Beth Stroud Trial Case Date, Specifics Released

The famed United Methodist ex-clergywoman who lost her credentials for violating church laws prohibiting the ordination of active homosexuals will appeal her case to the church court on April 28, 2005.

According to a Feb. 16 announcment by the United Methodist News Service, Beth Stroud, the third lesbian minister who faced trial in the denomination’s history, will be at the Sharaton International Hotel on the grounds of Baltimore-Washington Airport for the three hour hearing beginning 9a.m.

During Stroud’s Dec. 2 trial, her attorneys argued that asside from being actively lesbian she has all the credentials needed to serve as a United Methodist pastor. However, the judge refused to hear such arguments since the point of debate was on whether Stroud violated the denomination’s prohibition of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” in the ordained ministry.

The Northeastern Jurisdiction, which oversaw the December trial, will also hear the appeal; the jurisdiction’s committee on appeals will meet in private on Apirl 27 to consdier questions for the heraing, according to UMNS.

The Rev. William "Scott" Campbell, committee chairman and pastor of Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church in Cambridge, Mass, said committee members already will have received briefs from Stroud and the conference as well as transcripts of the trial.

Campbell also said Stroud requested the hearing to be open to the public and that the committee’s decision will be announced on site.

According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, Paragraph 2715.7, "the appellate body shall determine two questions only: (a) Does the weight of the evidence sustain the charge or charges? (b) Were there such errors of church law as to vitiate the verdict and/or the penalty?"

"There will be an opportunity for each party to present its case orally," Campbell said.

Substitutions have been made for two of the standing members of the appeals committee because those who come from the same episcopal area as Stroud – which includes the Eastern Pennsylvania and the Peninsula-Delaware conferences – are not eligible to participate in the hearing, according to UMNS.

The committee’s clergy members hearing the appeal will be Campbell; the Rev. LaGretta Bjorn of Spring Valley, N.Y.; the Rev. Ronald McCauley of Buckhannon, W.Va.; and the Rev. John Topolewski of Owego, N.Y. Lay members will be Joy Wilcox of Etters, Pa., diaconal minister; Dale Dobbs of McVeytown, Pa., full-time local pastor; Julius Archibald of Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Sharon Bassett of Cicero, N.Y.; and N. Sharon Leatherman of Williamsport, Md.