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Methodist Jury Convicts Lesbian Minister

By ProtiusX ·

"PUGHTOWN, Pa. - A jury made up of United Methodist Church clergy convicted a lesbian minister Thursday of violating church law by openly living with her partner in a committed relationship.

The Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud could be defrocked as a result of the ruling, which came on the second day of her church trial. The same 13-member jury was set to meet Thursday afternoon to decide her penalty.

Methodist law bars "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" from ministry. Nine votes were necessary for a conviction and the jury voted 12-1 to find Stroud guilty.

The last time the 8.3 million-member denomination convicted an openly gay cleric was in 1987, when a New Hampshire church court defrocked the Rev. Rose Mary Denman.

Last March, a Methodist court in Washington state acquitted the Rev. Karen Dammann, who lives with a same-sex partner, citing an ambiguity in church law that the Methodist supreme court has since eliminated.

Before the jury returned, Stroud, 34, told reporters that whatever the verdict, "this case has shown how divided we are" over the role of gays in the church. She had expected to be convicted.

Stroud, associate pastor at Philadelphia's First United Methodist Church of Germantown, set the case in motion last year when she announced to her bishop and congregation that she was living in a committed relationship with her partner, Chris Paige.

At her trial, Stroud's defense was dealt a **** when the presiding judge Joseph Yeakel, the retired bishop of Washington, D.C., excluded expert testimony from six defense witnesses who believe the church's gay clergy ban violates its own legal principles.

The senior pastor of Stroud's church, the Rev. Alfred Day III, attempted to raise a similar issue when he took the stand, saying "I believe that even the testimony of Scripture is far from clear on this subject."

"We have more muddle than clarity," he said. But the prosecuting attorney, the Rev. Thomas Hall of Exton, Pa., asked Yeakel to strike Day's statement and the judge instructed the jury that "constitutional issues are not before this court."

Stroud's defense counsel, the Rev. J. Dennis Williams, said in closing arguments that "the heart of the issue is whether all United Methodists, regardless of status, are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities."

"I only wish you could hear the full testimony we wished to present," Williams said.

But Hall told jurors they had a duty to "hold a good pastor accountable to the standard with which we all live" under the Methodist Book of Discipline.

The basic facts in the case were never in dispute, since Stroud had declared she was gay.

The only two defense witnesses to be called were Day and the senior pastor who supervised her in Westchester, Pa. Both lavishly praised her performance in preaching, teaching and pastoral work. Hall agreed with that assessment.

Stroud's supportive Philadelphia congregation has already agreed that she can continue doing her work as a lay employee without clergy status. However, she will be unable to celebrate baptism or Communion."

What do you think? Fair or Not?

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I dunno Protius

by Oz_Media In reply to Methodist Jury Convicts L ...

Well I am somewhat split on this specific case.

On one hand I think gay men and women should be seen and identified as exactly the same as any other 'couple' on Earth, without question. They should not be gay or straight, just people. IN the same sense that I don't like Afro-American or Indo-Canadian, especially when most were born in the USA or Canada, why are they not just Canadian or American? Black and White is not derogatory it is descriptive.

The issue here is not really one of a persons rights to practice religion of choice, but one of clergy status.

I find it unfortunate that people are disallowed clergy status based on sexual preference, but must still respect the fact that this is a religious organization and therefore set to follow an extremely tight set of rules that were quite literally (forgive me)chipped in stone.

I believe in allowing for freedom of religion and seeing as this doesn't infringe on any constitutional rights it should be accepted, whether we agree or not with the decision, it was one that nobody can contest.

If they were told they could not PRACTICE religion, then I would say it is wrong. But to refrain from 'promoting' someone within a private organization cannot be seen as a crime or morally wrong.

I can move to the US and I can play a role in politics but I will never be president because I am not American. It's not morally or racially predjudiced, it's just set of fixed rules.

Just thinking out loud again.

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by ProtiusX In reply to I dunno Protius

Very well said Oz! Your thoughts are fair and concise. I know sometimes we don't see eye to eye but you are one to be fair.

