Thursday, December 02, 2004

United Methodist court revokes Beth Stroud's credentials

United Methodist court revokes Beth Stroud's credentials:

Dec. 2, 2004

By Linda Green and Linda Bloom

PUGHTOWN, Pa (UMNS) A United Methodist lesbian clergywoman has been stripped of her ministerial credentials by a church trial court.

The Rev. Irene Elizabeth 'Beth' Stroud was found guilty Dec. 2 of engaging in "practices that are incompatible with Christian teachings." After that 12-1 decision, the trial court, or jury, entered a penalty phase and voted 7-6 to strip Stroud of her ministerial credentials, effective immediately.

Stroud, 34, is not able to perform the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion but plans to remain on staff at First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia, where she had been associate pastor since 1999.

She has the right to appeal the court's decisions in 30 days to the denomination's Northeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Appeal.

At the trial's conclusion, Stroud acknowledged in a press conference the divisive nature of the issue of homosexuality, which was visible during the proceedings. Looking at the trial court, she said, "in every face that I saw, I saw pain, and in every face I saw, I saw compassion."

I guess the verdict was expected, though I had hope that Beth Stroud would not be stripped of her credentials. Not much else to say about this, I guess, that hasn't been said elsewhere, I'm sure. One of the things that bothers me most: It is not against UM law to be a celibate gay pastor, just a practicing gay pastor. Doesn't it seem, then, that people are upset by the idea of gay sexual relationships? To me, that a pastor can be gay if he/she is celibate implies an understanding that being gay/lesbian is in itself not wrong, or at least, not a choice. It is, after all the "practice of homosexuality" that is forbidden by UM church law. But by our law, 'practice' equals 'sexual acts'. And by that equation, we've pigeon-holed God's gift of sexuality into just a tiny component that's only about who we sleep with. What a shameful abuse of God's gift!

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