The UUMA Guidelines was first adopted in 1965,
and represents one of the most thorough codes for the practice of ministry
within the congregational church tradition.
contains several documents:
- A Preface and Introductory Essay on Ministry.
- A Code of Professional Practice. This is the ethical
code of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association. According to the bylaws of the UUMA, the
Executive Committee is charged with upholding and enforcing this Code.
- The Guidelines themselves. As implied by the name,
the Executive Committee is not bound by the UUMA bylaws to the same standard of
enforcement as with the Code. Frequently
Guidelines suggested are for congregations as well as ministers. However, the UUMA takes these Guidelines
seriously. Flagrant disregard of the
Guidelines by ministers can be cause for censure or other disciplinary action by
the Executive Committee.
The UUMA wants Guidelines to be a living
document. To that end we have made revisions from time to time. Some revisions have been editorial in nature,
correcting errors or making changes for clarity and simplicity. Some changed the tone of Guidelines to
reflect more strongly concern for the interests of the congregations we serve
or to reinforce our individual freedom and responsibility as ministers. And some attempt to alter or reform our
understanding and practice of ministry.
All but editorial changes have been made at annual meetings of the UUMA.
In June 1985, a broadly ranging set of revisions
affected many parts of Guidelines.
These included more specific affirmation of congregational polity as the
foundation of our ministry; use of covenantal language rather than that of
labor/management relations to speak of our responsibilities to congregations
and vice versa; specific counsel to retired ministers and part-time ministers
not to refer to themselves, nor to behave or think of themselves, as ministers
of a congregation unless duly called; new acknowledgments of maternity and
paternity needs; and the careful choice of gender inclusive language throughout
to reflect that ours is a ministry in which women and men serve our
congregations truly and fully on an equal basis.
Recent revisions have been narrowly focused. In 1985-87 we responded to the concern of
many members that Guidelines should speak specifically to the ethics of
our behavior as sexual beings in the ministry.
Amendments were proposed to the first three sections of our Code of
Professional Practice - Self, Colleagues and Congregation. All but one amendment were approved at the Annual
Meeting of 1987. The final amendment
pertained specifically to the responsibilities of single ministers. It was reconsidered, recast and then approved
in June 1988. The Guidelines Revision
Committee hoped by offering these amendments that in the process of considering
them as well as in their application, we would speak more often and openly with
each other about what it means for us to be sexual beings and ministers, the
energies involved and the decisions and ethics required.
In the 1988 revision a Canadian Supplement was added,
addressing the particular needs of those serving Canadian societies.
In 1990, a Professional Rights Procedure was added to
amplify and clarify the procedures involved when UUMA members bring grievances
against each other for violating the Code of Professional Practice.
In 1992, amendments and additions to the Code of
Professional Practice clarified the responsibilities that ministers who live
and practice in the same geographic area have to each other, and the
prerogatives due a settled parish-based minister called by the congregation
serving that geographic area.
In 1996, additions to the Code of Professional
Practice and the Guidelines delineated areas of non-discrimination to include:
race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or ethnicity. It was amended again in 1998 to include
In 2007, following the suggestion of the most recent
chapter to review the Guidelines, the UUMA Exec appointed an ad hoc committee
to review, redesign and rewrite the entire "Guidelines"
In 2008 changes to the Professional Rights Procedure
were passed. A timetable and process for a major Guidelines Revision was
approved. The document (known as Guidelines) was divided into three
primary sections: Covenant, Code of Conduct and Standards of Professional
At the 2009 UUMA Annual Meeting a new Covenant was
adopted and a new Code of Conduct was approved for a first year of study.
At the 2010 Annual Meeting the new Code of Conduct was
adopted and a new set of Standards of Professional Practice was approved for a
first year of study.
At the 2011 Annual Meeting in charlotte, the new Standards of Professional Practice were approved by the membership. The Guidelines Committee was also asked by members to continue a process that was started at least twenty years ago: Shaping and guiding the UUMA’s reflection and conversation regarding ministerial relationships in the ministerial setting. The excellent work done by previous Guidelines Committees bequeathed the Committee a challenging and clear agenda. At the 2012 UUMA meeting in Phoenix, members voted on Guidelines Committee recommendations and committed to a second year of study. The Committee reviewed and discussed chapter and individual feedback and presented recommendations to the 2013 Annual Meeting in Louisville that added to the Code of Conduct these words: "I will not engage in sexual contact, sexualized behavior, or a sexual relationship with any person I serve as a minister." Changes to the "Standards, II, G" were also accepted.
In all of this the UUMA has tried carefully to respond
to the needs and concerns of its members in order to reflect in Guidelines the
best insights and wisdom for an effective and successful ministry.
United in our call to
serve the spirit of love and justice through the vocation of ministry in the
liberal religious tradition,
we, the members of the
Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, covenant with one another:
• To conduct ourselves
with integrity, honoring the trust placed in us;
• To embody in our lives
the values that we proclaim on behalf of our faith;
• To support one another
in collegial respect and care,
understanding and honoring the diversity within our
• To hold ourselves accountable
to each other for the competent exercise of our vocation;
• To use our power
constructively and with intention,
mindful of our potential unconsciously to perpetuate
systems of oppression;
• To seek justice and
right relations according to our evolving collective wisdom,
and to refrain from all abuse or exploitation;
• To cultivate practices
of deepening awareness, understanding, humility, and commitment to our
• To labor earnestly
together for the well being of our communities
and the progress of Unitarian Universalism.
Through fidelity to this covenant and our Code of
Professional Conduct, we aspire to grow in wholeness, and bring hope and
healing to the world.
will be honest and diligent in my work to fulfill the offices of ministry
according to the stipulations of my call or employment and my best professional
will not misappropriate the money or property of the congregations, agencies or
enterprises I serve, or of their members, staff or clients.
the limitations of law, I will respect the confidentiality of private
communications from those to whom I minister.
will honor the intellectual property of others, assuring that appropriate
attribution is given to avoid intentionally creating the impression that the
work of others is my own.
will demonstrate respect and compassion without regard to race, color, class,
sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, physical or mental ability or
ethnicity. Such equitable treatment
shall be extended to all to whom I minister regardless of position in the
organization, including to those who may disagree with me.
will work to confront attitudes and practices of unjust discrimination on the
basis of race, color, class, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age,
physical or mental ability, or ethnicity,
and to challenge them within myself and in individuals, congregations,
and groups I serve.
will make myself a candidate for a pulpit or other position of ministry only
with serious intent, and I will observe the established candidating procedures
of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
will stay informed of the latest rules and policies of the UUA’s Ministerial
will not engage in public words or actions that degrade the vocation of
ministry, or diminish among us the esteem of our calling.
will not engage in sexual contact, sexualized behavior or a sexual relationship with any person I serve as a minister.
Expectations of Conduct
will share and support the concerns of the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s
Association, especially as reflected in the UUMA Covenant, Code and Standards.
Within the limitations of law, I will respect confidences given me by
colleagues and expect them to respect mine.
will not speak scornfully or in derogation of any colleague in public. In any private conversation concerning a
colleague, I will speak responsibly and temperately. I will not solicit or encourage negative
comments about a colleague or their ministry.
Expectations of Conduct apply to all forms of public or private media including
electronic and internet communications.
will seek consultation among my colleagues practicing the diverse forms of
parish-based and community-based ministry within the same geographical area, so
that we may develop a mutually agreed Letter of Understanding regarding our
several roles and the ways in which these may and may not intersect.
I am not a settled, interim or consulting minister of a congregation served by
a colleague, I will not offer, and will not accept requests for, ministerial
services or public leadership from members of that congregation, or in that
congregational context, unless I have a covenant with or until I have consulted
with the minister serving there.
my colleague asks me to refrain from performing such service or appearing in a
leadership capacity, I will comply.
emergency circumstances make advance consultation impossible, I will render only
limited service, and consult with my colleague at the earliest possible
I have occasion to perform ministerial or leadership functions, apart from
routine contact with members or clients of my current ministry, in contexts
where colleagues are serving, I will make an effort to communicate with those
colleagues, and to respect their professional prerogatives and be responsive to
of a congregation hosting District or UUA events will be assumed to have
invited colleagues to appear in leadership capacities at such events.
