2013 Proposed Guideline Changes - Comparison
Proposed language was presented ro and approved by the 2012 Annual Meeting. Strike outs and italics reflect changes from 2012 to 2013.


Current Language
approved 2011
Language Approved
for study in 2012
Proposed Language 
Code: Ethical Standards
. . .
  • I will not engage in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with any minor child or unwilling adult.
  • I will not engage in sexual contact or sexualized behavior in potentially exploitive relationships, including with any person I am counseling, with interns, and with any staff person I supervise directly or indirectly except my spouse or partner.
  • I will respect the relationships of those to whom I minister, and not engage in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with any married or partnered client or member of the congregation, agency or enterprise I serve, or with the spouse or partner of a client or member of the institution.
  • If I am married or in a committed partnership I will not engage in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with any person whom I serve professionally except my spouse or partner.
  • In pursuing any special personal relationship of friendship or romance with a client or member of the congregation, agency or enterprise I serve, I will recognize the potential negative consequences for my ministry and/or the institutional system and I will consider the advice of colleagues.

Recommended by the Guidelines Committee for the UUMA "Code of Conduct:”

I will not engage in sexual contact, sexualized behavior, or a sexual relationship with any person I serve professionally.”




Recommended by the Guidelines Committee for the UUMA "Code of Conduct:”

  • "I will not engage in sexual contact, sexualized behavior, or a sexual relationship with any person I serve professionally as a minister.”




Standards of Professional Practice

II G. Personal or Romantic Relationships

1. A minister of a congregation, or a community minister affiliated with a congregation, who engages in personal friendship or pursues a romantic attraction with a member or participant of that congregation, or whose family members or existing friends join or participate in that congregation, must take into account the following considerations:

a. Such relationships will change the dynamics of the congregation as well as of the ministry, potentially in negative ways that may persist beyond that minister’s tenure.
b. Members of the congregation who have special relationships with the minister must often refrain from positions of visible leadership or systemic influence for which they might otherwise be eligible.
c. It may be advisable for a potential romantic partner to refrain from visible leadership or systemic influence for which they might otherwise be eligible in the congregation, agency or enterprise, at least until the nature of the relationship with the minister is clearly established and can be made public.

2. Ministers who pursue such relationships should seek and heed the advice of colleagues as to how the conduct of that relationship may affect their ministries and their congregations.

3. It is unfair and destructive to congregations for the minister to ask them publicly to accept a succession of several romantic partners, whether or not these partners have been previously connected to the congregation.

4. Community ministers should be guided additionally by the expectations of the agencies or enterprises where they work, and by the standards of professional organizations to which they may belong, regarding the establishment of personal friendships or romantic relationships with those they serve.

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.



II.G. Sexual Relationships

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 professionally. 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—internally 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.


1. Ministers 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 previously provided professional services, the minister agrees to:


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 minister’s tenure


3. It is unfair and destructive for ministers to ask the communities they serve to accept a succession of exploratory romantic relationships on the part of the minister.


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.

6. Ministers 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.


II.G. Sexual Relationships

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 professionally 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—internally 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.

1. Ministers 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 previously provided professional services have served as a minister, the minister agrees 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 minister’s tenure

3. It is unfair and destructive for ministers to ask the Refrain from asking communities they serve to accept a succession ofexploratory romantic relationships on the part of the minister.

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.

6. Ministers 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.