The United Methodist Church (search) reversed itself Friday, deciding to reinstate a lesbian minister who was defrocked after revealing her relationship with another woman.

A church panel voted 8 to 1 to set aside an earlier decision to defrock Irene Beth Stroud (search) for violating the church's ban on openly gay clergy.

The Philadelphia minister said she was relieved by the ruling and hopes the church will become more inclusive to people regardless of sexual orientation.

After Stroud disclosed the relationship to her congregation two years ago, the church defrocked her, meaning that she could no longer serve communion or baptize anyone. She kept the title of associate minister and worked in a lay capacity at the First United Methodist Church (search) of Germantown in Philadelphia.

"The church is not free to disregard the standards of justice and inclusiveness that are preached by Jesus Christ ... and are a part of church law," Stroud said after church authorities read their decision at a hotel.

"The ruling gives us hope that the United Methodist Church has the resources to do justice," she said.