GUIDELINES FOR THE PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT OF
1. THE INTRODUCTION
"They must set the Good Shepherd always before
them as the pattern of their calling."
(The Bishops' Charge, ASB Ordinal)
1.1 The clergy are entrusted with the privilege
and responsibility of being a focus for ministry (pastoral, priestly
and prophetic) for the Church and an identified representative
of that ministry for the world. They exercise their ministry in
parish or workplace, as stipendiary or non-stipendiary, full-time,
part-time or retired, in pioneering or in well-established contexts.
1.2 These Guidelines seek to provide an
agreed framework of professional conduct. For the clergy this
will be both an encouragement and an affirmation of good practice,
so it is important to promote a standard that has theological,
pastoral and practical validity.
1.3 The clergy will often find themselves
in the powerful position of meeting people at the limits of their
vulnerability. The Guidelines seek to safeguard and reassure such
people, so engendering trust, without which ministry cannot take
1.4 All personal and professional conduct
is bounded by law and legal sanction. For the clergy, who at ordination
swear the Oaths of Obedience and make the Declaration of Assent,
this will include ecclesiastical and canon law. However, response
to a vocation to serve as an ordained minister signifies the voluntary
undertaking of obligations of sacrificial self-discipline above
and beyond the requirements of secular and ecclesiastical law.
The Ordinal outlines these undertakings and thus guides conduct,
so it is the Ordinal that has been used to provide the inspiration
and the framework for these Guidelines.
1.5 The primary aims of the Guidelines are:
To ensure the welfare and the protection
of individuals and groups with whom the clergy work.
To ensure the welfare and the protection
the clergy and of their families.
To encourage the clergy to aspire
to the highest possible standard of conduct.
To provide safe and effective boundaries
for clerical ministry.
To encourage personal and corporate
Called to serve: a servant and shepherd, serve
1.6 Above all else, the clergy are called
to be servants of the people of God on behalf of the Servant of
all. As pastors, spiritual guides and representatives of the Christian
faith, they are in a position of trust in their relationships
with those for whom they have pastoral care. It is this ministry
of service that underpins and binds all.
1.7 In the outline that follows, the issues
are not listed in order of priority but are grouped around the
imperatives in the sequence they are found in the Ordinal.
Caring for the poor, the needy, the sick, the
dying and all who are in trouble
2.1 Compassion is essential to pastoral
care. It is part of the shared ministry and mission of the whole
church and is an extension of the justice and love of the Incarnate
God disclosed in Jesus Christ. In their ministry, pastoral care
and colleagueship, the clergy must endeavour to offer equal respect
and opportunity to all. Any form of deliberate discrimination
2.2 It is good and often appropriate in
certain circumstances to share pastoral care with suitable members
of the worshipping community.
2.3 The clergy minister through their own
broken humanity. They should be aware of their own need to receive
2.4 The clergy should discern and make clear
their own limitations of time, competence and skill. At times
they will need to seek support, help and appropriate training.
2.5 The difference between pastoral care
and counselling should always be recognised.
2.6 The clergy should be aware of the help
available from accredited agencies so that it can be commended
2.7 There is risk in all pastoral work.
The place of the meeting, the arrangement of furniture and lighting,
and the dress of the minister should be carefully considered.
The appropriateness of visiting and being visited alone, especially
at night, should always be assessed.
2.8 It is essential in pastoral care to
acknowledge appropriate physical, emotional and psychological
boundaries. Inappropriate touching or gestures of affection should
2.9 When help or advice is being sought,
any note-taking should be mutually agreed and is subject to data
2.10 The clergy should be aware of the dangers
of dependency in pastoral relationships. Manipulation, competitiveness
or collusion on either side of the pastoral encounter should be
avoided. Self-awareness should be part of the relationship.
2.11 A minister caring for one partner in
a marriage or relationship should make it clear that good pastoral
care should involve both partners.
2.12 The clergy should be aware of the potential
for abusing their privileged relationships.
2.13 All clergy must have appropriate training
in child protection. National and diocesan guidelines and requirements
must be known and observed.
"In the name of the Lord we bid you remember
the greatness of the trust now to be committed to your charge.
"You cannot bear the weight of this ministry
in your own strength, but only by the power of God"
3.1 We are all members of the body of Christ,
made in the image and likeness of God. Pastoral care will seek
to bring about Christ-like wholeness, both personal and corporate.
3.2 In pastoral and caring relationships
the clergy should be open to God and to the needs of the other
person, seeking the welfare of the other party and promoting their
best interests. The clergy must be aware of when they are in any
vulnerable situation with regard to the pastoral care of children
and young people.
3.3 The development of trust is of primary
importance for honest relationships within ministry
3.4 The clergy must be aware that those
for whom they care may be distressed and vulnerable. The power
conferred on a minister in such situations should be acknowledged,
used positively, and never abused.
3.5 It is always wrong to exploit or manipulate
those who are vulnerable. Improper questioning or physical contact
can be emotionally or sexually abusive.
