A small but noisy group of teenagers in Nebraska took issue over the weekend with the position of the United Methodist Church (UMC), whose members earlier this year affirmed the biblical definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The group of eight kids — aged between 13 and 14 — refused to take part in the annual confirmation ceremony at First United Methodist Church in Omaha, a ritual that affirms participants’ Christian faith and standing in the UMC.
Why are the kids refusing to participate? In a letter read aloud during the ceremony on Sunday, one of the teens explained she and her fellow protesters believe the UMC’s position in support of the biblical definition of marriage is “immoral.”
“We are concerned that if we join at this time, we will be sending a message that we approve of this decision,” she stated.
The teenager continued (emphasis mine):
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.
It should be noted the kids protested the official UMC position on marriage with the full support of their pastor, Rev. Kent Little, according to the Religion News Service.
“Myself and our associate pastor are in full support of their decision,” he said. “We’re proud of them. It’s not an easy thing to do, to resist.”
The UMC’s top court last week upheld the position, known as the Traditional Plan, which was passed in February.
Approved by delegates to a special session of the UMC’s general conference, the Traditional Plan reinforces the denomination’s Book of Discipline, barring LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage.
The rulebook states “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and stipulates “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot be ordained, appointed to serve in any capacity or married in the church.
A “self-avowed practicing homosexual” is defined by the UMC as anyone “living in a same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union or is a person who publicly states she or he is a practicing homosexual.”
The issue will likely come up again next year, when the UMC’s general conference reconvenes in Minneapolis.