Complaint resolved, but injustice continues

The complaint brought against Rev. Dr. Larry Sonner by the Appointive Cabinet of the Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church for celebrating the marriage of two women in October 2014 (reported in the November 20, 2014 article from KCCI) has been resolved.  The full text of the resolution can be read online.  Do No Harm’s response follows:

A resolution to the formal complaint against Rev. Dr. Larry Sonner has been signed by Larry, Bishop Trimble, and all members of the cabinet of the Iowa Annual Conference.  We celebrate that this resolution leaves Larry’s clergy credentials intact.  We give thanks for Larry’s courage, compassion, and commitment, demonstrated throughout his decades of ministry, in his decision to officiate the wedding between two women that initiated this complaint, and throughout this complaint process.

We acknowledge that this resolution reflects the best efforts of a group to come to a resolution that all persons in the room could live with.  We affirm the conversations, prayers, learning, and listening that unfolded in and through this process.  We affirm the sacred worth of each individual who participated in the process.

We insist there can be no “just” resolution within an unjust system.  The unjust policies and practices of the UMC discriminate against, silence, and shame LGBTQ people.  We grieve the harm done to LGBTQ people every day by the UMC. This harm extends to the families and friends of LGBTQ people, those discerning a call to ordained ministry in the UMC, and those who observe the Church’s oppression and discrimination.  The whole church is harmed by restraining clergy and laity from responding to God’s call to be in ministry with LGBTQ people.

We lament that even with this resolution, the Bishop and Appointive Cabinet of the Iowa Annual Conference refuse to acknowledge or take responsibility for that harm, as well as their complicity in perpetuating it.  We call upon the Bishop and Appointive Cabinet to use the power entrusted to them to effect justice for LGBTQ people, and the whole church.  We ask for your ongoing prayers, witness, discernment, and participation as we struggle together to actualize a church that welcomes, affirms, advocates for, and is in full ministry with LGBTQ people.