I am to share the ministry of a congregation with other ministers, I will seek
clear delineation of responsibility, authority, accountability and channels of
communication before responsibilities are assumed. I will thereafter work in cooperation and
consultation with my colleagues, taking care that changing roles and relations
are re-negotiated with clarity, respect and honesty.
will acknowledge the reality of power differences based on defined
responsibilities and authority within congregations, agencies or
enterprises. I will acknowledge the
reality of privilege arising from differences of social location and historical
marginalization. I will exercise the
power of my authority and the privileges of my social location in such a way
that I do not disadvantage my colleagues on the basis of my or their race,
color, class, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, physical or
mental ability or ethnicity.
a supervisor, I will recognize the special responsibility I have to colleagues
and staff who I supervise, and I will work justly and compassionately with the
authority given to me.
a minister in a role supervised by a senior colleague, I will work to support
my colleague's leadership and the success of our shared ministry.
my ministry to a congregation has ended, I will refrain from offering or
performing ministerial services for members of that congregation, except at the
invitation of my incumbent successor colleague(s).
I belong to or attend a congregation served by a colleague, I will honor the
prerogatives of that colleague’s responsibility for leadership in that
congregation, and in all ways seek to support that colleague’s ministry. I will initiate an open and direct
conversation with my colleague(s) in order to create a mutually agreed
covenant, expressed in a Letter of Understanding, about the role I am to play
in the church. If I am a member of a
congregation that I once served, this may include the possibility of absenting
myself from any presence at all. I will
articulate clearly my own hopes and expectations regarding my relationships in
the congregation, and my intention to avoid wielding any undue influence among
the members. I will only participate in
leadership roles that support and benefit the ministry, and at the request and
with the permission of the minister(s).
I will neither listen to nor volunteer criticisms of my colleague(s). As necessary I will describe appropriate
channels of communications to members seeking to express concerns.
I am a settled minister in a congregation having retired or other ministers as
members, I will seek to foster cordial and candid relations with my colleagues
in recognition of the value of their presence in the congregation. I will initiate an open and direct
conversation with my colleague(s) to enter a mutually agreed covenant,
expressed in a Letter of Understanding, about their participation in the life
of the congregation. I will bring any
concerns arising from the relationship my colleague(s) have with the
congregation directly and promptly to the attention of my colleague(s).
I am elected Minister Emeritus/a, I will recognize that this honor sustains a
continuing but changed relationship with the congregation I once served as one
of its ministers. I will initiate an
open and direct conversation with my successor colleague(s) to enter a mutually
agreed covenant, expressed in a Letter of Understanding, about the role I am to
play in the church. My successor
colleague may choose to include the congregation’s board of trustees in this
covenant process. I will honor the
prerogatives of my colleague’s responsibility for leadership, and in all ways
seek to support that colleague’s ministry.
I am a settled minister in a congregation that has elected a Minister
Emeritus/a, I will recognize the meaning of the honor that the congregation
has bestowed, and the significance of the continuing relationship of ministry
it implies. I will initiate an open and
direct conversation with my Emeritus/a colleague(s) to enter a mutually agreed
covenant, expressed in a Letter of Understanding, about their participation in
the life of the congregation. I will
bring any concerns arising from the relationship the Minister Emeritus/a has
with the congregation directly and promptly to that colleague’s attention.
discovery of ministerial misconduct and the healing of congregations, agencies
or enterprises that have experienced such misconduct, take priority over the
expectations of collegial courtesy.
calling attention to any deviation by my colleague(s) from this Code, I will
adhere to the processes described in Accountability, below. So doing will not be regarded as a failure of
The provisions of the Code of Conduct identify
standards of behavior for members of the UUMA.
Violation of these standards by any member is a matter of concern to
other members, and may result in disciplinary actions.
The following procedure is to be followed when a
member of the UUMA becomes concerned about a colleague’s adherence to the code.
and the Role of UUMA Good Offices
In most instances, a member who believes a colleague's
behavior to be inconsistent with the Code of Conduct should express their
concern directly. As an alternative, or
should the direct approach not achieve the desired result, a Chapter Good
Offices Person (GOP) should be consulted.
A GOP is initially neutral, advising the member, and exploring the
possibility of an informal resolution of the concern.
In the event that a Chapter GOP cannot settle a
concern between ministers, the minister or the Chapter GOP will seek advice or
intercession with the Continental GOP.
If the concern is still unresolved, the concerned minister should write
a letter of complaint to the Committee on Ethics and Collegiality (CEC), fully
specifying the nature of the concern making it a formal complaint.
of Complaints by the Council on Ethics and Collegiality
The CEC, working in consultation with the UUMA
Executive Committee’s GOP, will assess the complaint; invite communications
from involved UUMA members; make recommendations toward the resolution of the
complaint; and report to involved UUMA members and to the UUMA Executive
Committee that the complaint:
1) has been resolved at this stage, or
2) relates to disagreements about Standards that are not
3) is without foundation, or
4) should become a formal grievance, and be referred to
the UUMA Executive Committee.
GOP may continue to be involved in a consulting or pastoral role.
In dealing with complaints against a UUMA member
serving on the staff of the UUA related to actions undertaken in the line of
their duties, the CEC will:
1) advocate and practice forbearance;
2) consult with the appropriate supervisor at the UUA;
3) remain mindful of the complex roles and
responsibilities with congregations, agencies, enterprises and other parties
carried by such members of the UUMA.
of a Grievance by the Executive Committee
When a written complaint is referred by the CEC to the
UUMA President for consideration by the Executive Committee it becomes a formal
grievance. An action under this process
may also be initiated by the Executive Committee or the President of the
UUMA. Grievances will be acted upon as
1) In their fact-finding, discussion and actions in
response to grievances, the President and members of the Executive Committee
will be guided by four fundamental principles:
(b) caring for the persons involved;
(d) concern for the severity of the issues.
2) Consistent with these principles, members of the UUMA
bringing complaints and grievances, or against whom complaints and grievances
have been brought, are assured that collegial confidences will not be disclosed
by members of the CEC or the Executive Committee, except:
(a) as mandated by law;
(b) to prevent a clear and immediate danger to a person or
(c) where disclosure of a confidence may be required for
defense in a legal action between colleagues;
(d) if, and only to the extent that, there is a waiver
previously obtained in writing.
3) The Executive Committee shall notify the member in
writing of its intent to act on a grievance at least 30 days prior to its
meeting. The member may respond in
writing to the Executive Committee and/or attend the meeting in person. The member shall be offered reasonable
expenses to attend the meeting. If an
adverse action is taken, the member may make a final appeal to the next annual
meeting of the UUMA.
4) UUMA members shall have full access and full freedom
and right to respond to all evidence cited against them. In addition, they always have the right and
option of advisement by counsel at their own expense, but at no time can they
be represented by counsel in these proceedings.
5) The UUMA Executive Committee's action in response to a
grievance shall be in writing to the members involved, and will be in the form
of one the following actions:
(a) advice that the grievance is unfounded, or undeserving
of action in which case no public notice shall be made by the UUMA, or
(b) private caution, professional admonition or formal
reprimand in which case no public notice shall be made by the UUMA, or
(c) conditional probation, indefinite suspension or
removal from membership in the UUMA.
6) Any member against whom an action has been taken may
appeal to a meeting of the membership.
Such appeal must be made by certified mail to the President of the UUMA,
within thirty days of notification and no later than 45 days prior to the next
annual meeting of the UUMA. In such
cases the action of the Executive Committee shall stand until and unless
overturned by a vote of the UUMA membership.
Unless the action of the Executive Committee is overturned by the
membership, it shall become the official position of the UUMA, and be binding
on all members. The action of the
membership meeting shall be final.
7) If, and only if, an action consisting of probation,
suspension or removal has been taken, and no appeal has been made within thirty
days, or the appeal has been denied, notice of the action by the Executive
Committee shall be given promptly thereafter to the member’s congregation or
other employer and to the Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group of
the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee
and the membership of the UUMA.
1. The minister's life and vocation is to
reflect honesty, forthright love, leadership, and service.
2. Ministers are responsible to lead public
worship, nurture spiritual growth, and cultivate strong communities.
3. Ministers are to offer counsel and comfort,
and help people connect in order to encourage and support one another. Ministers must be clear on the limits of
their counseling skills and make referrals when there is need for more than
pastoral counseling unless they have specialized training.
4. In keeping with the tradition of intellectual
freedom in the pulpit and the pew, ministers are to preach and teach the truth
as they see it without fear, and with openness to new understanding.
5. Ministers are to show respect and compassion
for all people, and to summon communities to display to the world actions of
justice, peace, goodwill, and the ethical life.
6. The minister is to bear witness to the
realities of the world, the ideals of the common good, and the power of people
for love and change, endurance and delight.
7. In a parish setting, ministers are
responsible for assessing the needs and resources of congregations in the many
dimensions of community life, such as:
pastoral care and counseling;
rites of passage;
religious education (adults and children);
small group ministry;
social witness, concern, and action;
connections in the local community;
outreach and growth;
right relationships and community building;
District and UUA affairs.
