'The United Methodist Church reaffirmed their commitment to inclusion and equality with its decision to retain the Rev. Beth Stroud,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese. 'The church's own words say it best: "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors."'
WASHINGTON - A United Methodist Church appeals committee announced today it voted 8 to 1 to retain the Rev. Beth Stroud, who was defrocked after she announced to her congregation that she was a lesbian in a committed relationship. The church currently allows its non-gay clergy to be in committed relationships.
"The United Methodist Church reaffirmed their commitment to inclusion and equality with its decision to retain the Rev. Beth Stroud," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "The church's own words say it best: 'Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.'"
Stroud was ordained in 1997. Church law had allowed open gays and lesbians to be ordained as ministers as long as they didn't enter into relationships. Initially, she did not violate church law, even though she was a lesbian. Stroud was quoted in The Associated Press saying that she had no plans to enter into a relationship, however, she stated, "I fell in love. It took me by surprise."
"She has helped to shape and change the hearts of people about God. She has helped people grow deeper in their faith," said Bishop John Schol of the Washington Episcopal Area and Baltimore-Washington Conference. "[The United Methodist Church] is on a long journey as a denomination."
With 8.3 million United Methodists in the United States, it is the second largest Protestant denomination in the country. The church's attorney, Thomas Hall, was quoted in the AP article as saying: "The implications will reverberate throughout the church."
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