Lincoln faith organization faces criticism after enforcing its ministry standards

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — A Lincoln faith-based nonprofit is losing staff and volunteers after enforcing its longstanding guidelines.

City Impact’s former staff say they resigned over the enforcement of the nonprofit’s ministry standards. 

The standards say, in part, “Any sexual relationship beyond sex in a heterosexual marriage constitutes sexual immorality.”

“I just decided it wasn’t a good fit for me to be there anymore,” said former City Impact youth director Seth Roepke. “I could no longer justify standing by those actions that would ultimately cause me to let people who are volunteering and leading within the community go.”

City Impact’s new executive director said the standards are biblically oriented and had been enforced for 25 years.

“We are just bringing clarity to what those standards mean to our leadership,” Executive Director Kristy Goodwin said.  

Tai’an Williams is a member of Lincoln’s LGBTQ community, and she had participated in City Impact’s programming since she was in the fourth grade.

She volunteered this summer before applying for a paid internship. Tai’an says a staff member told her she could not participate anymore.

“If you were supporting or were in a same-sex relationship marriage, or anything of that sort, that’s not what they are welcoming anymore,” she said. 

City Impact says that even though they enforce these standards for their leadership, everyone in the community is welcome to enjoy their services. 

“We know that with ministry standards and being a faith-based organization with Christian principles, then everyone might not agree to that and we understand that, we respect that,” Goodwin said. “We are still an organization that welcomes everyone.” 

OutNebraska, an organization advocating for LGBTQ youth, says organizations serving young people should have role models of all types of backgrounds that work together for the greater good. 

“Every youth serving organization has to come to understand that they are serving young people who are members of the LGBTQ + community,” OutNebraska Executive Director Abbi Swatsworth said.

Over the last week, City Impact has notified families of program cancellations, like its reading program. Goodwin said these programs are on hold as City Impact expands and looks for more volunteers.

Goodwin would not comment on whether the volunteer shortages were related to the recent resignations.

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