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April 7, 2005

   

BETH STROUD '91 TO SPEAK ON HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CLERGY

Beth Stroud

Beth Stroud '91, a former United Methodist Minister, will return to Bryn Mawr on April 14 to speak to the campus community for the first time since she was defrocked for violating a church rule against the ordination and appointment of "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals." Stroud will speak and answer questions about her vocation, her trial, her appeal of the decision and other issues in Room 101 of Aelwyd, the College's religious-life house on Cambrian Row, from noon to 2 p.m. Lunch will be served.

Stroud's clerical trial made national headlines in early December and again after Christmas, when she announced that she would pursue an appeal. The process that led to the loss of her ministerial credentials began with her decision to make an open declaration to her congregation at First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG) that she was a lesbian living in a "covenant relationship" with a partner. She realized that she was risking her ordination, but believed that her faith demanded her honesty.

"I felt that it was something I needed to do for the integrity of my ministry," Stroud has said. "I knew that God made me a lesbian and gave me a wonderful partner, and I knew that God loves me as I am. But I wasn't sharing the good news of God's acceptance and love. I realized that my silence was holding me back in my ministry."

Stroud's congregation has supported her throughout her ordeal, and she continues to be employed by FUMCOG as a lay minister.

In her "coming out sermon," available online at http://bethstroud.info/outsermon.shtml, Stroud recalls her struggle, as a Bryn Mawr student emerging from the closet, to reconcile her faith with her sexuality:

"Quietly, I just stopped going to church, and dropped out of the campus fellowship group. I thought it was no big deal; doesn't everyone do that in college? But my junior year, when a friend suggested we visit some churches that might welcome us as young lesbians, I was willing to go along on a visit to FUMCOG. I was only planning to come one time. But I felt embraced I found myself becoming more involved, more committed, than I had ever been. I became the assistant teacher for the confirmation class, and I loved it. The taste of ministry I got at FUMCOG was significant enough that I even decided to apply to seminary."

Stroud's visit is sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Affairs.

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