A Methodist pastor was defrocked 20 years ago for being gay. She's finally been reinstated

United Methodist Church defrocked reinstated Beth Stroud
United Methodist Church defrocked reinstated Beth Stroud

A Methodist pastor has finally been reinstated in the church over 20 years after she was kicked out for being gay.

Keep up with the latest in LGBTQ+ news and politics. Sign up for The Advocate's email newsletter.

The United Methodist Church defrocked Beth Stroud, 54, in 2004 after she told her Philadelphia congregation that she was in a committed relationship with another woman. She was found guilty of violating “Christian teaching” in a church trial and stripped of her credentials.

Stroud is now once again a pastor and full member of the church after being reinstated Tuesday night during a closed meeting between clergy from eastern Pennsylvania. The pastor told the Associated Press that she was brought into the room after the vote, and that she was unable to speak after being overcome with emotion.

"I was completely disoriented,” Stroud said. “For what felt like several minutes I couldn’t tell where the front of the room was, where I was, where I needed to go. Everyone was clapping and then they started singing. The bishop asked me quietly if I wanted to say anything and I said I couldn’t.”

The United Methodist Church overturned its 40-year ban on clergy members who are “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” at the beginning of May. The church’s top legislative body met in Charlotte, North Carolina and voted 692-51 without debate to overturn both its ban on gay clergy as well as the penalties for holding same-sex marriages.

Stroud, who is currently teaching writing at Princeton University, does not yet plan to return to the ministry full-time, as she has a job lined up over the summer as an assistant professor of Christian history at one of 13 seminaries run by the UMC, the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. While she is proud of the work she's done, she said that “my whole life would have been different" if she had not been ousted from the church.

“The first thing I felt was just anger — thinking about the life I could have had,” Stroud continued. “I loved being a pastor. I was good at it. With 20 more years of experience, I could have been very good — helped a lot of people and been very fulfilled.”