Friday, December 03, 2004


In case you haven't already heard, a United Methodist clergywoman was defrocked yesterday for being lesbian. "The Rev. Irene Elizabeth “Beth” Stroud was found guilty Dec. 2 of engaging in “practices that are incompatible with Christian teachings.” After that 12-1 decision, the trial court — or jury — entered a penalty phase and voted 7-6 to strip Stroud of her ministerial credentials, effective immediately." That's from the article in the United Methodist News Service. Here's the link to the AP story.

I can't say that I'm surprised by the decision. The 2004 General Conference made it virtually impossible to rule any other way. But I am disappointed. I could respond with a theological argument, not that difficult to do, but I'd rather give a personal response. You see, I was on the other side of this issue not long ago. I agreed that homosexuality was incompatible with Christian teaching and that gays and lesbians should not be ordained or appointed. I was a member of a United Methodist church that drove out the pastor who was appointed because she is lesbian.

And then I started to get to know some of my colleagues, ministerial candidates, who also happen to be gay or lesbian. Some of them I knew before they had come out, some after. And what I found as I really thought about these friends of mine, and struggled with this issue, is that they have the gifts and graces for ministry. When it comes right down to it in Methodist polity, that's what matters: does this person have the gifts and graces for ordained ministry. And what I found is that these people, my friends and colleagues, gay and lesbian ministerial candidates, very clearly, beyond any doubt in my mind, do indeed have the gifts and graces. And I had to face the fact that if God had granted these persons the gifts and graces (to a greater degree than they are present in me in many cases), then who am I to disagree with God? If God is choosing to accomplish incredible ministry through people who happen to be lesbian or gay, then who am I to stand in God's way? If the gifts and graces are there, how can we not recognize them?

I know that there are United Methodists and other Christians out there who disagree with me on this point. I respect their opinions and their right to disagree with me. But I must at least give testimony to my conversion in this matter. I pray that we continue to struggle together.


Blogger Brian said...

This makes me sad too. Have you heard about the controversy over the UCC television ad and CBS and NBC's refusal to air it, citing the fact that it is "too controversial."

They had a guy from Lake Bible Church (big evangelical megachurch in Lake Oswego) on the local news last night saying he was offended by the message of the ad that while other churches keep gays and lesbians out, the UCC doesn't. He said that gays and lesbians were more than welcome at his church, so long as they repent of their lifestyle. I want to call him up and say, "uh, sir...that's exactly what the UCC is talking about."

Its one thing being part of a conference that is very supportive of gays and lesbians, but its becoming harder for me to be part of a larger church that is so hostile to them and those that would support them. I find it ironic that at a time where the church is Hemorrhaging members, we're working so hard as an organization to keep people out of our fellowship.

12:42 PM  
Blogger DLW said...

I think that more care needs to be made about the def'n of what is meant as a homosexual. There are two prevalent def'ns out there and different sides of the question use different def'ns often. This causes a lot of the heat over the issue. As I understand it, the facts show that both are appropriate.

I am a Bethel Seminary student. I learned about your blog through Jenell's blog. I posted my thoughts on this subject here.
I have also had friends who are homosexuals, but take a more scientific approach to the issue.

3:25 PM  
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