Sample Code of Ethics

Congregational leaders should:
  1. Provide spiritual guidance and teaching for congregants, congregational staff members, and members of the larger community.

  2. Treat staff and congregants with dignity and respect.

  3. Uphold integrity through honest communication.

  4. Nurture their personal religious life through prayer, meditation, and study.

  5. Maintain healthy boundaries with congregants by nurturing family relationships and/or friendships with others whom they do not also serve as religious leader.

  6. Refrain from making sexual overtures and engaging in sexual relationships (other than with one's spouse), or sexually harassing congregants, whether or not the leader and/or congregant is married.

  7. Be accountable to an identified supervisor or group of peers that conducts regular performance reviews, seeking input from members of the congregation.

  8. Avoid disclosing private information about congregants.

  9. Recognize the power dynamic in their role with congregants, using that power to seek the well being of those they serve and never for their own personal ends.

  10. Limit their professional role to pastor, teacher, or priest to avoid dual relationships and arbitrary boundaries with congregants.

  11. Provide time-limited pastoral care during times of crisis but avoid entering counseling relationships with congregants.

  12. Provide referrals to community agencies and professionals for congregants who need mental health or social services.

Related Resources

Evinger, James. (2008). Annotated bibliography of clergy sexual abuse. Retrieved on May 8, 2009, from