Latest UM Homosexual Soap Opera - "As the Lesbian Turns": UM Church, Led by its Pro-homosexuality Pastors, Works "Faithfully, Prayerfully, and with Hope" to Undermine Christ
September 2004 Update From Rev. Fred Day, senior pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG) http://www.bethstroud.info/fumcog20040915.shtml
Dear FUMCOG family,
We ask for your prayers. A new hearing has been ordered in Beth Stroud's church judicial process. As you know, this process has been unfolding since April 2003, when Beth preached a sermon in which she shared that she is a lesbian living in a covenant relationship with a partner.
The United Methodist Book of Discipline states that "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" cannot serve as ordained ministers. Of course, at FUMCOG, we believe they can. As our associate pastor, Beth has been serving us faithfully and with excellence for more than five years. She exhibits all the gifts and graces of a person called to ordained ministry. She continues to have our full support.
Retired Bishop Joseph H. Yeakel, who was appointed earlier this month as the presiding officer in the case, ruled the Committee on Investigation's 5-3 decision on July 23 to send her case to a church trial "null and void" because of procedural and legal errors. He has instructed the chair of the committee, the Rev. Kent E. Kroehler of Lancaster, to reconvene the committee and hear the case again.
Bishop Yeakel raised two points of church law in relation to the committee's decision. First, the committee had considered two laypersons as voting members of the Committee, which he declared was inconsistent with a May 2000 Judicial Council ruling. The result was that the committee did not have a quorum. Second, he stated that the committee "was not properly constituted" because of a statement of conscience made by some of its members.
The three members of the committee who voted against sending Beth's case to trial had made the statement: "We do not believe that a self- avowed, practicing homosexual clergyperson in a monogamous, committed relationship engages in practices incompatible with Christian teachings." This statement was appended to the written decision of the Committee. Bishop Yeakel told Rev. Kroehler that an October 2003 Judicial Council ruling requires members "unwilling to uphold the Discipline for reasons of conscience… to step aside."
The Rev. J. Dennis Williams, a retired pastor who is serving as Beth's clergy counsel, says, "We're grateful Bishop Yeakel found the procedural error now, yet the necessity of another hearing is disappointing. I feel sad that a Judicial Council ruling puts our colleagues in the very difficult position of having to choose between voting against their conscience or stepping aside."
We are all concerned about a second hearing and the additional stress it places on Beth, but we will continue to face the judicial process with faith, with hope, and with loving prayers for our clergy colleagues in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference who will face such hard choices. Beth is in good spirits and continues to work on teaching her Disciple Bible study group, leading confirmation class, and organizing all of our youth and children's ministries. Hundreds of dollars have been donated to her legal fund from all over the country, and just about every day she receives a supportive, encouraging phone call, card, or letter.
Let us all continue to hold one another in prayer and be in ministry together.
Fred Day Senior Pastor
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