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United Methodist
judicial council defrocks lesbian minister

United Methodist
judicial council defrocks lesbian minister

The highest court in the United Methodist Church defrocked a lesbian minister Monday for violating the denomination's ban on "self-avowed, practicing homosexual" clergy. The nine-member Judicial Council--seven members of which heard the case Friday in Houston--issued a ruling from its offices in Nashville. A church panel ruled in December that the Reverend Irene "Beth" Stroud, 35, engaged in practices that the United Methodist Church has declared incompatible with Christian teachings. That decision was overturned by the Northeast Jurisdiction Committee on Appeals, but the Judicial Council on Monday backed the original ruling. The Judicial Council ruled Monday that the appeals committee "erred in reversing and setting aside the verdict and penalty from Reverend Stroud's trial." Stroud, who became an associate pastor at Philadelphia's First United Methodist Church of Germantown in 1999, has said she never revealed her sexual orientation in documents related to her ordination but that she didn't keep it a secret either. She said she decided to come out publicly in 2003 because she felt she was being held back in her faith by not sharing the complete truth about her life. A complaint was filed against her last year. Stroud and her representatives couldn't be reached for immediate comment on the Judicial Council decision. (AP)

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