Three months after the United Methodist Church tightened its rules against “self-avowed, practicing” gay clergy, a lesbian pastor in Philadelphia will face trial after disclosing her sexual orientation.
Irene “Beth” Stroud, associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Germantown since 1999, “came out” last year in a sermon, saying she had lived “in a covenant relationship” with her partner, Chris Paige, for more than two years.
A church investigation committee voted 5-3 on July 23 that “reasonable grounds exist” for a church trial. Bishop Peter Weaver of Philadelphia has not yet set a trial date. “I love the United Methodist Church,” Stroud said in a statement on her church’s Web site. “This is where I came to know the love of God as a young child, and where God is calling me to serve.”