3.6 Spiritual authority must be exercised
with gentleness and sensitivity, and the minister must be aware
of the possibility of spiritual abuse.
3.7 Pastoral care must never seek to remove
the autonomy given to the individual. In pastoral situations the
other party must be allowed the freedom to make decisions that
may be mistaken.
3.8 In leadership, teaching, preaching and
presiding at worship, the clergy must avoid all temptation to
exercise power inappropriately.
3.9 The clergy should thankfully acknowledge
their own God-given sexuality. Nevertheless, they must be aware
of the danger of seeking sexual advantage, emotionally or physically,
in the exercise of their ministry.
3.10 In their personal life the clergy should
set an example of integrity in relationships and faithfulness
3.11 What is said to a clergy person privately
must be understood to be confidential at all times.
3.12 The clergy should assume prima facie
that personal information and information shared amongst colleagues
should be treated as confidential.
3.13 Information may only be divulged with
the other party's properly informed consent. When, in the minister's
judgment, information needs to be disclosed and consent cannot
be gained, the other party should be informed that such disclosure
has taken, or will take place.
3.14 The clergy should be aware of legal
requirements for disclosure in extreme circumstances, particularly
where the safety of children is concerned.
3.15 The content and process of a pastoral
relationship may be shared with certain other people: a supervisor
or supervisory group, consultant, or other involved colleagues.
These extensions of confidentiality are to be carefully restricted.
The parishioner should know that these extensions of confidentiality
are necessary to enable the minister to offer them the best possible
care. Identifying data, names, etc, should be removed or disguised
when pastoral work is discussed with a consultant or supervision
group. In discussion with involved colleagues, it may be necessary
to identify individuals. Consent for this should be gained.
3.16 Unless agreed, the clergy are not at
liberty to share confidential information with their spouses,
family or friends.
3.17 The clergy should be aware of legal
requirements for disclosure in extreme circumstances, particularly
where the safety of children is concerned.
3.18 It is important to safeguard the right
of parishioners to share personal information with one minister
and not another, if they so wish. It is also important to be aware
of the danger of ministers within a team being manipulated and
divided by the sharing of personal information with one and not
3.19 Any records, including those on a computer
database, which contain personal information other than a name
and address will come under the provisions of the Data Protection
Act. All those who keep such records should register under the
3.20 If written records are kept, the general
provisions of confidentiality and informed disclosure should apply.
Records should be kept in such a manner as to be secure and yet
clear and open to those to whom they refer. Those compiling the
records must be prepared to be accountable for their content.
Search out the careless and indifferent
You are to be messengers, watchmen and stewards
of the Lord.
. . .which faith the church is called upon to
proclaim afresh in each generation.
(from the Preface to The Declaration of Assent)
4.1 Mission is a primary clerical calling.
4.2 The clergy should lead their congregations
in proclaiming afresh the Good News of Jesus Christ and promoting
mission, including evangelism, in the prayer, planning and practice
4.3 Schools, along with other institutions
within a parish, may provide opportunities for mission and ministry
and a church school is a particular responsibility for the clergy.
The clergy should seek to enhance opportunities for themselves
and appropriately gifted and trained laity to contribute to the
worship, religious education, pastoral care and governance in
the Church school.
4.4 The clergy should ensure that well-led
and accessible courses and discussion groups on all aspects of
the Christian faith are available at regular intervals to parishioners
seeking to explore, deepen or renew their faith.
4.5 There should be suitable preparation
for applicants for Baptism, Confirmation and Christian Marriage.
4.6 The clergy should recognise, affirm
and encourage the ministry and witness of lay people in their
workplaces and communities.
Preach and proclaim the word of God Teach,
admonish, encourage, build, feed and provide
Strengthen the faithful
5.1 Continued theological learning is an
essential discipline for preaching and teaching, as well as for
personal growth. This should be developed and supported through
a variety of means, both individual and corporate.
5.2 Keeping abreast of a whole variety of
communicating skills is crucial to the effective and ongoing proclamation
of the gospel.
5.3 Part of the clerical vocation in both
preaching and teaching is a prayerful openness to being prophetic
and challenging as well as encouraging and illuminating.
5.4 Great care should be taken with illustrative
material from personal experience. Appropriate confidentiality
must be observed.
Lead in prayer and worship . . . to equip God's
people for the work of ministry and to build up the body of Christ
6.1 The clergy are called to leadership
within the church and the wider community.
6.2 They should develop this gift of leadership
within their own ministry through prayer and training, being aware
of their own natural leadership style.
6.3 The clergy should promote collaborative
ministry across the whole range of church life and activity, recognising
and affirming lay ministry that already exists and encouraging
new ministries, both lay and ordained. They should be ready to
assist others in discerning and fulfilling their vocation and
should acknowledge and respect the range of experience amongst
the church membership, which can be used for the benefit of all.