8. The relationship of a congregation with its
minister(s) can only be understood with reference to both the autonomy and the
mutual accountability of congregational polity.
Therefore there can be no rigid standardization of parish-minister
relations. The conduct of a particular ministry must be determined by the
minister, the congregation, and/or other employing agencies or enterprises, in
accordance with particular talents and needs.
9. The UUMA Code of Professional Practice and
these Standards describe some disciplines important to congregational polity,
and to a professional ministry dedicated to serving congregations, agencies or
enterprises and larger communities well.
They are designed to facilitate understanding and discussion between
congregation or agency and minister, as well as among ministerial colleagues.
They represent the best thinking of the UUMA with regard to optimal agreements
and conditions, to be adapted by and for each setting of ministry.
10. Effective ministry and collegiality are
grounded in mutual trust and respect, rather than in even the best and most
scrupulously observed procedures. Adequate and actively used means of
communication must be a matter of shared and continuing concern for ministers,
congregations and agencies, and among ministerial colleagues.
11. The health and future of the ministry
requires the capacity of all ministers to recognize and confront exploitive or
destructive patterns of behavior in self and others. Collegiality includes a requirement to raise,
and to receive in good faith, concerns about actions and patterns of
interactions that damage ministerial integrity or effectiveness. Pursuit of such concerns is not a violation
of collegiality, but a duty that is part of its very essence. Appropriate methods for this kind of
collegial confrontation and support are outlined in the Code of Conduct section
titled "Accountability Procedures” and include the work of the Committee on
Ethics and Collegiality.
12. This document will be revised from time to
time. Ministers should be attentive to
these revisions as published by the UUMA.
The entire document should be reviewed periodically by a minister and
the appropriate congregation, agency or enterprise.
1. The history and expectation of the Unitarian
Universalist movement is that ministers are free to speak the truth as they
understand it. The long standing
tradition of freedom of the pulpit extends to ministers in all professional
settings. This freedom applies to both
spoken and written public statements.
2. The minister does not, however, necessarily
speak for either the institution or its members. It is the minister’s
responsibility to do everything possible to make clear when the minister is
speaking as an individual.
3. The pulpit carries institutional power and
credibility that should not be lightly dismissed. Ministers should maintain a clear
understanding with congregational leadership concerning the locus of authority
over the conduct of worship and pulpit presentations. Where the minister is solely charged with
that responsibility they should hold authority over how all services are
structured and how the pulpit is filled.
A minister with shared responsibility for pulpit and worship should
maintain an advisory relationship with those responsible for that work in the
1. Like any other person, the minister has a
need for a personal and private life. Privacy needs are not identical for any
two ministers, nor for one minister at different life stages.
2. The ways in which ministers and their
families conduct their private lives, choose their friends, spend their money,
rear their children and express their sexuality are private concerns. However,
there is a public facet to the minister’s life. Perceptions of the public will
have a bearing on the effectiveness of the ministry and therefore implications
for private choices.
3. The minister’s days off and vacation should
be regarded as time for personal use, except when an emergency requires the
minister’s immediate attention. Meetings in which the minister is expected to
participate should not be scheduled for the minister’s time off.
4. The nature of congregational ministry makes
the assurance of privacy particularly difficult. Since the health and happiness
of the minister and the minister’s family should be of concern to the
congregation, the congregation has an obligation to help protect their privacy.
Congregations can do this only when ministers make their specific needs and
desires known. Expression in these matters is especially important upon arrival
a new ministry. Otherwise the congregation may automatically adopt the patterns
of the last minister/congregation relationship.
5. Whether a minister lives in a parsonage, or
not, their home must be considered a private residence. It is not an extension
of the parish for use by congregational groups for institutional functions,
except at the specific invitation of the minister and their family.
1. Ministers should expect their spouse or
partner and children to be regarded and treated as individuals separate from
the work of ministry. At the same time
family members may be well advised to refrain from positions of visible
leadership or systemic influence.
2. Members of the minister’s family should be
allowed to participate in congregational activities free from expectation or
coercion, according to talent or interest. This might mean, in some cases, not
3. If the minister’s spouse or partner
participates in the congregation in such a way as to use professional or
employable skills (e.g., as RE Administrator), the spouse or partner should
have a separate contract and be compensated accordingly.
1. Parental Leave:
provision of parental leave should be considered when the minister’s Letter of
Agreement is composed. At least six
weeks of paid leave should be provided for either parent at the birth or
adoption of a child, with salary and all other benefits continuing during this
Ministers and congregations should be prepared to negotiate with flexibility
the details of this leave, including reduced duties, part time work, or longer
absence depending on the particular circumstances. Ministers may negotiate to use sabbatical,
vacation, or sick leave to extend their parental leave. Ministers may arrange for congregations to
avail themselves of extended internships, temporary or consulting ministries,
or assistance from the UUMA Chapter or other local ministers during the
minister’s absence. Ministers may help
to establish a special committee to facilitate the minister’s absence or
reduced duties before or after the arrival of a child.
minister should advise the Board of Trustees, the Committee on Ministry, and
others in leadership as soon as it is known that a child is to be added to the
family and the minister intends to take parental leave.
Ministers must take primary responsibility for educating the congregation about
plans for changes in their routines resulting from increased parental
2. Adoption should be handled on the same basis
as childbirth for the purposes of parental leave.
3. Medical complications during pregnancy or
following birth should be handled according to the policy which applies to
other medical disabilities.
4. To the extent that a congregation expects the
minister who is a parent of a young child/ren to attend events such as the UUA
General Assembly that require travel away from home, the cost of child care
during these events should be considered part of reimbursable professional
5. Ministers should be able to arrange for up to
12 weeks of unpaid leave in order to respond to illness or other disability of
their spouse or partner, parent, child, sibling, or member of their immediate
household. The minister should
communicate with congregational leadership, and to the extent possible take an
active role in arranging for the needs of the congregation to be met during
6. At least 7 days of paid bereavement leave
should be provided to a minister upon the death of their spouse or partner,
parent, child, sibling, or member of their immediate household. If additional time is required before
actively resuming ministerial duties, the minister should communicate with
their employer or congregational leadership to seek flexibility in arranging
that the needs of the institution be met.
Recognizing that ministers are called to nourish the health and
wholeness of the communities they serve, and recognizing the fiduciary nature
of our profession, and as stated in our actionable Code of Conduct, ministers
will not engage in sexual contact, sexualized behavior, or a sexual
relationship with any person they serve as a minister. The following are non-actionable best practices drawn from the wisdom of
much research across many religious organizations about what behaviors uphold
healthy religious communities and ministries. In the spirit not of legalism but
of deepening our understanding of loving, just, healthy relationships, these
guidelines point towards truths about the profession of ministry and healthy
ministerial conduct, understanding that no truth names the whole truth or
covers every situation. To that end, ministers should engage in discerning
dialogue with themselves and with their colleagues—to better understand what these best
practices mean in the context of each ministers’ own ministerial setting and in
the context of the collective ministry we all share.
will conduct their behavior concerning romantic relationships in accordance
with laws on ministerial misconduct.
2. In the case where a minister chooses to enter into a
romantic or sexual relationship with someone for whom they have served as a minister,
the minister needs to end the
ministerial relationship. Here are some recommended steps to take to avoid harm
while transitioning to a non-ministerial relationship:
a. Observe a significant period of time during which no
ministerial services are rendered before initiating such a relationship, for
example by resigning as minister or the other person leaving the faith
community or organization
b. Seek spiritual direction in addition to ongoing counsel from a
Good Officer or someone recommended by a Good Officer for a period of guidance
and discernment before entering into such a relationship
c. Fully discuss with the potential sexual partner the
implications for that person of a sexual relationship with the person who was
previously their minister, including the likely ramifications for that person’s
relationship with the congregation or worksite in which they met the minister
d. If still serving in the work site where the minister met the
potential sexual partner, fully disclose to the supervisors and/or relevant
Board at that work site that the relationship now exists, mindful that this
disclosure will change the dynamics of the congregation/work site as well as of
the ministry, potentially in negative ways that will persist beyond the
3. Refrain from asking communities they serve to
accept a succession of exploratory romantic relationships on the part of the
4. All ministers are guided additionally by the expectations
of the agencies or enterprises where they work, and by the standards of other
professional organizations to which they may belong, regarding the
establishment of sexual contact, sexualized behavior, or a sexual relationship
with any person served professionally.
