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NYT: Defrocked Minister Files Appeal With Methodist Church's Court

A 13-member jury made up of Methodist clergy convicted the Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud on the second day of her church trial (Dec. 2, 2004). 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. It then voted 7-6 to defrock Stroud, the bare majority necessary in the penalty phase of the trial, though her supportive congregation in Philadelphia has said Stroud can continue performing most of her duties.

[See my original post on this.]

I really don’t know how successful she will be, but her intention is to effect changes within the UMC on this matter. I guess she knows that she is in for a contentious battle. (NYT):

Ms. Stroud said she hesitated to appeal because she is tired and dislikes being in the spotlight, but “there are questions the larger church needs to discuss and wrestle with.”

She said one factor in her decision was something the retired Bishop Joseph Yeakel, the judge who presided at her church trial, said to her after the verdict. Mr. Yeakel told her, “the day will come when the church apologizes for this decision.”

Ms. Stroud was tried by her own Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. The case now goes to an appeals panel of the Northeastern Jurisdiction, which covers 12 states and the District of Columbia.

At the trial, Mr. Yeakel barred testimony from six witnesses who oppose the Methodist ban, citing both legal and theological arguments. But the six filed material that is part of the trial record, and the Northeastern Jurisdiction will review that.

If the Northeastern Jurisdiction decides trial procedures were mistaken, it could direct a second Pennsylvania trial, Mr. Yeakel said. It could also refer questions on interpretation of Methodist law to the church’s national Judicial Council.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding