On February 10th youth and young people from 3 area UM churches gathered to study, discuss, and respond to the upcoming vote at General Conference. Below is their thoughtful response which has been shared with our Michigan Conference delegates. It is our hope that their words will inspire you to engage in this complicated time of growth for the UMC. If you have comments or questions we encourage you to forward them to the Youth Ministry leadership at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We represent the youth of Asbury, Mulliken, and University United Methodist Churches. We are straight, queer, and transgender youth of the United Methodist Church. We are writing to voice our opinions and concerns regarding the legislation being considered for General Conference 2019.
We think it is important to communicate with you our thoughts, because we recognize that whatever the outcome it will impact all members of the United Methodist Church. The future of the UMC is our inheritance, and that of those who follow us. We hope that you will contemplate these words as you represent us during those 4 days.
It should come as no surprise that we do not support the Traditionalist Plan. It is clearly unwelcoming to people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community which is part of the human race, and God’s beloved creation. Furthermore, as young people who may be questioning our sexual and gender orientation, this plan is terrifying because we don’t know if we will be accepted in our own churches. As the United Methodist Church, we should be inviting and welcoming. The Traditionalist Plan is neither of those, therefore it should not be enacted.
Considering the Connectional Church Plan, we like the concept of being able to worship with like-minded people and the safe space it may provide, but worry about a lack of diversity of thought. We feel as a church that there should be room for opposing and healthy dialogues. There is concern that deeply divided leadership would struggle to oversee shared global entities, such as UMCOR. The Connectional Church Plan as it is currently written appears to be the most complicated format, with the least structure in place to enact the proposed changes. Overall we worry that dividing into three churches closes doors to the world, rather than opening them.
In regards to the One Church Plan, we prefer it to the other 2 proposed pieces of legislation, however we identify more concerns than benefits. We are worried that this plan is complicated and does not offer a clear path forward for local churches to change under this new legislation. Most alarming to us though, is the fact that not only does this plan allow for continued discrimination of LGBTQ+ people, but also offers specific protections for those who want to continue to discriminate against LGBTQ+ community members.
The reason we prefer this plan is simply because it is a step in a better direction. It is encouraging that under the One Church Plan, the current language surrounding LGBTQ+ people would be removed, and that it opens possibilities for local churches and conferences to be in full inclusion with Queer clergy and church members. However, we think there’s a long way to go before we are a church that represents the love of Christ.
We can recognize that all of the proposed legislation is merely a settlement and not a solution. We will be praying for you as you travel to St. Louis to represent the Michigan Conference. We would be eager to discuss with you your experiences when you have returned.
University UMC Youth