United Methodist clergywoman to face trial:
Aug. 2, 2004
By Linda Bloom
United Methodist News Service
A United Methodist clergywoman in Philadelphia faces a church trial as the result of an investigating committee decision.
The Rev. Irene Elizabeth (Beth) Stroud, 34, associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Germantown since 1999, talked about being a lesbian in an April 27, 2003, sermon to her congregation. She also said she and her partner "have lived in a covenant relationship for two and a half years."
Church law forbids "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" from being ordained or appointed as clergy to churches.
An investigating committee from the denomination's Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference met July 23 to review evidence on a complaint brought against Stroud. "The committee on investigation voted that reasonable grounds exist for a church trial as provided in the United Methodist Book of Discipline," according to a statement from the annual conference.
The committee's vote was 5-3.
Stroud told United Methodist News Service that the committee chairman "called me personally to share the results and was very pastoral and very caring."
A trial date will be set after Bishop Peter Weaver, who leads the denomination's Philadelphia area, has selected a retired bishop to preside over the trial."
I imagine, sadly, that this trial will go much differently than the Karen Damaan trial given the way decisions of judicial council at General Conference 2004. What will it take to open people's minds and hearts? A stream of painful trials of gifted and qualified clergy? Using up all of our time and resources in church trials until we have nothing and no one left to preach the gospel?