The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) has released a new sexual ethics resource entitled Do No More Harm to assist those navigating the complexities of the complaint process in a more comprehensive way. The resource is available and can be found on the newly relaunched UM Sexual Ethics site on ResourceUMC at donomoreharm.org.
The resource clearly states that all forms of sexual misconduct by clergy and ministerial leaders, including laity, are chargeable offenses within the life of the Church. The United Methodist Church has committed to responding in ways that hold all parties accountable and promote healing. The formal complaint process is detailed in The Book of Discipline. However, navigating the complaint process can be daunting for those who file complaints or those in annual conference leadership who work to respond with care. Do No More Harm is an interactive, comprehensive resource that provides clear, detailed steps to help all parties navigate the complaint process as outlined in The Book of Discipline.
Throughout the resource, participants in the complaint process receive clear step-by-step guidance, learn what to expect from other participants in the complaint process, and view videos from various perspectives that highlight key parts in the complaint process. Do No More Harm also includes an updated flowchart and process summary to show what each role is responsible for throughout the complaint process.
Do No More Harm is a collaboration between Senior Director of Sexual Ethics and Advocacy Becky Posey Williams of GCSRW and ordained deacon Rev. Meg Lassiat of Church Systems Consulting. Williams has received feedback from complaintants and support persons wishing there was a resource that helped outline the complaint process to make it more accessible and easier to follow through all the steps of the process.
“I know this resource will provide much-needed information, answers, and support to anyone involved in the complaint process,” Becky Posey Williams said. “It invites The UMC to make every response fair and equitable to all parties involved. This will be a core value for our denomination. The outpouring of support from those who provided video statements, editing and production, and review team members has affirmed the decision to develop this resource. I am deeply appreciative to each of you.”
Director of Innovation for an Inclusive Church for the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church, Kristina Gonzalez, has served as a complainant’s support person during a formal complaint process. Gonzalez appears in Do No More Harm to share her perspectives.
“I want to congratulate the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women for developing this important resource,” Gonzalez stated. “Do No More Harm brings transparency to a process that is complex and difficult to navigate. For all parties concerned and for the Church in general, we must have resources that facilitate a path to justice. Knowledge is power.”
Bishop David Bard of the Michigan Annual Conference and Interim Bishop of the Minnesota Annual Conference also appears in Do No More Harm to offer an Episcopal perspective. He believes this resource will also be helpful for annual conference leadership to respond well to formal complaints regarding sexual misconduct.
“When harm is done or alleged in a ministerial relationship, the church seeks to respond with compassion and wisdom so as to repair harm, achieve accountability, and foster healing,” Bishop David Bard shared. “Do No More Harm is an extraordinary tool to help all persons involved, including conference leaders and cabinets, when there is a charge of sexual misconduct is made against a clergy person. This invaluable resource provides needed information, helpful guidance, and graceful encouragement for conference leaders. As such leaders, we want a response process that fits well with our goals of repair, accountability, and healing. Do No More Harm helps facilitate that.”
“The Church is committed to responding to Clergy Sexual Misconduct in a way that holds all parties accountable and promotes healing,” Bishop Tracy Smith Malone, Bishop of the East Ohio Annual Conference and President of GCSRW’s Board of Directors said. “This Do No More Harm resource provides a way for complainants and their support persons to have all the necessary information they need about the complaint process. This resource can equip and guide Bishops, District Superintendents, Conference leaders and annual conferences by helping them set the tone and establish their plan and approach for how they will respond to and handle complaints within their respective contexts. It will help leaders know and understand the responsibility of timelines and needed decisions at critical points throughout the complaint process and will offer practical ways for conference leaders to ensure that all parties involved in a complaint receive the information and support they need.”
Along with the release of the Do No More Harm resource, GCSRW is re-launching the UM Sexual Ethics site on ResourceUMC in partnership with United Methodist Communications (UMCOM). This collaboration will allow the UM Sexual Ethics site to be more user-friendly on both desktops and mobile devices. Individuals can access the re-launched site at umsexualethics.org.
“The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women is honored to work in collaboration with UMCOM in the launch of our new UM Sexual Ethics Website for The United Methodist Church and simultaneously in the launch of a much-needed resource for The UMC, Do No More Harm!” General Secretary Dawn Wiggins Hare stated. “In our continuing work to see and help others see each person as created in the image of God, the inequality of knowledge, resources, and information available to our most vulnerable became shockingly apparent. This resource developed under the leadership and vision of our Senior Director of Sexual Ethics and Advocacy, Becky Posey Williams, with our trusted colleague Meg Lassiat, is the initial installment of building equity and equality in the process and treatment of victims and survivors of sexual misconduct.”
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual misconduct within The United Methodist Church, GCSRW is here to support you. Please call our toll-free, confidential number at 1-800-523-8390 or email Becky Posey Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women advocates for full participation of women in the total life of The United Methodist Church. GCSRW helps the church recognize every person – clergy and lay, women and men, adults and children – as full and equal parts of God’s human family. They believe that a fully engaged and empowered membership is vital to The United Methodist Church’s mission "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”