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A Methodist pastor was defrocked 20 years ago for being gay. She's finally been reinstated

United Methodist Church defrocked reinstated Beth Stroud
Shutterstock; Princeton University, Department of Religion

Beth Stroud said her "whole life would have been different" had she not been removed from her position in the church.

A Methodist pastor has finally been reinstated in the church over 20 years after she was kicked out for being gay.

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The United Methodist Church defrocked Beth Stroud, 54, in 2004 after she told her Philadelphia congregation that she was in a committed relationship with another woman. She was found guilty of violating “Christian teaching” in a church trial and stripped of her credentials.

Stroud is now once again a pastor and full member of the church after being reinstated Tuesday night during a closed meeting between clergy from eastern Pennsylvania. The pastor told the Associated Press that she was brought into the room after the vote, and that she was unable to speak after being overcome with emotion.

"I was completely disoriented,” Stroud said. “For what felt like several minutes I couldn’t tell where the front of the room was, where I was, where I needed to go. Everyone was clapping and then they started singing. The bishop asked me quietly if I wanted to say anything and I said I couldn’t.”

The United Methodist Church overturned its 40-year ban on clergy members who are “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” at the beginning of May. The church’s top legislative body met in Charlotte, North Carolina and voted 692-51 without debate to overturn both its ban on gay clergy as well as the penalties for holding same-sex marriages.

Stroud, who is currently teaching writing at Princeton University, does not yet plan to return to the ministry full-time, as she has a job lined up over the summer as an assistant professor of Christian history at one of 13 seminaries run by the UMC, the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. While she is proud of the work she's done, she said that “my whole life would have been different" if she had not been ousted from the church.

“The first thing I felt was just anger — thinking about the life I could have had,” Stroud continued. “I loved being a pastor. I was good at it. With 20 more years of experience, I could have been very good — helped a lot of people and been very fulfilled.”

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.