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This Methodist pastor was defrocked 20 years ago for being gay. She just got reinstated.

New York, NY, USA-December 28, 2019 A Untied Methodist Church with a Pride Flag showing support for the LGBT community
New York, NY, USA-December 28, 2019 A Untied Methodist Church with a Pride Flag showing support for the LGBT community Photo: Shutterstock

Twenty years after getting kicked out of the United Methodist Church (UMC) for being gay, a pastor was finally reinstated.

Beth Stroud, a 54-year-old lesbian, was defrocked from her role as a United Methodist pastor in 2004 for revealing that she was in a same-sex relationship. Earlier this month, she opted to be subject to a vote to be reinstated into the clergy. The vote passed with more than two thirds voting for her reinstatement.

This comes after UMC voted to end its ban on LGBTQ+ clergy earlier this month.

Stroud was brought into the room shortly after the vote and was met with a round of applause and a wave of emotion.

“I was completely disoriented. For what felt like several minutes, I couldn’t tell where the front of the room was, where I was, where I needed to go,” Stroud said.

“Everyone was clapping and then they started singing. The bishop asked me quietly if I wanted to say anything and I said I couldn’t.”

She was then given a red stole, which signifies someone as a full member of the clergy. She then joined her colleagues in prayer.

The UMC does not know how many members of its clergy have been defrocked for being LGBTQ+.

Some activists, while celebrating the reinstatement of those in the clergy, point out that there is still quite a bit of work left to be done with the treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Amy DeLong, a lesbian pastor from Wisconsin who no longer considers herself Methodist, fought for years for LGBTQ+ individuals to be accepted within the clergy. She formed advocacy groups, protested bans, and even got temporarily suspended for her work.

She eventually took an early retirement after seeing UMC fail to budge.

“I couldn’t stomach the hypocrisy anymore. The harm they were doing, in my opinion, outweighed whatever good they were doing. They lost the right to shape me and to have any authority over me anymore,” said DeLong

“It’s good that language is gone.… It needed to never be a part of who we were,” she said. “But gosh, just all of the senseless brutality weighs so heavily on me.”

Stroud does not yet plan to return to the ministry, as she is working a full-time teaching job at Princeton University and is transitioning into a new role as an assistant professor of Christian history at the Ohio-based Methodist Theological School.

She still wanted the option to rejoin the clergy in order to open up other career paths for her in different congregations across Ohio.

In reaction to being defrocked, she said, “The first thing I felt was just anger — thinking about the life I could have had. I loved being a pastor. I was good at it. With 20 more years of experience, I could have been very good — helped a lot of people and been very fulfilled.”

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