Methodists Reinstate Defrocked Minister.
The decision overturns a ruling by a lower church court that removed the Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud from the ministry for violating Methodist law that forbids "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" to be ordained or serve as members of the clergy.
The seesaw in church courts is only the latest sign of the divide over homosexuality in the United Methodist Church, the nation's third-largest Christian denomination, with 8.2 million members. For years, gay members of the clergy in the denomination have functioned under a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Ms. Stroud's case will probably be appealed to the church's equivalent of the Supreme Court - the Judicial Council - which has consistently ruled against openly noncelibate gay clergy members . . . .
Conservatives in the church yesterday attributed the decisions in favor of openly gay clergy members to geography. They said church regions in the Northeast and the West were more liberal toward homosexuality than most other Methodist regions.
The church's Book of Discipline says that active homosexuality is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus. But it also calls homosexuals "individuals of sacred worth."
(4-30-05, The New York Times.)