was going to come out, I was nervous that that might be the result.”
She added that she sensed she may have permanently lost relationships with some parishioners.
“There are people that I love a lot, who haven’t come along with me on this journey, who I’m afraid I’ll actually never hear from again. That is kind of heartbreaking.”
Joplin delivered the sermon in June, which is recognized as LGBTQ Pride Month in countries all over the world, including Canada.
In the sermon, Joplin directly addressed the risk she was taking by coming out to her congregation, but cited a Bible verse, 1 John 4:18, that speaks of the power of love to triumph over fear.
“I realize, of course, that I might be taking an enormous risk here… It’s scary, but I read some place that ‘love casts out fear’.”
Joplin went on in her sermon to speaking directly to the LGBTQ community, especially those who had been rejected by Christians.
“I see you. You’re not alone… I want you to hear me say that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
“…I am sorry for the times that you have been lied to about who you are in the eyes of God.”
And she addressed the trans community directly as well.
“I believe in a God who calls you a beloved daughter, even when your parents insist that you’ll always be their son.”
But despite the rejection of her congregation, Joplin told CTV News that she is focusing on moving forward.
“I had a cry but I tried to almost immediately start thinking about what comes next.”
Joplin also spoke of the outpouring of love she has received in the wake of her firing. And on Twitter, there was no shortage of that to go around.
I'm sorry that this was the outcome; I know that there will be a church overjoyed to have your voice. Sending lots of love.
— Kat (@trans_parenting) July 21, 2020
I’ve been fired from a church and I know how painful it is. Know you are loved and that there are so many people praying and rooting for you.
— Matthew Johnson (@revmattjohnson) July 21, 2020
Thank you for being such a wonderful example of keeping hope that God is always in control.
I'm disappointed in the church's decision, but eager to see how God uses you to spread love and tolerance through the Church as a whole.
— Erin, the quarantine mechanic 🏳️🌈 (@dieversteckt) July 21, 2020
You are precious, beloved, and amazing June. Much support and well-wishes. I am glad your next calling will receive the full June.
I believe that the people you touch as you continue to move through this world can feel the Spirit move them to kindness and love too. Good luck!
— Serena Jamison (@SerenaNoelle_) July 21, 2020
"I believe in a God who knows your name even if that name hasn't been chosen yet." Gorgeous theology from @jrjoplin
— Rabbi Emily Cohen (@ThatRabbiCohen) July 24, 2020
Very disappointing … just a few weeks after she came out to her congregation as a transgender woman @jrjoplin was fired after 6 years of service to her congregation. Junia we love and support you and wish you all the best on your new journey, we know you will do great things! https://t.co/y7mw1jhPtX
— Affirm United Canada (@affirmunited) July 22, 2020
My friend @jrjoplin is one of the most courageous and inspiring leaders in our community. As her story is being shared in other parts of the world, I encourage all of us to stand up and fight for #inclusion. #cdnpoli 🇨🇦 @UN_Women @HeForShe @IPUparliament https://t.co/Etcu1z3bNr
— Sven Spengemann (@SvenTrueNorth) July 25, 2020
— Matthew Johnson (@revmattjohnson) July 23, 2020
Well, hopefully she contributes to the reform of Christianity, and the destruction of conservative, Christian fundamentalism, by starting her own LGBT+ affirming church, and hopefully take half of the congregation with her.
— MzMiaRose (@MzMiaRose) July 26, 2020
You are meant for more important work then. That is all. Onward!
— I AM Smiling (@MissP186) July 22, 2020
In a follow-up tweet to the announcement of her termination, Joplin said she was barely able to sleep.
But only because she was excited about what might be next for her in her life.
I only slept about 90 minutes last night – not for dread or anxiety, but out of eager anticipation over entering the next chapter of my life. I don't know where I'll land next, but I know I'll land as my authentic self…
— Junia R. Joplin (@jrjoplin) July 21, 2020
Her next church will be lucky to have her.