OMAHA — A Methodist confirmation class in Omaha is refusing to join the denomination over its stance on LGBTQ issues.
The Religion News Service reported that eight teenagers, aged 13 and 14, told the congregation on this past Sunday that they do not want to become members at this time. They called the United Methodist Church’s bans on same-sex weddings and LGBTQ clergy immoral and unjust.
“We are concerned that if we join at this time, we will be sending a message that we approve of this decision,” the confirmation class wrote in a letter read to the congregation. “We want to be clear that, while we love our congregation, we believe the United Methodist policies on LGBTQ+ clergy and same-sex marriage are immoral.”
RNS reported that the congregation gave the teens a standing ovation.
Other UMC congregations across the country have protested the bans that were voted on in February and upheld last week by a judicial panel. Often it has meant individual churches withholding contributions to the national organization or hanging Pride flags in their buildings. In Rockford, UMC clergy held a protest on a street corner.
But, the news service reported, this was the first time there was a refusal to join the church after confirmation. RNS described confirmation as formal rite of passage that includes education in the denomination. After a year of education, the students, usually teens, decide if they want to join the church as members. And this time, they didn’t.
Tim Fickenscher, a retired junior high school teacher who taught the confirmation class, told the service that the idea was all from the teens.
“It was a very thoughtful, well-discussed decision,” Fickenscher told RNS. “We tried to give the kids as much latitude in decision-making as we could.”