(A Just Resolution has been achieved in the complaint against the Rev. Dr. Larry Sonner. It was filed by the Appointive Cabinet following Dr. Sonner’s self-disclosure that he conducted a same-gender wedding in October 2014.)
Grace and peace to you as we journey in Christian discipleship in 2015.
One of the early prayers and initial responses to the formal complaint was that we would be “perfected in Christ love” and engage, rather than ignore, the difficulties the current conflict between what is prohibited in our Book of Discipline and what is legal and celebrated in Iowa.
The reactions to same-gender marriages and relationships and the serious subject of covenant accountability to church polity remind me of a Nigerian proverb: “Children of the same mother do not always agree!”
Questions and conflict regarding our future as a Church require much prayer, graceful conversations and decisions that may spell a different future for the Church.
I remain a prisoner of hope.
We are blessed to have leadership trained in Christian mediation in our Conference, including members of the current Appointive Cabinet. Following the complaint being initiated, (please refer to my November Pastoral letter) members of the Appointive Cabinet, Rev. Bill Poland (Assistant to the Bishop for Administration), and I had several conversations with Dr. Sonner, and Rev. Bill Cotton (who accompanied Dr. Sonner at his request). Through those heartfelt respectful conversations a Just Resolution was achieved
The content of our confidential conversations, which were part of disciplinary process, remain confidential. However, the full text of the Just Resolution is being posted to point toward further work to be done by all of us. We continue to be pulled toward the hard work of love amidst diversity of thought. At no point will we walk away from Jesus’ reminder, Matthew 22:37-40:
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Common English Bible (CEB)
When I was consecrated Bishop, I promised to work to uphold the unity of the Church. I believe that unity has, as its foundation, our love of God and neighbor. I also believe we can have unity of heart and not necessarily all be of one mind. While this Just Resolution is a response to a specific complaint, it recognizes the division of our church on the issue of human sexuality. This Just Resolution is an attempt to honor our disciplinary process, maintain accountability, and seek a deeper, more prayerful, listening to each other and, most of all, to God.
As your Bishop I invite you to join with me in a time of intentional listening to God and each other, remembering that as the Body of Christ, the Spirit can speak through each of us.
Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble