As the United Methodist Church doubles down on anti-LGBTQ+ policies, younger congregants are taking a stand.
A confirmation class of more than half a dozen junior high school students refused to join the First United Methodist Church of Omaha, Nebraska, on Sunday, citing the greater UMC’s bans on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ clergy.
“While we love our congregation, we believe that the United Methodist Church’s policies on LGBTQ+ clergy and same-sex marriage are immoral,” says a representative for the 8 confirmands in a video circulating on Twitter. “Depending on how this church responds to the General Conference action, we will decide at a later time whether or not we want to become officially confirmed. But until then, we will continue to stand up against the unjust actions that the denomination is taking”
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
In a 438-384 vote in February, international UMC delegates voted to confirm what is called the Traditional Plan, which would prevent LGBTQ+ congregants from becoming clergy and prohibit same-sex marriage in the church. Despite opposition from many American members of the church — which boasts more than 12 million members worldwide — the UMC’s judicial council upheld those policies in a ruling Friday, ABC News reports, allowing the Traditional Plan to take effect as soon as next year.
“We are not standing just for ourselves,” the confirmand continues. “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.”
Candice Nielsen, FUMC Omaha’s Director of Membership and Communication, confirmed the events captured in the video, telling Out that the congregation is “in full support” of the confirmation class’ decision.
“They’ve spent weeks drafting that statement, and they all met individually with the lead pastor to discuss what their decision would mean to them and to the church,” says Nielsen, who notes that the decision was unanimous. “They had complete control in making their decision, and we support them in making their decision.”
An earlier version of this article misstated the number of confirmands in the 2019 confirmation class. We regret the error.