A group of teenagers is refusing to take part in a United Methodist Church (UMC) confirmation ritual, because of the denomination’s attitude towards LGBT+ Christians.
Eight teens from Nebraska stood up during a Confirmation Sunday service on April 28 and announced they were not going to join the UMC because its policies towards LGBT+ members are “immoral.”
The group, from Omaha’s First United Methodist Church, had spent one year preparing for confirmation, which is a type of ritual where young members reaffirm their Christian faith by taking a vow of membership.
But when the service arrived, they read out their letter of protest, as first reported by the Religion News Service.
“We are disappointed about the direction the United Methodist denomination is heading,” the letter, which was published on First United Methodist’s Facebook page, said.
“We are not standing just for ourselves, we are standing for every single member of the LGBTQ+ community who is hurting right now,” the teens wrote, “because we were raised in this church, we believe that if we all stand together as a whole, we can make a difference.”
Teens protest a decision made by United Methodist Church General Conference
The letter outlined their decision to refuse confirmation and cited that a decision made during the UMC’s General Conference in February was to blame.
At the event, about 53 percent of delegates to the conference voted in favour of what members call the “Traditional Plan,” which reinforces church doctrine prohibiting same-sex marriage and the ordination of queer clergy. The plan also strengthens penalties for clergy who perform same-sex weddings, according to RNS.
Methodists voted 449 to 374 to defeat an inclusive “One Church” proposal that would have allowed local congregations to decide on whether to allow same-sex weddings and LGBT+ clergy themselves. The Traditional Plan was backed by a vote of 438 to 384.
The result prompted tears and fury from queer activists at the conference, according to The Guardian.
At the time, former Methodist pastor Rebecca Wilson said that she was feeling “devastation,” adding that, “as someone who left because I’m gay, I’m waiting for the church I love to stop bringing more hate.”
The Human Rights Campaign responded to the votes by emphasising that pro-LGBT+ campaigners would continue fighting for inclusion in the church, which has around 12.6 million members worldwide
Until First United Methodist determines its future, the teens promised to continue to stand up against the broader denomination’s “unjust actions.”