Hello there -- Theo, CR's administrative assistant, here! Beth Stroud was an associate pastor at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown located in Philadelphia PA. She had her ministerial credentials revoked on Thursday, December 2, 2004, as a result of being convicted of violating the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline regarding her choice to live in an active sexual relationship with another woman.
Many statements have been issued by groups that have been pushing the sodomite/lesbian agenda for years. Part of that agenda involves forced acceptance in all churches by all persons of the sodomite/lesbian lifestyle -- that "lifestyle" includes the goal of legal "marriage" in eyes of church and state, the adoption of children and formation of "families," full participation in the life of the church, including serving as ordained clergy, and receiving full benefits as would heterosexual married couples at all places of employment and/or in government service. In other words, all of society is expected to accept sodomy and lesbianism without even a hint of objection or question -- if not, then come all the negative labels and application of the same toward those who raise any objection or challenge -- you know, "unchristian," "unloving," "mean-spirited," "homophobic," "divisive," "prejudiced," "paranoid," "judgmental," "self-righteous," "legalistic," "Bible-thumpers," ect!
Also, there are links related to the Beth mess! NOTE: use return feature on browser to come back here.
The United Methodist News Service covered the trial and issued releases. Headlines can be checked at main UMC site at The United Methodist Church OR you can go directly to United Methodist News Service at UMNS.
A web site for Beth has been set up at Beth Stroud Information
Several documents are at: Beth Stroud Case
To go directly to a particular group's response, click on that ID link below:
Stroud 's Credentials Stripped
Statement by Peggy R. Gaylord, Affirmation
December 3, 2004
Over and over, we heard of Beth Stroud's exceptional ministry; no one contested this. But they stripped her of her hard-earned ministerial credentials. What else could we expect of a jury whose pool had excluded self-avowed, practicing conscientious objectors to The Book of Discipline?
Over and over, we heard that Beth Stroud is an exceptional person of integrity and that her ministry is extraordinary. And yet, they did not leave her credentials intact so that she could more easily transfer as clergy to another denomination if she now chose, in the face of clear rejection from The United Methodist Church, her family of origin. This is clearly a punitive attitude, not a loving and supportive one, not one of "open hearts, open minds, and open doors." The penalty is meant to continue to silence our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender laity and clergy. If she hadn't spoken the "unspeakable," she would still be a pastor in the UMC today.
And, while Beth Stroud is an exceptional pastor with extraordinary gifts, she is not, by far, the first nor the last. Many others of exceptional gifts and graces have been driven from the church either explicitly or implicitly-- self-selected United Methodist "good girls" and "good boys" who respond to the call and then quietly disappear without fussing when they realize their sexuality; those challenged and summarily dismissed at some point during their ordination process; clergy quietly transferred to another denomination if they will keep quiet; even those lost to suicide-- because how can one make sense of God's clear call to the United Methodist Church in the present United Methodist Church of rejection and religious and spiritual violence?
Ironically, many discovered their sexual orientation as they were walking closer to God in United Methodist "family gatherings," such as Sunday Schools, youth groups, Bible study, camps, retreats, and seminaries. Now they've been disowned. How dare the Church put rules and laws before the Holy Spirit?
Does no one remember Jesus' warning about the Pharisees? When will The United Methodist Church become the Church of Jesus Christ, the One who included ALL without exception, not the church of the 51% majority rule documented in The Book of Discipline every four years? The Discipline itself states that it is not to be considered either "sacrosanct" or "infallible."
Yes, as the prosecuting counsel stated, Beth Stroud will still have her call to ministry--but the Church has violated that call and has impeded how that call can be lived out. It is the United Methodist denomination's loss-- one more time. Raised, nurtured and mentored in the UMC, Beth is now cast out. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people will continue to be violated until the Church celebrates the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and realizes that the guidelines in the "standards" are not prerequisites to being filled with the Spirit. God will call Beth Stroud to new avenues of ministry, perhaps even calling her to appeal yesterday 's decision, as God has thus far clearly led her on her path to bring Light and expose how the Church is slamming the door on God's faithful people.