5. In all cases, ministers must be careful not to take
advantage of those they serve, or damage the integrity of the congregation,
agency, or enterprise in which they serve. Ministers must always put the needs
of those they serve above meeting their own romantic or sexual needs.
who would like to initiate a romantic or sexual relationship with a ministerial
colleague must be mindful of power differentials in the relationship and always
act in ways that protect the well being and dignity of the colleague who is
more vulnerable. Ministers should not be in sexual relationships with
colleagues who are interns, associates, students, counselees, mentees, or
others under their direct or indirect supervision.
1. It is essential that if expectations for
congregational pledging or agency fundraising exist, they be stated and
clarified during the candidating process, since these expectations will
necessarily be part of the minister’s financial consideration.
ministers pledge to give as much as do people in similar circumstances.
Other ministers, perceiving their role to be that of a "lead giver,” choose to
make pace-setting gifts.
choose to pledge to the UUA or its affiliates instead.
Others see themselves as contributing in other ways, such as working for a
substantially lower salary than could be earned in secular work.
ministers choose not to pledge at all.
2. Unless it is otherwise agreed, the minister’s
contribution is to be handled with the same confidentiality as that of other
1. A Ministerial Relations Committee serves as
support and counsel to a minister, and as a communication channel between the
minister and the congregation or agency.
2. A Committee on Ministry pays attention to the
ministry of the congregation in the broad sense -- how well the congregation is
ministering to its members, the surrounding community, and the world -- its
professional ministers(s) being only part of the effort.
3. In either case, committee members should have
the confidence of the minister(s) and the congregation or agency.
1. It is
the minister’s responsibility to assess their own abilities, utilizing the
various tools and methods available through the UUA or other resources, and to continue their professional development. The minister should also be prepared to
assist congregations, agencies and enterprises they serve in developing
strengths and competencies within the institution and in its leaders.
Congregations, agencies and enterprises use varying mechanisms for
review. Each minister and institution must seek the means best suited to their
situation, potentially including:
a. Ministerial Fellowship Committee renewal process;
b. Mission/Vision assessment;
c. Peer review;
d. Systems theory analysis;
e. Policy Governance means and ends
f. The UUA "Assessing our Leadership”
g. 360 Degree performance evaluation;
h. Appreciative Inquiry
i. Other professional organizations’
accountability between laity and ministers for the health and well-being of the
institution’s ministry is an essential purpose of review and evaluation. Ministers achieve greater accountability when
there are regular reviews of their performance as measured by established
goals, and reviews of their Letters of Agreement or contracts, including
compensation. Congregations achieve
greater accountability when ministers are included in the regular review of
institutional performance, goals, and action plans. Such shared
review can benefit the personal and professional growth of the minister, give
strength and a sense of direction to the congregation or agency, and broaden
areas of communication and cooperation between them.
1. The tasks of ministry are too numerous for
one individual to fulfill. Successful ministry requires the effective use of
time by a minister. Ministers will
determine the emphases of their ministries, and the weekly and annual structure
of their time, on the basis of their interests and skills, as well as the needs
of the people and institutions they serve and the demands of love and justice
in the world.
2. Ministers are responsible for monitoring the
boundaries of their work and energy, and for educating those they serve as to
the structures of time that best protect their well-being and the quality of
their ministry. In general a minister
should be free to decide the organization and priorities of their own time, and
consult with the governing body of congregations and agencies and/or their
supervisors around these matters.
3. Provisions regarding professional service,
continuing education, General Assembly, vacation, planning and study leave, and
sabbatical should be set forth in the minister’s Letter of Agreement or
4. Various practices of deepening awareness,
understanding, humility, and commitment to one’s ideals are essential to the
religious life. Time devoted to these
practices is a necessary part of ministerial work.
Ministers must establish clear guidance about the best ways for staff,
congregational leaders and those they serve to reach them in ordinary
circumstances or in case of emergencies.
6. The Work Week in
Full-time ministry consists of no more than an average of 48 hours or 12
working units (morning, afternoon or evening) per week. Part-time ministries take a variety of forms
(as described Section 3d). Care should
be taken to specify the expectations of time for all ministries. Included in
this figure should be time for study and personal reflection, as well as
opportunities for access to the minister.
Attendance at meetings relevant to the congregation’s programs is part
of the minister’s working week. A minister should be expected to spend no more
than three nights per week involved in parish-related activities.
minister should have at least one regular, scheduled day off (including
minister should be offered the opportunity to be free of congregational
responsibilities at least one Sunday a month.
Congregations and ministers must seriously examine and come to a shared
understanding of their respective expectations concerning the ministers’
participation in parish calling, committee work and meetings.
Professional Service, Continuing Education & General Assembly
Professional Service: Ministers are often called upon to offer professional
service in settings outside their congregation, agency, or enterprise. These invitations may include:
2. The UUA or District
3. The UUMA
4. Other professional organizations
5. Local or national service organizations
6. Interfaith work
Continuing Education: Ministers are responsible for the ongoing development of
their skills and competencies through a continuing education plan.
Ministers and congregational leadership must jointly determine whether
attendance at District Meetings and UUA General Assembly constitutes either:
1. A meeting relevant to the congregation’s
program, and is considered normal working time, or
2. Professional service, or
3. Continuing Education.
In no case should attendance at
these events be considered vacation time.
Ministers should accept invitations for Professional Service and plan
Continuing Education in consultation with their institutional leadership. Up to four weeks per year should be allowed
for these activities.
minister shall be allowed no less than four weeks of vacation each year.
periods shall be agreed upon between the minister and institutional leadership
and need not be limited to summer months.
Vacation should be taken on a regular basis and not be allowed to
minister will be expected to return from vacation only for the most serious
matters constituting an institutional crisis. In the event the minister is
asked to return from vacation, travel expenses will be reimbursed.
the event of resignation or dismissal, earned vacation leave shall be paid by
the congregation, agency or enterprise.
9. Planning and Study Leave
minister shall be allowed no less than four weeks each year for planning,
study, and preparation for upcoming ministerial activities.
an institutional crisis occurs while a minister is traveling during planning
and study leave, additional costs of travel will be the minister’s
10. Sabbatical leave is an investment that the
congregation, agency or enterprise makes in the future of a ministry. Sabbatical
leave is to be used for the minister’s professional development, and is
expected to benefit the institution and/or the movement.
minister accrues one month of sabbatical leave each year, subject to the other
conditions set forth in this section.
Unless otherwise negotiated, no sabbatical leave is to be expected prior to
completion of four years of service.
Sabbatical leave may accrue up to a maximum of six months.
length of any given sabbatical is a matter for agreement of the institutional
leadership and the minister.
congregation, agency or enterprise and minister will jointly plan for
ministerial services during the sabbatical period.
f. If a
sabbatical fund is set up, it should be clearly stipulated whether it is for
the use of the minister.
is recommended that the sabbatical agreement refer to general conditions for
sabbatical leave. This should be supplemented by a letter composed by the
minister and institutional leadership that sets forth the detailed conditions
for each sabbatical.
sabbatical may be taken separately from or together with vacation periods.
minister shall not use sabbatical leave to search for another position, nor
accept one during this time.
action on ministerial evaluation, tenure or duties shall be pursued during a
minister shall receive full salary and housing allowance, as well as insurance
and pension benefits, during the sabbatical. The sabbatical agreement shall
specify how other normal ministerial allowances are to be handled.
minister will be expected to return from sabbatical only for the most serious
matters constituting an institutional crisis. In the event the minister is
asked to return from sabbatical, travel expenses will be reimbursed.
minister may be required to continue service to the congregation, agency or
enterprise for some specified period following a sabbatical. This period will
not be longer than one year.
the event of a resignation or dismissal, accrued sabbatical time shall not be
paid in financial equivalent.
1. Each minister should have a suitable,
furnished, sound-proofed, private office at the church, agency or enterprise or
such other building as may be appropriate.
2. The minister may choose to conduct certain
elements of their ministry from home.
3. It is wise for the minister to ensure that
someone else is present in the building while meeting with individuals.
4. Secretarial support is an essential need for
a minister; the ministry will be less effective to the extent that a minister
is expected to perform secretarial duties routinely.
5. The minister should not be expected to
perform custodial duties on a routine basis.
1. A harmonious and coordinated relationship
among staff members is important to the well-being of any congregation, agency
2. Ministers should publicly and privately act
with respect toward staff colleagues. Such behavior includes sharing of
pertinent information and insights, providing programmatic support, honoring
their professional abilities, respecting confidences, and giving public support
although not necessarily agreement.
3. Arrangements for accountability vary. In some
institutions the minister is head of staff. In others each member of the
professional staff works with an appropriate committee, or is supervised by
another member of the staff.
4. Ministers should encourage the staff to meet
regularly to discuss and coordinate planning and administration.
