.- A 13-members jury, made up of United Methodist church clergy, has found Pastor Irene Elizabeth Stroud guilty of violating church law by living openly with her homosexual partner, reported AgapePress.
Stroud could be defrocked as a result of the ruling, which came on the second day of her church trial.
Stroud’s congregation in Philadelphia had already agreed that she could continue preaching, teaching, and doing pastoral work as a lay employee should she be found guilty. She would not, however, be able to celebrate baptism or communion.
The Pennsylvania pastor had told the church trial Dec. 1 that she lives with her lesbian partner, Chris Paige. However, she did not plead guilty to violating the denomination's ban on homosexual clerics in non-celibate relationships.
Stroud had admitted to her lesbian lifestyle 18 months ago. At a pre-trial press conference, Stroud stated her belief that God created her to be a lesbian, and expressed her hope that the United Methodist Church will eventually change its laws regarding homosexual clergy.
Rev. Tom Hall is the lead counsel for the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference, which brought the complaint against Stroud. Hall acknowledged it is painful to bring a colleague to trial based on the denomination's Book of Discipline, but "when someone steps over the line, we are to be accountable."
Stroud said she stayed with the United Methodist Church because that is where she grew up, though she had considered the more homosexual-friendly United Church of Christ and Episcopal denominations.