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Defrocked minister to share her story

Beth Stroud, an ordained United Methodist pastor who lost her clergy credentials in a 2004 church trial for being in a committed relationship with another woman, will share her experiences and insights at a talk at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in Maginnes Hall.

The title of her talk is “Trial by Church: A Church’s Discipline, a Minister’s Integrity, and a Tale.”

Her talk, which is free and open to the public, is being sponsored by the Chaplain’s Office, LBGTQA, Women's Studies, Multi-Cultural Affairs and Religion Studies. Stroud was originally scheduled to speak at Lehigh on Feb. 20, but her talk was postponed.

Stroud’s ministerial credentials were taken from her following a two-day 2004 trial held by the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, which found her to be an “avowed practicing homosexual.”

By her own admission, she made a conscious effort to out herself with full realization of the potential consequences. In fact, Stroud declared as much in a sermon she had delivered a year earlier, during which she acknowledged that telling the truth would expose her to the risk of losing her credentials.

Stroud reportedly came out as a lesbian while still an undergraduate student at Bryn Mawr College. She was active in ACT UP and co-founded LGNY, which later became Gay City News. She was not, however, in a committed relationship at the time she was appointed to the churches she ministered to.

In talks and interviews following the defrocking, Stroud concedes that the loss of her ordination was a significant setback. But, she says, it was ultimately her decision to be open about her “covenant relationship” with another woman for the sake of spiritual well-being.

"I felt that it was something I needed to do for the integrity of my ministry," Stroud told an interviewer with Bryn Mawr Now magazine. "I knew that God made me a lesbian and gave me a wonderful partner, and I knew that God loves me as I am. But I wasn't sharing the good news of God's acceptance and love. I realized that my silence was holding me back in my ministry."

Stroud currently serves the First United Methodist Church of Germantown as a part-time pastoral assistant. She preaches several times a year and teaches the youth confirmation class. She is also developing a youth curriculum for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, Stroud went on to earn her Masters of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary. She worked as a writer and editor in New York City prior to entering the professional ministry.

She and her partner live in Philadelphia, where they serve their community as foster parents, and as parents to a one-year-old girl.

--Linda Harbrecht


Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007

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