5. Ministers need to recognize that
inexperienced staff members will require additional time from them or other
staff for training and development.
6. It is the responsibility of the minister to
advocate for suitable compensation and benefits, fair working conditions and
policies, clear job descriptions, and periodic review and evaluation for all
7. Ministers should encourage congregations,
agencies and enterprises, when hiring staff, not to discriminate on account of
race, sex, color, class, ethnicity, national origin, age, physical or mental
ability, gender expression, or sexual orientation. However, the promotion of
diversity should be taken into account when choosing among well-qualified
8. Neither staff nor ministers should be required
to work where harassment creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive
environment. Ministers should educate institutions and their leadership to be
particularly aware of their responsibility to provide an environment free from
harassment based on race, sex, color, class, ethnicity, religion, national
origin, age, physical or mental ability, gender expression, or sexual
1. Members of the UUMA support one another in
expecting just compensation for professional services. The UUMA endorses the Fair Compensation
Guidelines of the UUA, including recommended benefits as minimum standards.
2. The minister in a multiple staff
congregation, agency or enterprise who has primary responsibility for the
general direction and ministry of the institution should receive compensation
commensurate with this larger and particularly sensitive responsibility.
3. A scale of fees for ministerial services,
such as weddings, memorial services and supply preaching, will be maintained by
the UUMA Executive Committee. Revisions
to this scale will be periodically presented by the Executive Committee for
review and adoption by the membership.
annual process of determining ministerial compensation should be conducted with
discretion and dignity. Budgetary
deficits should not, except as a last resort, be covered by decreasing the
minister’s agreed-upon compensation.
5. Any overt linkage of ministerial compensation
to new or increased pledges and contributions should be avoided, as it may
distort the minister’s relationship with the congregation and their commitment
to serve people regardless of economic status.
1. Wherever possible and feasible, the minister
should be allowed to select their own housing, and the privacy of that
residence should be respected.
2. In the U.S., part of a minister’s total
compensation is a tax-exempt housing allowance, as defined by the I.R.S. It is
best for the amount to be established by an annual vote of the board or
3. If a parsonage exists and the minister
chooses to live there, certain understandings should be clearly established:
and by whom routine maintenance is to be performed;
and by whom repairs and improvements are to be decided, and paid for; and,
respect for the privacy of the minister and family.
4. If the ministry ends by reason of the
minister’s death or disability, the parsonage should be available for the
family’s continued use for at least six months.
1. Each congregation, agency or enterprise
should provide the minister with benefits commensurate with the recommendations
of the UUA Compensation Guidelines.
These should include health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance,
pension and contribution in lieu of employer’s FICA. The UUA Contributory
Pension Plan is currently available through the Association. However, ministers
may be enrolled in other pension plans.
2. Because personal situations vary, benefit
packages should be structured to reflect the needs of individual ministers.
3. In the event of disability, payments for
salary and housing, contribution in lieu of FICA, insurance premiums, and
pension contributions ought to be continued for six months or until disability
insurance begins, if sooner.
4. Benefits for the minister and for all
employees should appear in a budgetary category separate from salaries. Unless otherwise required, these should be
paid directly by the congregation, agency or enterprise.
5. Beyond traditional honoraria, ministers
should be cautious about the propriety of accepting personal gifts. Care should be taken to avoid the appearance
or reality of exploitation or undue influence.
1. It is the responsibility of the congregation
or agency to provide for the expenses incurred in performance of its ministry.
Ministers should be fully reimbursed for such expenses incurred in the course
of their work. Funds sufficient for
these expenses should be budgeted in a category separate from both salary and
2. Funds designated as professional allowances
should be spent within broad categories. Such categories may include, but are
not limited to: Books, periodicals, meetings, conferences, continuing
education, hospitality, equipment, computers, software, communications
technology, travel, transportation and child care related to professional
3. For all such expenditures, the minister
should present an itemized account for reimbursement.
4. The minimum conferences a minister may wish
to attend include General Assembly, district annual meetings, ministerial
gatherings and institutes at local, district and continental levels. All expenses should be paid out of
professional expenses provided by the congregation, agency or enterprise for
attendance at these events.
1. The goals of ministry are rarely achieved
through isolated endeavor. Ministers may
a. serving as colleagues in the same congregation, agency
b. serving as colleagues in different congregations,
agencies or enterprises in the same community;
c. attending, belonging to or working with
congregations, agencies or enterprises served by other ministers.
2. Congregations, agencies or enterprises
benefit when ministers relate to each other in ways that model:
and systems awareness;
mutual respect, care and accountability;
shared commitment to the well-being of congregations, agencies, enterprises and
the UU movement.
3. Congregations, agencies or enterprises suffer
when ministers relate to each other in ways that foster:
ambiguity of roles;
division of loyalties;
sense of suspicion, secrecy, self-pity or unhealthy competition.
Collegial relationships are expected to be professionally sensitive,
respectful, and supportive. It is
beneficial to collegial relationships for all members of the UUMA to attend
chapter and cluster meetings and to welcome each other warmly at these
Members and other retired ministers are appreciated at chapter and cluster
events as they choose to participate.
encouraging the participation of Community and Part-Time Ministers at chapter
and cluster events, colleagues should recognize the challenges that such
attendance represents and should facilitate the presence of these colleagues
with the goal of maximizing inclusiveness.
Ministers in nearby congregations should recognize the challenges that interim
ministers may confront in making collegial connections and help facilitate
those connections when possible. Interim
ministers and their colleagues all benefit from when interim ministers attend
UUMA chapter and cluster meetings and cultivate collegial connections.
5. Any minister who joins or participates in a
congregation, agency or enterprise other than the one they serve, should recognize the authority other members may
yield to them and exercise such influence cautiously and only as it supports the work of the current minister(s).
1. All ministers should understand, periodically
review, and renegotiate when necessary, the document that sets forth their
relationship with the congregation, agency or enterprise that calls or employs
2. All ministers serving together in the same
congregation, agency or enterprise should develop written documents
articulating the covenant of relationship and responsibility with the other
minister(s) in that setting. These
documents should be periodically reviewed, and renegotiated when necessary.
3. Collegial relationships between ministers
serving together in the same congregation, agency or enterprise should be
support for the success of one another’s ministries;
shared loyalty to the well-being of their congregations, agencies or
commitment to good communication;
clarity regarding the assignment of roles, responsibilities and authority.
4. Each minister, regardless of role, is
entitled to all protections, rights and courtesies, and is bound by all
collegial expectations, as defined in the UUMA Covenant, Code of Professional
Practice and in these Standards.
5. Multiple ministers serving the same congregation,
agency or enterprise are most likely to work effectively together if the
structures of their roles are clearly articulated before these relationships
begin, at the time of search, hire, call or affiliation. Structural elements may include, but are not
has what degree of accountability for articulating the mission, vision or
direction of the congregation, agency or enterprise;
whether the position represents a call by the congregation, hiring by the
institutional leadership, or by a minister already on staff;
whether the position has the potential to become a called ministry, and if so
how and by whom that decision is to be made;
and by whom and for what reasons the decision can be made to end the minister’s
tenure in the position;
conflict between the minister and the congregation, or with other ministers
working in the same setting, will be addressed;
the lines of accountability, reporting, and supervision are.
6. Should conflict arise between ministers
serving together in the same congregation, agency or enterprise, every effort
should be made to preserve the well-being of the institution. Provisions for this eventuality should be
specified in the Letter of Agreement, contract
or Letter of Affiliation between the congregation, agency or enterprise and the
minister, and these provisions should be adhered to. In most instances Chapter Good Offices should
7. As indicated in the Code of Professional
Practice, ministers who function as supervisors to colleagues serving in the
congregation, agency or enterprise have special responsibilities to those they
conformity to the UUMA Code of Professional Practice;
awareness of a supervisee’s job description and terms of employment;
creation and maintenance of a written list of mutually understood expectations;
self-awareness of power differentials that may exist between supervisor and
dependable opportunities for collegial consultation and communication;
recognition of privilege arising from differences of social location and
historical marginalization, and advocacy to address the ways these conditions
may affect a colleague’s ability to fulfill their ministry;
regular review and evaluation of the supervisee’s job performance based on
written job descriptions and expectations;
advocacy for a colleague’s suitable working conditions;
recognition of a colleague’s efforts, successes and accomplishments;
clarity in long range plans and directions that may affect a colleague’s
deflecting or countering unwarranted criticism or interference in the
performance of the supervisee’s ministry;
support for the colleague’s professional development and future career.