Until the UMC can live up to its avowed "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.", its media campaign should be loudly protested. The Church cannot boldly lie and continue to get away with it. We must be vigilant in bringing the Church to its own accountability and the accountability of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What would John Wesley say? What would Jesus, who was silent on homosexuality but abhorred religious injustices and spiritual abuse, do? The Holy Spirit calls us to love as Jesus loved and work to redeem what Jesus hated.
Rev. Peggy R. Gaylord, Co-Spokesperson
National Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns
Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns is an independent voice of LGBT people and their allies who affirm full participation of all persons in the church and society and who relentlessly pursue policies and processes to that end. Together we proclaim a Gospel of respect, love, justice, and mercy for all. Affirmation is an activist, not-for-profit organization with no official ties to The United Methodist Church.
Snail-Mail: Affirmation, P.O. Box 1021, Evanston, IL 60204.
A statement from On Fire!
Young United Methodists Saddened and Disappointed by UMC
December 3, 2004
On Fire is deeply saddened and disappointed by the result of the Beth Stroud trial and its implications for the Church. Once again, the Church has chosen ideology (and ideology based on poor theology at that) over human lives and the clear and undeniable work of God in a person's life and ministry. When ideology trumps people, trumps God's work and God's calling, it is a sad day in the life of the United Methodist Church.
The attack on homosexuality and on gay and lesbian clergypersons in the UMC is based on some of the thinnest shreds of scriptural evidence that any doctrine has ever stood upon. It is done in a manner that is entirely contradictory to the life of love and acceptance that Christ lived. It is a blasphemous challenge to God's decision to call persons to ministry. In short, it is wrong.
Rev. Stroud, we are very sorry that you have been treated so shamefully and we stand with you in urging for a more open and inclusive Church-- one that does not tell God "no" when he calls someone to ministry and one that does not turn its back on the example that Jesus set for us and instead say that some are not worthy. We call for all references in the Discipline to homosexuality being incompatible with the life of a follower of Christ to be stricken and statements affirming the ability of all to be in relationship with God to be inserted instead.
On Fire! is a group of United Methodist young adults reclaiming our Wesleyan heritage of spiritual and social transformation.
Contact: Barbara Wheeler, Public Relations, email@example.com
Methodist Federation for Social Action:
The Church Chooses Legalism
A Response to the Trial of the Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud
by Kathryn J. Johnson, Executive Director
Methodist Federation for Social Action
December 2, 2004
In the eyes of the world it is not so much the Rev. Irene Elizabeth (Beth) Stroud who has been on trial this week as it has been the United Methodist Church. And we, the church, have been found guilty of choosing legalism over the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As the trial unfolded over two days, everyone agreed, defense and prosecution alike, that Beth Stroud is a woman of deep integrity, a gifted pastor, clearly called to ordained ministry.
In his opening statement the prosecutor described her as a good person and a good pastor. Witnesses, including the Bishop who brought charges against her, described her as grace-filled, kind, loving and compassionate.
Witnesses for the defense including Bishop John Schol who had served with her as a colleague described Beth as a person of great integrity, a profound preacher, a pastor who had a special gift for offering God's grace to her parishioners through the sacraments.
Repeatedly the prosecution interrupted proceedings to say that they were in total agreement as to Beth's character and call to ministry. There was no one, no one, who said Beth's ministry has been anything other than exceptional.
What is it then that was at issue? The entire case against Beth Stroud was held together by the thin thread of legalism. Within the 721 pages that constitute the United Methodist Book of Discipline Beth was charged with violating one provision. She readily admits having done so and not one person has come forward to suggest that it has diminished her ministry one iota. She herself says that being honest about her God-given sexual orientation has enabled her to be more effective in ministry.
The prosecution based its case on the contention that Beth has violated the covenant she entered into upon ordination, a covenant articulated in the United Methodist Book of Discipline. By in large there is overwhelming agreement across the church as to the meaning of this covenant. Throughout the course of this trial everyone agreed, that with one exception, Beth has not only honored this covenant but has served as a spirit-filled role model for parishioners, colleagues and Bishops in living out this covenant.
What is it then that she is accused of violating? It is the prohibition against being both ordained and a "practicing" homosexual. This is arguably the provision in the Discipline around which there is the broadest disagreement. Clearly the church is not of one mind on issues related to homosexuality.
