UMC Fallout: Colleges, Confirmands Not Happy With Traditional Plan

Confirmands Receive Support for Taking a Stand

The Rev. Kent Little, pastor at Omaha’s First UMC, says he’s never had an entire confirmation class refuse to undergo the ritual. He suspected something was brewing for about a month, he says, but didn’t know the decision would be unanimous.

“In my opinion, it was a very faithful and mature decision,” Little says. “It’s not an easy thing to do when tradition is to confirm your faith at that point.” The pastor plans to hold small-group meetings and then a congregation-wide session to gauge opinions about the subject. After that, the church will decide whether to stay in the UMC and work for change, join another denomination, or become independent. Ironically, because the confirmands refused to become church members, they won’t have an official vote, but Little promises they’ll still have a voice.

Laura Young, a UMC deaconess who’s on staff at Reconciling Ministries, credits the Omaha teens with being “engaged, informed and making hard choices.” She says, “They said yes to a calling,” adding that “adults could learn from them.”

Jeffrey “J.J.” Warren, a gay Methodist man who addressed the General Conference in February, also is offering “full support and love” for the confirmands. Warren, an aspiring pastor, says, “What their actions tell the world is that we young people are not only the church of tomorrow; we are the church of today. And we don’t like the way things are—and we will not be complacent with injustice.”

Judicial Council Upholds Traditional Plan Vote

In related news, the UMC’s Judicial Council has ruled it will uphold the vote for the Traditional Plan even though parts of the plan violate the denomination’s constitution. “The constitutional petitions are not dependent on the unconstitutional petitions and can survive without the unconstitutional petitions,” the council states.

The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, a main author of the Traditional Plan, says the council’s “clear ruling should help moderates and progressives realize that the decision of General Conference is not going to be changed in the near future.”

At the General Conference, about 53 percent of delegates voted for the Traditional Plan over the less-restrictive One Church Plan. Since then, some progressive UMC members have expressed concerns about voting irregularities. The Traditional Plan is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020.

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Stephanie Martin
Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 26 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.