8. Ministers who serve together without
supervisory relationships should consider which of these obligations apply to
9. As indicated in the Code of Professional
Practice, ministers who are supervised by colleagues serving the same
congregation, agency or enterprise have special responsibilities to their
conformation to the UUMA Code of Professional Practice;
awareness of one’s job description and terms of employment;
creation and maintenance of a written list of mutually understood expectations;
awareness of power differentials that may exist between supervisor and
regular collegial consultation and communication;
recognition of privilege arising from differences of social location and
historical marginalization, and advocacy to address of the ways these
conditions may affect a colleague’s ability to fulfill their ministry;
participation in regular review and evaluation of one’s job performance based
on written job descriptions and expectations;
clarity about conditions necessary for the performance of one’s ministry;
support to the organization served by adhering to the established lines of
authority and keeping disagreements with supervisors between colleagues when asked.
Community Ministers are urged formally to affiliate with a congregation in
order to ground themselves in the support and accountability of a Unitarian
Universalist covenantal community.
2. In congregations served by a Parish Minister,
the Community Minister should initiate the application for affiliation through
that colleague. Ministers serving congregations have a collegial obligation to
encourage the congregation to prepare a process through which to respond to
applications for affiliation from community ministers. In the absence of this process,
congregational ministers should respond with thoughtful consideration to
requests for affiliation.
3. Where the congregation is served by a Parish
Minister, such affiliation should be based upon mutual respect and a clear
understanding between the Parish Minister(s) and the Community Minister(s) of
their expectations of one another, expressed in a Letter of Understanding which
should be reviewed by the ministers periodically.
4. Community Ministers seeking to affiliate with
a congregation not currently served by a minister should make their application
through the congregation’s governing body.
5. Affiliations established between a Community
Minister and a congregation should be expressed in a Letter of Affiliation
financial support, if any;
possible establishment of, or inclusion in, a Committee on Ministry or
Ministerial Relations Committee;
reasonable expectations of participation or service to the congregation by the
Community Minister, if any;
d. any other expectations between the congregation and
the Community Minister;
e. that the community minister will
scrupulously follow established processes of the UUA Transitions office if they
should pursue other ministerial positions in their affiliated congregation.
6. An affiliation established between a
Community Minister and a congregation endures beyond the tenure of any minister
of that congregation, and should be made known to any future interim minister
and ministerial candidates.
7. All ministers shall respect the work of any
Community Minister who is a member of the congregation that they serve
regardless of whether the Community Minister affiliates with that congregation
8. All ministers should keep Community Ministers
apprised of actions they take that may bear on the work of the Community
9. Community Ministers shall respect the
integrity of the relationship between members of a congregation served by a
colleague and that colleague. Parish
Ministers shall respect the integrity of the relationship community ministers
have with the individuals they engage in their ministries. Within the limits of professional
confidentiality, if any minister has occasion to offer ministerial services to
someone known or discovered to be in a professional relationship with a
colleague, they should notify that minister about that occasion.
10. Ministers serving nearby congregations should
recognize the challenges that community ministers may confront in making
collegial connections and help facilitate those connections when possible.
Community ministers and their colleagues all benefit from when community
ministers attend UUMA chapter and cluster meetings and cultivate collegial
1. Congregations, agencies or enterprises may
call or hire a minister to serve alone in a part-time position. Congregations, agencies or enterprises
seeking additional ministry may create a part-time ministry position in
addition to existing full or part-time ministries.
Part-time Ministers are entitled to all protections, rights and courtesies, and
are bound by all collegial expectations, as defined in the UUMA Covenant, Code
of Professional Practice and in these Standards.
Financial support for the part-time ministry should reflect proportionally the
full-time UUA Compensation and Benefit Standards and paid time off.
4. The responsibilities of a part-time minister
should be described fully and carefully in writing at the time of hire or call.
5. These agreements should call for a specific
amount of the minister’s time to be given to the congregation, agency or
enterprise including time for study, reflection, and planning for institutional
crises. To the extent possible, working days and hours should be specified and
respected by the institution, the part time minister and any other ministers
serving the institution. Ministers should not be expected to attend meetings or
events scheduled outside of agreed working hours.
6. The agreement should also address the
part-time minister cannot be expected to do all that a full-time minister
does. A clear division of
responsibility should be maintained and regularly renegotiated and affirmed,
between the part-time minister, institutional leadership, and any other ministers serving the congregation, agency or
well-being of both congregation, agency or enterprise and the minister depends
upon their mutual ability to deal creatively and flexibly with frustrations
that may result from the discovery that there is always more to be done than
the scope of "part-time,” however defined, will allow.
Since many part-time ministries may be part of fairly complex arrangements,
procedures need to be established for renegotiating hours and duties as
experience indicates. The work of a Committee on Ministry or Ministerial
Relations Committee is often essential in part-time ministries.
7. Any service to a second congregation or other
employment should be discussed in advance with
institutional leadership and any other ministers serving the congregation,
agency or enterprise, along with any expectations the institution may have
concerning the nature of further employment.
8. If the minister understands the part-time
ministry as a step towards a full-time position, this expectation should be
described in writing along with the necessary conditions, and a timetable for
renegotiating the agreement should be spelled out.
9. If either the minister or the congregation,
agency or enterprise does not wish the part-time minister to be a candidate for
its full-time ministry position in the future, this should be stated clearly at
the time of call or hire.
1. All ministers should respect the unique
expertise of Interim Ministers, be supportive of their work, and recognize the
special challenges of the period of transition.
2. Interim Ministers are entitled to all
protections, rights and courtesies, and are bound by collegial expectations
defined in the Covenant, Code and Standards of the UUMA.
3. There are relationships between ministers and
congregations, agencies and enterprises that endure beyond the tenure of any
particular minister. Interim Ministers
are expected to acknowledge and respect these relationships and not disrupt
them arbitrarily. Colleagues in enduring
relationships with congregations in transition are expected to support the work
of the Interim Minister. These enduring relationships include:
Emeritus status as voted by the congregation;
Affiliation status of Community Minister(s); and,
congregational call of other ministers.
4. There are other ministerial relationships
that are contractual and may not be enduring in nature.
interim ministers contemplate taking actions that will affect any of these
relationships or bring them under congregational scrutiny they are expected to
abide by any Letters of Agreement or contracts in effect and encouraged to seek
guidance from chapter Good Officers. In
addition, an interim minister may consult with the
District Executive and the UUA Transitions Office.
1. Ministers and students preparing for the
ministry have much to offer each other in comradeship, encouragement and the
exchange of ideas and experience.
Discernment of fitness for ministry, and the nurture, support and
training of future of colleagues are responsibilities of all ministers.
2. It is important that students become
acquainted with the culture of Unitarian Universalism by being involved in the
life of one or more congregations, interning at a Unitarian Universalist
setting and attending UUMA Chapter Meetings and, if possible, UUA General
3. It is important as well for UUMA members to
behave toward students in candidate status with collegial respect, openness and hospitality, including at chapter
4. Ministers should be careful not to exploit
their greater power relative to students, including interns.
5. Students in candidate status, who become
members of the UUMA, are responsible for making themselves familiar with and
abiding by the provisions of the UUMA Covenant, Code and Standards. This represents a change in role and status
that will alter the nature of the students’ relationships with both lay people
and ministerial colleagues.
6. Part of preparation for ministry entails
understanding and respect for the demands and constraints on a working
1. In general, the future well-being of a
congregation, agency or enterprise is best assured by the fully effective
departure from leadership of any minister whose service to that institution has
2. Congregations are especially vulnerable in
periods of ministerial transition.
Therefore, departing ministers should exercise particular care to
minimize their influence and presence within the congregation, agency or
enterprise and their interactions with members, staff and clients during times
3. There should be no intentional or ministerial
contact between a departing minister and members, staff or clients of
congregations, agencies or enterprises they have served until there can be a
covenant expressed in a Letter of Understanding between predecessor and
subsequent ministers. In those uncommon
cases where personal or familial relationships persist, care should be taken to
assure that those relationships do not have a negative impact on the
institution or on subsequent ministries.
4. Experience has shown that over the long term
a congregation and a previous minister may benefit from that minister’s
continuing participation as a member of the congregation after their
professional leadership to that community has ended. Predecessor and subsequent colleagues should
adopt covenants expressed in a Letter of Understanding defining the nature and
limits of this participation.
5. Unless the departed minister chooses to
suspend all contact and participation in the congregation during the period of
an interim ministry, the Letter of Agreement with the Interim Minister must be understood to be limited only to the period
of the interim ministry. It is the
responsibility of both parties to make it known to the congregation that the
agreement is limited and that the provisions of the agreement with subsequent
colleagues may be significantly different.
