Houston — A lesbian Methodist minister should retain her ordained status because defrocking her would amount to discrimination and would fly in the face of the inclusiveness that the church preaches, representatives of a Pennsylvania minister argued Thursday before the church's Judicial Council.
The nine-member council - seven of whom attended a hearing at First United Methodist Church in Houston - began deliberating the case of Irene "Beth" Stroud with plans to rule Monday. The Judicial Council is the highest court within the United Methodist Church, the nation's third-largest denomination.
Stroud, 35, was found by a church panel in December to have violated the denomination's ban on "self-avowed, practicing homosexual" clergy. The decision was later overturned and then appealed to the Judicial Council.