Irene Elizabeth “Beth” Stroud has decided to appeal the Dec. 2 decision by a United Methodist trial court to revoke her ministerial credentials.
Then the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia, she had been found guilty of violating church law, which forbids the participation of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” in the ordained ministry. Stroud, 34, had publicly acknowledged that she was living in a committed relationship with another woman.
In a Dec. 27 telephone interview, Stroud told United Methodist News Service that she would send a letter during the week to Bishop Marcus Matthews of the denomination’s Philadelphia Area and Bishop Joseph Yeakel, the retired bishop who presided over her trial, notifying them of the appeal.
Denominational procedure allowed Stroud 30 days in which to appeal the court decision. That appeal will be handled by the committee on appeal of the church’s Northeastern Jurisdiction.
“I feel there were some questions the church needs to wrestle with that we were not able to wrestle with at the trial,” she said about her decision.
One of her concerns is that Yeakel did not allow her counsel, the Rev. J. Dennis Williams, to present testimony about the “overall message” of the United Methodist Book of Discipline and how it related to her case.
Yeakel had ruled before the trial that certain issues were not appropriate for that trial court but should be considered by the church’s supreme court or top legislative body.
Since the trial, Stroud has continued to work at First United Methodist Church of Germantown as a lay employee.