In response to the United Methodist Church strengthening its ban on openly gay clergy and same-sex marriages across the U.S., a group of eight teenagers, aged 13 and 14, who make up this year’s confirmation class at a historic United Methodist church in the Midwest have taken the unprecedented step of refusing to join the church.
The teens stood before the congregation at First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Neb., on Confirmation Sunday (April 28) and read a letter saying they do not want to become members at this time.
The teens said they took their stand on principle because they believed the church’s vote to uphold and strengthen its anti-LGBTQ stances to be “immoral” and “unjust.”
Standing before the congregation, the teens read aloud from a letter they had written together:
We have spent the year learning about our faith and clarifying our beliefs. Most of us started the confirmation year assuming that we would join the church at the end, But with the action of the general conference in February, we are disappointed about the direction the United Methodist denomination is heading. We are concerned that if we join at this time, we will be sending a message that we approve of this decision.
We want to be clear that, while we love our congregation, we believe that the United Methodist policies on LGBTQ+ clergy and same-sex marriage are immoral. Depending on how this church responds to the general conference action, we will decide at a later time whether or not to become officially confirmed. But until then, we will continue to stand up against the unjust actions that the denomination is taking. We are not standing just for ourselves, we are standing for every single member of the LGBTQ+ community who is hurting right now, Because we were raised in this church, we believe that if we all stand together as a whole, we can make a difference.
In case you needed a reason to believe that this generation will save us all, here it is. The entire confirmation class at First United Methodist Omaha decided not to join at this time in protest of the UMC’s anti lgbtq+ policies. 🌈❤️ pic.twitter.com/mDjwMTu9ZJ
— Sheri Shuler (@SheriShuler) April 28, 2019
The teens received a standing ovation from the audience members.
Religion News notes:
As is customary following confirmation, the church treated the youth to dinner: lasagna and salad and a gift of journals for each teen.
Since the February vote at a special session of the General Conference in St. Louis, some Methodist churches across the United States have protested through newspaper ads. Others rallied in front of their church administrative offices. Still others voted to withhold their annual dues, called apportionments.