6. The provisions of this covenant should be
arrived at through conversation and negotiation with an understanding that the
well-being of the congregation and the new ministry is of primary importance. When disagreements persist, Good Offices may
be employed, but ultimately the judgment of the new minister shall
prevail. It is the responsibility of the
involved ministers to inform the congregation of this covenant.
7. If either a predecessor or successor minister
believes that this covenant is not being effectively maintained, then they
should engage their colleague and seek reaffirmation or renegotiation of that
covenant with consideration for the delicacy of the current minister’s role. Should this effort not resolve the concern,
Good Offices should be consulted, and with the recommendation of the Good
Officer the matter may be referred to the Committee on Ethics and Collegiality.
8. A departing minister may be expected to
discontinue all contact with the congregation, agency or enterprise, its
members and staff if:
former ministry involved established misconduct;
departed minister violates the UUMA Code of Conduct; or
departed minister intentionally violates the terms of the covenant with the new
9. It is good practice for a minister to prepare
family members to understand that a change in the minister’s relationship with
a congregation, agency or enterprise may affect them all, and may mean the end
of ties that family members may have with that institution. It is politically wise and collegially
generous for a successor minister to reach out pastorally to the family of the
predecessor minister if they remain in the congregation or community.
10. When a minister is no longer a member of the
UUMA, and is no longer bound by the Code of Professional Practice, the nature
of the previous professional relationship with the people of a congregation or
the clients of an agency or enterprise should not be exploited in the
solicitation or conduct of their subsequent employment.
11. When a minister leaves a congregation for
community ministry, they should not solicit members or presume upon a
relationship they had with their former congregation until they have an
opportunity to establish a covenant with the new minister of that congregation.
In the absence of a new minister the covenant should be established with the
leadership of the governing body of the congregation.
12. In all cases, ministers must continue to
respect the confidences granted and the information about individuals gained in
congregations, agencies or enterprises they once served.
1. Emeritus/a status may be granted by vote of
a congregation, or agency leadership, at the completion of a minister’s long
and faithful service in that setting. Typically, the Minister Emeritus/a is
entitled to a circumscribed continuing place in the life of the congregation or
agency, although the minister may go on to serve in other positions elsewhere.
2. Relationships between congregations or
agencies and their Ministers Emeriti/ae vary in expectation and practice.
These relationships may include some or all of the following:
gift from the congregation;
recognition by the UUA;
delegate credential for General Assembly;
inclusion on the list of the congregation’s staff on letterhead, etc.;
ceremonial presence at major institutional events; such as anniversaries,
building dedications, etc.;
occasional invitations to appear in the pulpit;
access to the institutional library or archives for research;
small expense allowance for professional pursuits;
of office space;
opportunity to purchase, or continued residence in, a church-owned parsonage.
3. The nature of the relationship should be
carefully considered and agreed upon in writing by the congregation or agency
and the minister. This agreement should
be included in the Declaration of Emeritus/a status voted by the congregation
or agency. This Declaration should be
made known to the congregation or agency, as well as to any future ministerial
4. The role of Minister Emeritus/a must be
exercised in such a way as to support the well-being of the congregation and
the success of future ministers.
5. All expectations in the Code of Professional
Conduct and the section of the Standards regarding "Departing Ministers” apply
to Ministers Emeriti/ae, except as specified in the Declaration granting
Emeritus/a status. The declaration,
however, cannot over-ride the expectation of a covenant, expressed in a Letter
of Understanding, with any successor colleague.
1. The UUMA supports the settlement procedures
described in the UUA Handbooks on Ministerial Settlement and on Interim and
Consulting Ministries, and calls upon our members to abide by them.
2. The UUMA endorses the UUA policy of
non-discrimination in employment.
Ministers should expect congregations not to discriminate on account of
race, color, class, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, mental and
physical ability, national origin or ethnicity, except for the promotion of
diversity when choosing among well-qualified candidates.
3. Ministers in search should expect the leaders
of a congregation to have developed among members an explicit sense of common
direction before search begins. Attempts to use pre-candidating and candidating
procedures as a device for dealing with divisions among the members of a congregation
are unfair to the candidate and may even seriously damage their career as well
as the congregation.
4. Ministers in search should be candid in
presenting themselves, past problems and achievements, and the reasons for
wanting to serve a new congregation.
They should expect the congregation to be equally forthright in its
presentation to candidates and potential candidates. Truthfulness is particularly important in the
following matters: resources, number of members, financial position and activities,
past problems and achievements. The congregation should be completely candid
with reference to the previous minister’s departure. The candidate should be
5. When a minister has accepted a search
committee’s invitation to participate in a pre-candidating weekend, that
pre-candidate is understood to have a commitment to appear in the neutral
pulpit as arranged, regardless of the offers they may have received from, or
preferences they may feel for, other congregations. At a minimum, if the
pre-candidate cancels their scheduled appearance, they are obligated to arrange
for, and compensate, a substitute preacher. If the pre-candidating
weekend is canceled by the search committee, it is that committee’s
responsibility to arrange for the filling of the neutral pulpit.
6. Candidates should expect the congregation to
be clear about their needs, and resources for the provision of financial
support and supportive assistance for the work of ministry. Candidates should
be prepared to discuss their financial needs and expectations and how their
compensation package should be structured.
7. Substantial accord on major issues relative
to the Letter of Agreement should precede the candidating week.
8. Before accepting a position in a
congregation, agency or enterprise with more than one minister, a candidate
should engage in discussion with colleagues who will work together, giving
careful thought to lines of authority and responsibility. These structures should be well articulated.
9. When another minister is being called, a
minister continuing to serve in a multi-minister congregation, agency or
enterprise should expect to be consulted by the Search Committee, or in some
circumstances to serve on it.
10. The minister’s spouse or partner should be
present for at least a part of the candidating period. The congregation should
assume all financial commitments related to this visit.
11. During the candidating week, time should be
available for connections with UUMA colleagues.
Members of the Search Committee should not participate in such events.
1. The size and resources of our congregations
vary, as do the needs of ministers and their families when the expenses of the
minister’s move to a new location must be met.
Of greatest importance is that any agreement reached with the newly
called minister be written in detail to avoid possible hurt and confusion at
the onset of a ministry, especially since it is not uncommon for changes in
budget and congregational officers to occur between the time a minister is
called and the time when they actually move.
2. A newly called minister should expect a
detailed written agreement regarding moving expenses. This should be negotiated
before the candidating week takes place.
Items to be noted should include:
total amount budgeted by the congregation for moving expenses;
contracts any commercial moving services;
precisely what fees for assistance are allowable;
miles of travel per day;
and lodging costs;
is to help and how;
ample insurance to cover damage to furniture and other possessions; and,
schedule for advances and/or reimbursement of all expenses.
1. The covenant between a minister and a
congregation takes the form of an exchange of letters following the vote to
call. It is essential that the
congregation issue such a Letter of Agreement, and that the minister respond in
writing. Items for consideration are extensively covered in the appendices,
which should be read with care.
2. The written Letter of Agreement should
describe expectations and obligations of congregation and minister, and should
be reviewed periodically.
3. The Letter of Agreement should be understood
as a commitment of mutual service and support and not as a detailed contractual
arrangement. The language in the Letter
of Agreement should reflect the dignity of the congregation and the ministry,
clearly leaving to the minister wide professional discretion in the exercise of
the calling, and at the same time clearly spelling out the kinds of services
required and the means of accountability to the congregation.
4. In general the Letter of Agreement will be
drawn up by a negotiating team in conversation with the candidate. The candidate may invite the assistance of a
Good Offices Person or another colleague in that conversation.
5. In all cases the minister and the appropriate
and empowered congregational body should agree to the terms of the Letter of
Agreement before the congregation's call to service is issued or accepted.
6. The congregation’s call to service, as
expressed in the Letter of Agreement, can only be terminated by a subsequent
vote of the congregation, according to its by-laws, or by the resignation of
1. Congregations, agencies, and enterprises may
enter into relationships of ministry that do not constitute a covenant of
call. These employment agreements take
the form of a contract between the minister and the governing body of the
institution establishing the rites and functions normally associated with
2. Contracts should specify expectations and
obligations of the minister and the institution, as covered in Section II,
Ministers Expectations of Institutions They Serve; including (but not limited
b. Professional Expenses
c. Working hours
d. Vacation, Study Leave, Sabbatical, Continuing
Education and Professional Service.
h. Expected duration of the ministry
i. Cause and procedure for termination
3. If the
minister understands the contract ministry as a step towards a called position
in the congregation, this expectation should be described in writing along with
all necessary conditions for that change.
4. The contractual employment of a minister can
be terminated by:
expiration of the established duration of the ministry;
action of the governing body of the institution;
action according to the terms of the contract; or
resignation of the minister.