The jury was given clear instructions as to what they were to consider. They were to limit their deliberations to this one provision and to look no further. The jury evidently accepted these limits.
Had the jurors been willing to take a step back and look at the larger context, I trust that they, and everyone else involved in this trial, would agree that the covenant articulated in the UM Book of Discipline rests within a larger covenant, a covenant entered into prior to any promise to live within the confines of the Discipline. This covenant consists of our relationship with God as revealed to us in Jesus Christ whom we come to know through Holy Scripture.
Had the jury embraced the fullness of the covenant that binds us together they would have encountered a contradiction that they would have been forced to resolve.
Scripture would have aided them in coming to that resolution. There are several places in Scripture that speak a clear word about where we should stand when confronted with the choice between narrow legalism and manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work. One of these is found in the 15th Chapter of Acts where we find the early church debating whether persons who have not been circumcised can be saved. Even in the face of clear evidence that the Gentiles encountered by Paul and Barnabas in Phoenicia and Samaria were being saved through the grace of God, some within the sect of the Pharisees objected saying that one must be circumcised in order to be a part of the church. Peter stands up and challenges the Pharisees saying that these Gentiles clearly have the Holy Spirit in them, given to them by God. There is no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles in the sense that all have been saved by the Grace of God.
It is a sad commentary on the United Methodist Church that we have yet to learn this lesson.
Everyone present at the trial - prosecution and defense, parishioners, friends and family - agree that the Holy Spirit is present and working powerfully in Beth Stroud. No verdict by a trial court can take that away.
We fear for the heart and soul of the church, however. How long will we survive if we continue to choose law over love and punishment over grace?
Methodist Federation for Social Action
212 East Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20003
Church Within A Church Movement:
Church Within A Church Movement Responds to Guilty Verdict of Rev. Beth Stroud
December 3, 2004
An effective ministry was killed on December 2nd, by the United Methodist Church.
All sides agreed that Rev. Beth Stroud was a qualified, effective, grace-filled preacher and minister. Yesterday the policy of "Don't ask, Don't tell" was confirmed and closet doors were slammed shut all across the denomination.
The tragic-comedy of United Methodism at this moment in history is visible in so many places: A 12-1 guilty verdict, then a 7-6 verdict to "take" Beth's ministerial credentials. It was obvious that 6 persons on the jury felt that possibly because of Beth's "truth-telling" she ought to keep her ministerial orders.
They did not have to defrock Beth Stroud. There is no prescribed penalty and we clearly saw leaders in this denomination deliberately choose legalism over grace.
"We don't worship at the altar of legalism," states Church Within A Church Co-Convener, Rev. Gil Caldwell, "legalism brings death not life." The denomination has been given over to the god of legalism instead of the God of grace and justice.
The verdict in the Rev. Beth Stroud's trial is clear evidence that if there had been no Church Within A Church Movement, it would have been necessary to organize one.
As a ministry is killed, Church Within A Church offers a witness to the power of resurrection.
Church Within A Church calls upon every Progressive congregation to start new churches. It is only through new birth that we will move from a legislative, legalistic Church, to one that stands for credible ministry that celebrates the sacred worth of all persons and of the rest of creation.
The blastphemous dehumanization and invalidation of the call to ministry that Beth and others have experienced within the United Methodist Church, compels the "raising up" of a response. Church Within A Church has a vision and strategies for ordaining those that have been mis-treated and cast aside.
"The institutional church always stands before the call of Jesus Christ to be the true Church," states Rev. Gregory Dell, Co-Convenor of the Church Within A Church movement, "and when the Church fails its call, individuals and congregations must rise up for faithfulness."
Organized in February of 2002, Church Within A Church is a grass roots response to actions of the United Methodist Church General Conference. Refusing to commit itself to remaining within the United Methodist denomination or leaving it, the progressive movement declares its mission: "To BE Church in a fully inclusive way." An 11-member coordinating team, which meets twice a year, guides the group.
Contact Information: Cathy Knight, Marketing/Development Director, Church Within A Church.
