A United Methodist Church court has convicted one of their pastors of being lesbian and determined that she should be stripped of her credentials as an ordained minister. United Methodist News Service has the story:
PUGHTOWN, Pa. — The trial court that returned a guilty verdict against the Rev. Irene Elizabeth “Beth” Stroud has decided by a close vote that her ministerial credentials should be withdrawn.
The trial court reconvened at 5:05 p.m. The Rev. Nicolas Comacho, pastor of Central/Park United Methodist Church in Reading, Pa., served as spokesperson for the court and read the verdict.
By a 7-6 vote, the trial court decided that the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference should withdraw Stroud’s ministerial credentials.
Bishop Joseph Yeakel, presiding officer, advised Stroud that she has the right to appeal the decision within 30 days. He closed the trial with a prayer.
Stroud supporters in the hall held hands and sang, “We are gay and straight together, singing, singing for our lives. We are gentle, angry people, singing, singing for our lives.”
This is another sad moment in the life of the Christian Church. Rev. Stroud has a web site where you can learn more about her story.
There is some irony that the same week that CBS and NBC banned a United Church of Christ ad from airing because it declares gays and lesbians are acceptable that the United Methodist Church has defrocked a homosexual pastor for the first time in 17 years.
I have a great deal of love for the United Methodist Church and the local congregations that really live by the slogan “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” It is sad that those doors are increasingly labeled “For Straights Only.”
Conservatives opposed to the UCC commercial are claiming that gays and lesbians are welcome in all churches. This proves that statement is inaccurate.
Gays and lesbians are excluded from the life of the church and far too many Christians are proud of that exclusion. The Kansas City Star had this quote today about the UCC spot from one leader of the Religious Right (and Bush White House adviser):
“It's silly,” said Gary Bauer, president of the conservative group American Values.
“If they're saying it's inappropriate to speak out about the sin of homosexuality, I'd urge them to go back to the owner's manual, which is the Bible … They're becoming so anxious to mirror the culture that there's nothing special someone gets out of going to the church.”
Click here for my take on what is actually written in the Bible about homosexuality.
Bauer wasn’t the only Republican party activist / Religious Right leader who spoke out on the UCC ad today. One of their most prominent leaders was happy the spot had been banned, according to Reuters:
Reverend Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, called the ads "masterful propaganda" that should not be aired.
"We are all sinners, but we cannot remain in our sin and just bless a lifestyle by saying we accept it when the scriptures clearly condemn it (homosexuality) as sin," said Mohler.
The United Church of Christ is far from perfect, but thank God there is at least one Christian denomination where people strive to make sure everyone is truly welcome.