1. The minister should work with the governing
body and the search committee to identify a process of communication for that
fosters realistic mutual expectations for the initiation of the new
2. The minister, the governing body and the
search committee should decide on a time for the search committee to celebrate
and disband, and what continuing role the members of the search committee may
have in facilitating the new minister’s settlement.
1. The minister should relate in confidence to a
responsible congregational official (usually the president or a chair of the
Committee on Ministry or the Ministerial Relations Committee) when the minister
has accepted an invitation to precandidate in another congregation or agency,
or when a firm date for retirement or resignation has been decided.
2. The governing body should be informed of the
minister’s decision to candidate for another position, or when a minister's
decision to retire or resign is to be made public.
3. Upon acceptance of the call from another
congregation or agency, the minister and governing body should confer with
regard to the most constructive manner of informing the congregation.
4. A date for the end of active ministry in the
congregation or agency should be agreed upon by the minister and governing
body. Until that date, the minister can
(and often should) help the leaders to prepare for the vacancy in the
ministry. This may include educating
members about interim, candidating and settlement procedures, including the
importance of early consultations between representatives of the congregation
and the District Executive, the Ministerial Settlement Representative and the
Transitions Office. However, departing
ministers must take no direct role in structuring the search process.
5. It is generally inadvisable for any minister to suggest or comment on candidates to serve
as successor. If
a congregation, and its minister, agree to engage in succession planning, this
must occur before the timing of the minister’s departure is shared.
1. The following procedure is designed primarily
for congregational settings. However,
some of these provisions may usefully be applied by ministers departing from
other agencies or enterprises.
2. When conflict in the congregation, agency or
enterprise, reaches a significant level of severity, ministers should consult
with Good Offices and draw upon the resources of the UUA and its field staff.
3. When a settlement seems to be in imminent
danger of ending because of discord, the minister and the congregation, agency or
enterprise, may need to choose between a vote to dismiss or negotiating a
resignation. While it may, in some
instances, be to the benefit of the institution to go through a painful process
of a vote to terminate, often the interests of both the institution and the
minister are better served by negotiating the minister’s resignation. Such a decision and the ensuing negotiations
will benefit from the advice of Good Offices and the District Executive, each
attempting to facilitate a solution that serves the interests of all parties.
4. Ministers should strive to end their tenure
of leadership in a congregation, agency or enterprise, in such a way as to
protect the well-being of the institution, and not contribute to needless
polarization within it.
5. In the event of a negotiated resignation,
unless otherwise provided in the Letter of
Agreement, salary, parsonage use or housing
allowance, and benefits, although not professional expenses, are expected to
continue at the same level for the longer of three months or one month for each
full year of service up to eight months from the date of a negotiated
resignation, or until the minister has found another position, if sooner. Minimal contractual obligations should apply
in the case of criminal malfeasance or of an acknowledged violation of the Code
of Professional Conduct directly injuring the involved institution.
6. Although a Letter of Agreement may call for a
specified period for notice of resignation, the minister and governing body may
agree to an earlier cessation of ministerial activities while the minister is
still receiving compensation and benefits.
7. In negotiating a resignation, ministers
should not propose or accept an arrangement whereby the terms may not be
8. When the future of the ministry is to be
submitted to a vote of the congregation, ministers should be aware of the
provisions of congregational bylaws and their Letter of Agreement, and insist
that these be followed.
9. Following a vote to dismiss, the minister
should withdraw from all active participation in the congregation, agency or
enterprise for the rest of the severance period.
10. In the event of dismissal the minister should
expect any accrued vacation to be compensated in the financial equivalent, but
the minister should not expect any accrued sabbatical leave to be compensated.
For the Guidance of Ministers
Serving Canadian Congregations
This supplement has
been prepared to reflect the differences in the law and in social benefits
between Canada and the US as they affect ministers entering into agreements
with Canadian congregations.
Although Canadians and
Americans are accustomed to crossing each others’ borders for vacation and
business reasons, and although we seem very familiar to each other, moving to
Canada is still moving to a foreign country.
This means that issues like tax law, although similar in principle, are
different in the particulars.
This means that one
cannot take for granted that issues like housing allowances are treated the
same way, although the net ultimate effect may be the same. Because of the proximity of our two countries
and because many people besides ministers move back and forth, there are
arrangements to facilitate most issues like pensions that are ongoing in
Canada is by American
standards a socialist country which means that there is universal health care
and unemployment insurance. These social
safety nets cost money. The result is
that the standard of living is not as high, however the quality of life for
most people is higher. Attempts to make
direct comparisons between salaries in the US and salaries in Canada are
deceptive. Although Canadian currency is
also based on "a dollar,” each dollar represents a different set of social
choices - different, not necessarily better.
A minister entering
into an agreement with a Canadian congregation will still be considering the
same things - housing, pension, benefits - as in the US. They may have to be arranged a little
differently to produce the best income possible from the package the
congregation is offering. There are many
ways to structure salaries and many individual lifestyles to consider.
Moving to Canada does
mean paperwork, but if undertaken step by step (remember linear thinking) it is
not unduly complicated.
Mary Bennett, Executive Director
018-1179A King Street
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M6K 3C5
(All references are to
pages and sections in the body of Guidelines.)
Section I: B 5 In Canada, for all secular purposes such
as income tax, the Canada Pension Plan and Unemployment Insurance, ministers
are considered employees.
Section I: E 2 Employment law is significantly different
in Canada from that in the US. Ministers
who feel that they might be dismissed or pressured to resign should make sure
they know their rights, not in order to exacerbate the situation or to
encourage litigation but rather to facilitate a fair settlement. Congregations which feel that they might want
to dismiss a minister should also be very aware of the consequences of taking
actions which could be construed as wrongful dismissal. Before any action is taken, either or both
parties should, in addition to using all UUA resources, consult with the
Executive Director of the Canadian Unitarian Council for general advice about
relevant considerations in the Canadian context.
Section I: E 6 In Canada a distinction is drawn between
being dismissed for cause and being dismissed.
"Cause” is a term of art and in general means particularly egregious
behavior such as repeated drunkenness in the pulpit, failure to conduct
services with no notice given or molestation of children in the church
school. In situations where there is
clearly cause, no benefits of any kind and no salary need be paid after the
date of dismissal. Where "cause” in the
legal sense cannot be established it may be that longer benefits than those
described as normal in the US will have to be paid. In either case the minister is entitled to be
treated fairly, to know the details of the charges and to have an opportunity
to reply. Failure to proceed fairly can
result in a review by the courts. Separation
of church and state is not observed rigidly in Canada, and there are an
increasing number of cases where courts have concluded that ministers were not
Section I: E 7 This is required by law and is set at 4
percent based on salary earned from the previous June 30 to the date of
Section I: E 8 Depending on the terms of the minister’s
agreement with the congregation a financial equivalent to the accrued
sabbatical leave might be required. It
could also be part of a negotiated settlement.
Section I: D 2 Revenue Canada does not require that housing
allowances be the subject of a vote. The
housing allowance for a minister is the fair market rental value of the
minister’s accommodations, whether rented or owned. The decision about what this amount should be
is a personal matter for the minister to determine after consulting local real
estate people or looking at the cost for comparable accommodations. Therefore, in Canada the housing allowance
should not be listed separately. When
the minister has decided on the appropriate amount, the person responsible for
producing the paychecks should be informed so that income tax will only be
withheld on salary minus the amount of the housing allowance.
Section I: D 5 There are, at the present time, no
Unitarian parsonages in Canada.
Section I: E 6 Health insurance is universal in Canada,
therefore, no special consideration needs to be given to pregnancy as a medical
Section I: F 1 Ministers serving in Canada may continue
in the UUA pension plan. The CUC has
letters on file confirming this. Ministers
may also continue in the UUMA disability plan in order to avoid paying tax on
the proceeds in the event of collecting under the plan. The cost should be paid by the minister
rather than the congregation. Health
insurance is universal in Canada. In some
provinces it is free; in others there is a small charge. This insurance covers virtually all medical
Section I: G 5 Car allowances for ministers are treated
like housing allowances. There is
discretion for the minister to determine the amount to be claimed. For this reason car allowances should not be
listed separately but should be included in the salary.
Appendix: 3D This should be included in the total salary
package. The actual amount should be
determined by the minister.
Appendix: 4C/D Ministers are considered employees for the
purposes of the Canada Pension Plan, therefore, both the minister and the
congregation are required to make payments to the plan in amounts determined on
the basis of salary. This is a
compulsory plan. Note: Unemployment
insurance is covered in a compulsory plan similar to the Canada Pension Plan.