3344 N. Broadway Chicago, IL 60657.
Rev. Beth Stroud found "guilty" by the United Methodist Church for "practices 'incompatible' with Christian teaching" and loses her credentials.
"Verdict shows blatant hypocrisy of the United Methodist Church"
Press Release: December 2, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
(Spring City, PA) On December 2, 2004, Rev. Beth Stroud was found guilty by a jury of her peers in the United Methodist Church for "violating 2702 1b of the Book of Discipline by engaging in a practice declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teaching." Stroud loses her credentials as an elder in the United Methodist Church.
Rev. Stroud, a minister at First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG), was on trial because she is an "out" lesbian in a committed relationship. The trial took place in Eastern Pennsylvania, at Camp Innabah near Pottstown, PA.
"The United Methodist Church's deceptive marketing slogan is `Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors', but the Church's heart, mind, and doors are not open to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people," declared Laura Montgomery Rutt, Director of Communications for Soulforce, Inc. "This verdict shows the blatant hypocrisy of the United Methodist Church and poignantly illustrates the spiritual violence that the Church perpetuates against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, both inside and outside the church."
Soulforce defines spiritual violence as "the misuse of religion to sanction the condemnation and rejection of any of God's children." Soulforce was present outside the trial, carrying signs that challenged the church to "Stop Spiritual Violence." Also vigiling were members of FUMCOG, Reconciling Ministries Network, Affirmation, and the Methodist Federation for Social Action.
Over the past thirty years, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church has established policies and adopted church laws that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, denying them opportunity to be ordained clergy and to celebrate loving committed relationships in holy unions.
Soulforce was also present at the United Methodist church trials of Rev. Jimmy Creech and Rev. Karen Dammann. Rev. Creech, who is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Soulforce, Inc., was defrocked in 1999 for performing a holy union for two men. Karen Dammann was tried for being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual." Karen was acquitted by a jury in April 2004, in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.
After the verdict and the penalty were announced, Soulforce and Beth's other supporters erupted into the song, "We are Gentle, Angry People" as a means of nonviolent protest to the verdict.
Soulforce is a national interfaith organization committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce teaches and employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.
Metropolitan Community Churches:
A Public Statement from the Rev. Dr. Troy D. Perry, Founder & Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches
On The Church Trial and Conviction of the Rev. Elizabeth Stroud for Violating the United Methodist Church's Ban on Homosexual Clerics in Non-Celibate Relationships
December 2, 2004
Today, the friends and members of Metropolitan Community Churches stand in solidarity with the Reverend Elizabeth Stroud, who was found guilty and defrocked by the United Methodist Church for violating a church ban on active gay and lesbian clergy.
Despite today's pain, God will open new and meaningful doors of ministry for Rev. Stroud. Her future is filled with hope. But we grieve for a sister denomination that has lost the passion, gifts, and ministry of a deeply committed and called woman of faith -- solely because she has chosen to live her life openly and with authenticity.
We extend our love and prayers to the many gay clergy who continue to serve in the United Methodist Church, and to the tens of thousands of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons whose church of choice has failed to love them unconditionally, as God loves, and to embrace them without reservation. We support their faithful efforts to work for change within the denomination they love.
On behalf of Metropolitan Community Churches, we send our love and prayers to Rev. Stroud. We are saddened that her denomination has failed to live up to its motto: "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors." Today, her church shut its heart and mind -- and its doors -- to Rev. Stroud and to God's gay and lesbian children.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, frequently proclaimed "The world is my parish." He did not mean solely the heterosexual world. He truly meant that God loved the whole world -- and so should the Church.
Events such as these are sad but powerful reminders that the work of building communities of faith where all God's children are free to live and celebrate the great diversity of God's creation has unfortunately just begun. With all the advancements that have been made over the past three decades, the reality is that far too often homophobia is still rooted in religion and that far too often LGBT people are not welcomed into communities of faith.
Metropolitan Community Churches reaffirms its commitment to weclome persons of diverse genders and sexualities to serve and minister in any capacity, and reaffirms its 35-year commitment to work for spiritual justice for all God's people.
For Additional Information, Contact:
MCC Communications Department
8704 Santa Monica Boulevard, 2nd Floor
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Tel. 310-360-8640, Ext. 226
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