From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Trial date set for openly gay Methodist pastor

Date Thu, 28 Oct 2004 14:42:28 -0500

Note #8550 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

October 28, 2004

Trial date set for openly gay Methodist pastor

by Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON - An openly gay Methodist pastor whose case was suspended on a
technicality will face trial Dec. 1, the first case to be tried under the
church's tightened rules against non-celibate gay clergy.

	The Rev. Irene (Beth) Stroud, associate pastor of First United
Methodist Church in Germantown, PA, will face a jury of 13 pastors on charges
that she violated a ban against "self-avowed practicing" gay clergy.

	Stroud triggered the trial when she announced her homosexuality to
her congregation last year. Stroud has requested an open trial, which will be
overseen by retired Bishop Joseph Yeakel at a church camp in Spring City, PA.

	If found guilty, Stroud could lose her ministerial credentials. Her
church has established a legal defense fund to help her pay for church

	"I'm not afraid," Stroud said in a statement posted on a Web site run
by supporters. "I can't know what the outcome of the trial will be, but I
trust God to work in and through whatever happens."

	In September, Yeakel rejected an indictment against Stroud as "null
and void" because of procedural errors. On Oct. 11, the investigative
committee again drafted an indictment based on "reasonable grounds" to pursue

	At the Methodists' General Conference meeting in May, delegates
tightened rules against gay clergy, and the church's top court ruled that
"the practice of homosexuality is a chargeable offense" for clergy. The court
also said bishops may not appoint pastors who had been found to be
"self-avowed practicing" homosexuals by a church trial.

	In a separate but related development, charges were dismissed against
a San Francisco pastor who was accused of breaking church law by marrying a
gay couple in her church last February. The complaint against the Rev. Karen
Oliveto was "resolved" after Oliveto left Bethany United Methodist Church to
take a teaching position at Pacific School of Religion, the local bishop

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