Less than two weeks ago, Judy Schmidt, a pastoral intern at a Lutheran church in Rockville, confided to the church pastor that her engagement to another seminarian had been broken off. In the course of their conversation, Schmidt, 29, told the pastor she and her fiance had lived together.

Two days later, according to Schmidt, the pastor, the Rev. John Manrodt, ended her internship at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church on Old Georgetown Road.

"He said, 'Judy, because of what you told me Saturday {during their meeting}, I can no longer be your supervisor and cannot work with you,' " Schmidt recalled.

Subsequently Manrodt contacted the Gettysburg, Pa., seminary where Schmidt was two years away from her divinity degree. The Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary is now moving to expel her, Schmidt said yesterday.

Manrodt said he did talk to the seminary but at no time, he said, did he tell anyone what Schmidt had told him of her broken relationship. "When I have concerns about someone becoming a minister I have a right to go to the seminary," he said. He said he set up a meeting with Schmidt and the seminary director of field education.

Schmidt said that even if Manrodt did not discuss her living arrangement, in her view, he violated her confidence by contacting the seminary at all. "To me, it's not a question of morality or immorality," she said. "It's a matter of breaking confidentiality. I went to him in a lot of pain and instead of healing, it has been hell."

The principle of confidentiality is jealously guarded by most clerics, just as it is by physicians and psychologists, who say it is essential to their job as counselors.

Lutheran teaching places a greater value on it than on abstaining from premarital sex, according to Lutheran officials.

Unlike some other denominations, the Lutheran church has no law prohibiting sex before marriage, though the practice is frowned upon.

Most branches of the Lutheran church are known as being more flexible on issues of personal relationships and more restrictive in matters of theological doctrine than are many other Christian denominations.

It was just this balance of what is sometimes called gospel versus law that attracted Schmidt to the Lutherans, she said.

Brought up by Southern Baptist parents in the Midwest, she was baptized a Lutheran at 21 and immediately embarked on a career in the church, hoping to become a parish pastor.

Schmidt, a slender, mild-mannered woman, fears that she will never be ordained now.

"What seminary is going to take me as a student?" she asked. "What church would ever take me as an intern?"

She said seminary officials knew of her living arrangement but did not tell her how they had learned of it. She added that she felt after her conversation with seminary officials that they might not expel her if she apologizes for living for three months with her fiance.

"But I don't think what I did was wrong. I don't think I would ever get married to someone without living with them first," she said. Seminary officials could not be reached for comment.

What Schmidt said upsets her particularly is that as a pastor-in-training, she is held to a different standard than are other young unmarried men and women. "This happens every day at the seminary, every day in our parish," she said. "I've had parishioners come up and say, why, you're only doing what our sons or daughters do. We may not approve of it, but it's a fact of today's society."

Schmidt's dismissal has divided the 200 members of Trinity Lutheran, according to longtime members of the congregation. Several members said they are afraid to talk to reporters, fearing they will be ostracized by others in the congregation. Schmidt is staying with a friend, and she is keeping her whereabouts secret from most of the congregation.

Another Lutheran minister, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said that in such a case, he would counsel the person who came to him and would not terminate her.

Schmidt said that after Manrodt informed her he could no longer work with her, she tried on a couple of occasions to talk through the problem with Manrodt, but failed.

Manrodt said he could not divulge the specifics of any conversation he had with Schmidt and declined to elaborate on what efforts he made to work with her.

In a letter written on Sunday, Sept. 27, and distributed to congregation members, Manrodt elaborated on how he decided he could no longer work with Schmidt: "Coming to this realization was painful. I did not make this decision alone. I contacted those people I considered my mentors and supervisors . . . . I called the bishop's office . . . . I have spoken to people at the seminary. All of those I talked with agreed that the internship needed to be terminated."

In the letter, he asked church members for their understanding. "While there are several significant issues involved in the termination of Judy's internship, I ask you not to speculate and indulge yourself in too much fantasy," he wrote.

"I ask you to follow Luther's exhortation that we are to explain our neighbor's actions in the kindest light," he wrote. "We have a moral obligation not to gossip or participate in slanderous rumors.

"I think it is more appropriate that we pray for Judy and the church and also for me, your pastor, in what has become a difficult time."

Schmidt began her internship at Trinity three weeks ago, which explains, she said, why she went to her pastor about her broken engagement.

"Who else would I go to?" she said.

She trained over the summer for her ministry at her own cost. Her internship was to pay about $1,000 a month. What she will be paid now is under discussion.

Schmidt said she had scheduled a meeting with the assistant to the bishop of her home church in Illinois to discuss what she should do next. A dean at the Gettysburg seminary has asked her for a meeting as well, she said.

In the short time that she worked at Trinity, Schmidt said she developed great affection for many in the parish, putting 700 miles on her car as she traveled among them.

"The most difficult thing to deal with is the loss of my relationship to that congregation," she said. "I would make one helluva pastor."