Penalty Announced for Lesbian Clergy Case: Stroud Defrocked

Three hours after the guilty verdict was announced, the trial court declared the penalty for the lesbian clergywoman Irene Elizabeth Stroud: her ministerial credentials should be completely revoked.

Stroud was on trial for the last two days for her violation of the United Methodist law that says “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” are unfit for clergy. The verdict was announced without extended debate because Stroud herself had confessed before the court that she was indeed a sexually active homosexual.

While most members of the 8.3 million member denomination expected the guilty verdict, they were unsure of what her penalty would be. The Rev. Thomas Hall, the main prosecutor in the case, urged the jury to withdraw Stroud’s credential since that was the only penalty that fits with denominational law and polity. The defense attorney meanwhile urged the jurors to “be creative” in allowing a lesser penalty.

By a 7-6 vote, the minimum needed to set the penalty, the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference decided the church should withdraw Stroud’s credentials.

Bishop Joseph Yeakel, presiding officer, advised Stroud that she has the right to appeal the decision within 30 days. He closed the trial with a prayer.