A decision defrocking Beth Stroud from her position as a United Methodist Church clergy person has been reversed. Stroud had been convicted by a church court of being lesbian. The official United Methodist position – widely opposed by many United Methodists – is that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christianity.” United Methodist New Service reports:
BALTIMORE (UMNS)—Irene Elizabeth "Beth" Stroud, who was found guilty of violating United Methodist church law and had her clergy credentials withdrawn last December, won her appeal in a decision announced April 29.
Stroud had appealed the clergy court’s Dec. 2 decision to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Appeals, which met at a hotel near the Baltimore-Washington International Airport April 28-29.
The clergy court had found her guilty of violating denomination law, which forbids the ordination and appointment of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals." Stroud had disclosed that she was living in a committed relationship with another woman.
The appeals committee upheld part of the trial court’s finding but overturned the verdict based on legal error. The committee’s 8-1 vote means Stroud is automatically reinstated as a pastor.
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The issue of whether or not United Methodists will ever allow gays and lesbians to serve openly as clergy is not resolved by this church decision. Outside groups funded by political conservatives – such as the Republican-party aligned Institute on Religion and Democracy – will continue to spend enormous amounts of money undermining efforts to allow the full participation of gays and lesbians in the life of the United Methodist Church. But this church court decision is a good, hopeful, and faithful response to God’s call that Christians be open and affirming.
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