ST. LOUIS – Churches throughout Vermont, the country, and the world were stunned yesterday when a special conference of the international United Methodist Church voted to limit church participation for anyone over the age of 33. The denomination currently includes many pastors and lay leaders of advanced age, and protests began almost immediately after the younger generation took full control of the religious organization.
Claiming “biblical truth” on the basis that “no one ought to live or engage in ministry longer than Christ,” the resolution was passed with 56% in favor of the new rule. Debate had been heated, as many older pastors pointed to Saint Peter and Saint Paul, each of whom practiced ministry into their sixties, leading one delegate to shout “Are we Paulians? Are we Peterenarians?! NO! We are Christians!”
Any United Methodist churches who still feel that people aged 34 and up are still suitable for ministry, despite their inflexible minds and spirits, have been invited to leave the denomination and form their own church. This response was met with anger, as some argued that Jesus always led towards inclusion and acceptance, despite what the Bible might say literally about his age.
“I understand where they’re coming from,” said youth pastor Jen Z. from Faith United Methodist Church in South Burlington. “They’re reading the Bible one way, and we’re reading it another way. Unfortunately there’s only room for one interpretation, so we voted and they’re out. I wish them well, but I don’t know how they’re going to survive. I mean, can you imagine going to church and just seeing old people sitting in the pews? That’s not a business model that’s going to last long.”
“This is absurd,” said Rev. Farrah C. of Milwaukee during the debate. “We can’t do anything about our age! If anything, our experience gives us a better perspective on faith! Why would you vote to exclude people for something they can’t do anything about?!” She was booed off the podium by visiting members of the Westboro Baptist Church, holding signs reading “God Hates Geezers.”
Challenges have already been issued as to the plan’s constitutionality, and the battle is far from over as the lawyers begin to examine the details, but for now it looks as though the church is at last becoming more like Christ, at least in age.