Soulforce to be a nonviolent presence at Rev. Beth Stroud’s trial to protest continuing Spiritual Violence by the United Methodist Church against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people

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Soulforce Press Release: November 29, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592(media only) laura@soulforce.org
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(Lynchburg, VA) On December 1 – 3, 2004, Rev. Beth Stroud will be facing a trial in the United Methodist Church, not for what she did, but for who she is. Rev. Stroud is a minister at First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG) and is being tried because she is an "out" lesbian in a committed relationship. The trial is taking place in Eastern Pennsylvania, at Camp Innabah near Pottstown, PA.

Over the past thirty years, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church has established policies and adopted church laws that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, denying them opportunity to be ordained clergy and to celebrate loving committed relationships in holy unions.

"The laws of The United Methodist Church are such that gay people who lie about who they are and who they love are welcome to serve the Church by answering God’s call to ministry. However, if they tell the truth, the Church puts them on trial and prosecutes them for being honest," said Rev. Jimmy Creech, Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Soulforce, Inc. "The trial is an act of violence against the essential dignity and integrity of gay people. It is the height of hyprocrisy to punish people for telling the truth."

Soulforce defines spiritual violence as "the misuse of religion to sanction the condemnation and rejection of any of God’s children." The Soulforce mission states it is "committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings." Soulforce will be carrying "stop signs" that say "Stop Spiritual Violence" as well as other signs and banners, and vigiling in cooperation with FUMCOG, Reconciling Ministries Network, and the Methodist Federation for Social Action.

Soulforce was also present at the United Methodist church trials of Rev. Jimmy Creech and Rev. Karen Dammann. Rev. Creech, who the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Soulforce, Inc., was defrocked in 1999 for performing a holy union for two men. Karen Dammann was tried for being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual." Karen was acquitted by a jury in April 2004, in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.

Soulforce has been present at many denominational gatherings as well, including the past two General Conference of the United Methodist Church (which meets every 4 years), the past five annual Southern Baptist Conventions and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s annual meeting, the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly, and more. In the past 5 years, over 500 people have been arrested in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience and thousands have been trained in nonviolence. Soulforce teaches and employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.

MEDIA: This is an excellent photo opportunity, as well as a controversial story. For interviews, contact Laura Montgomery Rutt (717-278-0592). For additional information on the trial of Rev. Beth Stroud, go to www.soulforce.org .


Soulforce, Inc. is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Soulforce teaches and employs the non-violent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities. www.soulforce.org

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