As part of the new Manual on Ministry, the Habakkuk Group helped to develop a new Ministerial Code by which all clergy would be held accountable. The previous Codes had not been updated in 30 years and were missing some key elements.
The new UCC Ministerial Code has an opening and five sections, which reflect covenant obligations for the Minister and God, self and family, the United Church of Christ, one’s ministry setting, and all clergy. It affirms the importance of prayer and faithfulness in ministry, the need for the discipline of self-care, expectations for healthy ministry practices and appropriate boundaries, and the role of the Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers as an ongoing tool of formation.
While there are specific expectations and standards of conduct within the Code, the new UCC Ministerial Code also invites reflection, discernment, and interpretation. This is in keeping with the ethos of the United Church of Christ, and is both blessing and challenge. For example, one piece of the Code affirms that a minister covenants with their ministry setting to “assess with care the implications of accepting gifts from congregation members.” There is not a dollar amount proscribed above which gifts cannot be accepted, nor is there a requirement that all gifts be either rejected or accepted. Ministers and communities will have to discern what is appropriate in many kinds of different contexts, recognizing that no one single mandate (say, “No gifts that have a cash value of more than $25 can be accepted”) could adequately apply to every situation or context. For that reason, Associations and Conferences are encouraged to invite reflection on the new Codes in Boundary Awareness Training and other conversations involving clergy.
For Committees on Ministry, the UCC Ministerial Code forms the foundation upon which healthy ministry can be reflected and fitness concerns should be framed. For this reason, COMs are encouraged to share this new Code with all the ministers in its care and receive acknowledgement that it has been received by all clergy. Revisiting the Code when someone is preparing for authorized ministry, transfers their standing into the Association, or receives a new call within the Association, and at other regular intervals can help ministers integrate the new code into their vocation and life.
Questions for Reflection
- What aspects in the new Code are you glad to see? What surprises you about the new Code?
- How can your Committee on Ministry facilitate the introduction and familiarization of the new UCC Ministerial Code among your clergy and congregations?
Other COM News:
- The MESA Team is dedicated to supporting your vital COM work through regular trainings offered online.
- On June 26 at 3:00 – 4:30pm ET, explore Boundaries related to Social Media.
- On July 12 at 7:00 – 8:30pm ET, dig into Ministerial Assessment and Evaluation, using the new resources from A Sure Foundation (among others).
- On July 19 at 2:00 – 3:30pm ET, learn about COMs and Mental Health.
Each training is hosted by a member of the MESA Team, with space on Zoom for up to 50 participants. No registration is required; click on the title of the training you want to attend at the time it is scheduled to start.
Blessings and gratitude,
The Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization Team
Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