A Publicly Professed Sexually Active Lesbian UM Pastor May Have To Be Tried As A Professed Sexually Active Lesbian UM Pastor
Results from the July 23, 2004 Committee on Investigation hearingThe Committee on Investigation of The United Methodist Church’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference voted July 23 that there was enough evidence to send the case of Beth Stroud, FUMCOG’s associate pastor, to a church trial.
This is the most recent step in the church judicial process that has been unfolding for Beth since April 2003, when she preached a sermon in which she shared that she is a lesbian living in a covenant relationship with a partner. The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline states that “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” are not to be ordained ministers or appointed to serve churches. A church trial could result in Beth losing her ordination credentials.
“Five votes were needed to send the case to trial, and the vote was 5-3,” says The Rev. J. Dennis Williams, Beth’s clergy counsel.
Beth describes the hearing as “a very respectful conversation among colleagues who sincerely care about one another and the church.”
“I love The United Methodist Church,” says Beth. “This is where I came to know the love of God as a young child, and where God is calling me to serve. I also know that God accepts me and loves me just as I am, and has given me the gift of a wonderful partner to share my life. As a Christian and a minister, it’s my responsibility to tell the truth about God’s love.”
“We love and respect Beth,” says Senior Pastor Fred Day. “She is an excellent pastor, deeply appreciated for her ministry. She is a courageous leader, willing to have her private life made so public. Our congregation is behind her. We have established a legal defense fund to support her throughout this journey of seeking justice. We are an open and diverse congregation who believe in equality for all God’s people. We are a Reconciling Congregation, which means we are part of a movement of United Methodist churches who are supportive and vocal about the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in ordination as well as all ministries of the church.”
The trial date has not been set.
More information about Beth’s church, First United Methodist Church of Germantown, is available at www.fumcog.org.
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