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by JamesRL In reply to Methodist Jury Convicts L ...

None of us are free from descrimination.

I descriminate on restaurants, wines, many things.

Religious organizations also descriminate on many things - so long as being a member of a church is a free will choice, I don't see a problem.

The challenge is in fairness. I've sung in many church choirs, and met many homosexuals who were not open but were members of the clergy. The church in many cases chooses to look the other way. That is unfair - if you are going to enforce a rule, particularly with regards to employment, you should be consistent in how it is applied.

The challenge is that unlike the Roman Catholic church, many churches have a much looser hierarchy and a fair amount of local autonomy.

The church I last sang at (United Church of Canada, which was formed by Methodists and other churches) had quite a time - big schism, some breakaway churches, but in the end allows homosexuals to be ministers. I personally don't have a problem with that. But I know other churches like the Anglican (Episcopal in US)church struggle, as the North American churches are generally open to it, while the rapidly growing African churches are very much against it. So they delay any vote, and postpone the debate.


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I don’t get it

by ProtiusX In reply to Descrimination

The bible is very clear about sin. It is especially clear about sexual sin. Sex is a gift of God between a man and a woman after they are married. Any other form of sex outside those bounds is sin. Period.
Homosexuality is dealt with all over the bible but more to the point it is referenced in Romans
Romans 1:18”For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;”
Romans 1:24-27 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. “

This is not about sexual liberation or gay rights. This is about a person who professes to not only be a Christian but a minister violating God’s law, sinning and unwilling to repent from that sin.

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the point

by gralfus In reply to Methodist Jury Convicts L ...

The division being seen in certain denominations over homosexuality is not a matter of whether people are nice, helpful, good leaders, sanitary, or any other of a host of issues. It is entirely a matter of adherence to what God laid out in the scriptures, rather than making up whatever religion most pleases us at the moment, or that our culture says ought to be correct thinking.

So it is not a matter of being "fair", it is a matter of doing what you were told by the only one who can define right and wrong. If you don't belive what He has to say, why try to represent Him to the world as clergy? If your goal is just to help people, work as a counselor or deliver meals, etc.

It would not be right for me to try to pass myself off as a Buddist, and certainly not as a monk, simply because I have similar beliefs in some areas. The same hold true for Islam, Baha'i, or any other religion.

Jesus didn't come to tell us to just be nice to people. He wouldn't have been crucified for that. While he told us not to compare others to ourselves (the famous "judge not"), he always held people to the law of God ("go and sin no more"), and gave mercy to those who turned away from their rebellion. He still does. However, people still seem to want to associate with him while following their own rebellious pleasures (whatever they may be). He already said that on the day of judgement, *many* will claim to be his friend and he will tell them plainly "I never knew you. Depart from me, you who do evil." He mentions weeping and gnashing of teeth, darkness and intense suffering, because at that point there is no more mercy.

That is why these issues are taken so seriously, and why the church removes those who are in open rebellion against God.

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So why?

by Bob in Calgary In reply to the point

Haven't the churches ex communicated, prosecuted or otherwise disposed of all the clergy who have been guilty of sexual assault and abuse of young kids?

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Collusion, cronyism

by gralfus In reply to So why?

Those in power feel they can benefit by not flushing these turds, generally because they are more interested in protecting their cronies than they are in godliness. I can't answer for why the Catholic church does anything, but my obervations of their behavior historically seem to be to protect the priests at all cost and don't ever admit wrongdoing.

I've seen small Pentecostal churches where the pastor was so idolized that he and his cronies were beyond reproach, even when the little girls in the congregation were being methodically raped by them. Any accusation against them was hushed by the parents. They will burn, but in the meantime the little ones suffer.

I've come to the conclusion that most of what calls itself "the church" doesn't even believe in God, despite fervent claims otherwise. The leadership isn't any different, and is often the worst of the lot. There still are believers, but many in churches don't tend to like them, and they get kicked out. There are still some congregations that are real, what the scriptures refer to as a "remnant".

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