The kids may be all right after all.
In response to the United Methodist Church formally hardening its anti-gay stance, the entire 8-student confirmation class at First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska announced that they will not become members of the congregation right now.
The 13- and 14-year-old students announced their decision in the most public of ways: right in front of the other church members, where they read a letter they had written together.
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
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.
To the church’s credit, the audience members gave them a warm reception:
The eight teens received a standing ovation. 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.
This is such an encouraging thing to see in an era where it seems like prejudice is winning.
As the kids noted, they may well join their church as members if it rejects what the parent organization will require everyone to accept by January of 2020 — even if that means disaffiliating with the UMC altogether. But even with that in mind, there are other Christian denominations that are affirming of the LGBTQ community. It’s surprising, in a way, that the UMC has chosen to go in the opposite direction, though that is attributed to the desires of UMC affiliates in other parts of the world more than those in the U.S.
But who knows — in these kids’ lifetimes, maybe the UMC will change its ways. If that happens, we can thank kids like these — the lifeblood of any church — who decide to leave because they can’t support religious bigotry. That doesn’t happen overnight. If history tells us anything, change tends to be a slow process.