6.4 The clergy should ensure that services
are thoughtfully prepared, matching the need and culture of the
parish with the Anglican ethos.
6.5 Where appropriate, the clergy should
involve others in leadership of worship, providing training and
preparation as necessary to support them.
6.6 The clergy should be aware of the needs
of their congregation and take any practical steps necessary to
ensure that worship is truly inclusive and that no one is excluded
through disability or disadvantage.
6.7 Clergy must not render ministerial service
to the members of another parish, church or pastoral cure without
consulting the minister concerned.
6.8 Upon resignation or retirement, clergy
must immediately lay down their leadership and sever all professional
relationships with those formerly under their pastoral cure. Any
exception to this guideline should be clearly negotiated with
the relevant pastoral authorities.
6.9 Retired clergy should return to a former
church, parish or institution for professional service or pastoral
care, such as weddings and funerals, only if invited by the resident
clergy or with their permission.
6.10 All the clergy should support the ministry
of the parish in which they reside.
Call to repentance
Absolve and declare forgiveness
7.1 The ministry of reconciliation, as an
extension of Jesus' own ministry, lies at the heart of the priestly
life. It is to be exercised gently, patiently and undergirded
by mutual trust.
7.2 There can be no disclosure of what is
said to a priest in confession whatever the context. This principle
holds even after the death of the penitent.
Some appropriate action (of contrition) may
be required before absolution is given. A priest may withhold
The priest may not refer to what he has learnt
in confession, even to the penitent, unless explicitly permitted.
7.3 If a penitent's behaviour gravely threatens
his or her well-being or that of others, the priest, while advising
action on the penitent's part, must still keep the confidence.
7.4 An appeal to the tradition of the church
demonstrates this understanding pf the "seal of the confessional"
and the relevant provision in the Canons of 1604 (Canon 113) was
left unrepealed by the Canons of 1969, which superseded the earlier
Canons in almost every other respect. Whether the civil courts
will always respect this principle of absolute confidentiality
In all things lawful and honest
8.1 The clergy swear an oath of obedience
to the Bishop. The clergy should participate fully in the life
and work of deanery, archdeaconry, diocese and province, as opportunity
offers, giving support and respect to those given the responsibility
of leadership and oversight.
8.2 The clergy should know how canon and
ecclesiastical law shape their exercise of office and ministry,
and should respect such regulations as are put in place by the
8.3 The authority of churchwardens and lay
people elected or appointed to office in the local church should
be respected, affirmed and supported.
8.4 The clergy should participate fully
in continuing ministerial education and in appraisal, knowing
that they need to be accountable for the work they do and that
accountability involves regular review personally and with others.
9. BE DILIGENT
Be diligent in prayer and study, praying for his
9.1 The call to ministry is first and foremost
a call to discipleship of our Lord Jesus Christ. The development
of that discipleship is in the discipline of prayer, worship,
Bible study and the giving of the time and space to the discernment
of the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
9.2 The clergy should meet regularly with
a work consultant to review their ongoing ministerial practice.
9.3 Spiritual discernment can be facilitated
by sharing the journey of faith with another person. A minister
should have some person or a team outside the work situation to
whom to turn for help on a regular basis as a spiritual director
or soul friend.
9.4 The clergy should make sure that time
and resources are available for their own personal and spiritual
life and take responsibility for their own ongoing training and
9.5 The clergy should keep their ways of
working, activities and procedures under review and to be committed
to the appropriate ministerial review process.
9.6 The clergy should recognise the importance
of knowing themselves and their own emotional needs within their
devotional life as the foundation of Christian pastoral care.
Fashion your life and the life of your household
according to the way of Christ
10.1 The clergy should reflect on their
workload and activities regularly. The time given to family life,
friendship, recreation and renewal should be included and the
reflection will be the more useful if conducted both as part of
a formal review and also in discussion with a spiritual director
and work consultant.
10.2 The clergy are called to a high standard
of moral behaviour. Those who are called to marriage and family
life should never forget that this is also a vocation and should
not be thought to be of secondary importance to their vocation
to ministry. They should guard themselves and their family against
becoming victims of stress.
10.3 Those who are single, including those
with a vocation of celibacy, should be aware of their needs and
take the necessary steps to nurture their lives.
10.4 Good administration enables good pastoral
care. Dealing with correspondence and enquiries with efficiency
and courtesy facilitates good communication between church and
10.5 The keeping of parochial registers
and records to a high standard is legally required as well as
part of pastoral care.
10.6 The clergy must ensure that all their
financial activities, whether personal or corporate, meet the
highest ethical standards. They should ensure that there are strict
boundaries between church finance and personal moneys, avoiding
always the possibility of suspicion or impropriety.
10.7 The clergy should never seek any personal
advantage or gain by virtue of their clerical position
10.8 The clergy should take care of their
physical well-being. They should not undertake any professional
duties when medically advised against it, nor under the influence
of alcohol or drugs.
Promote unity, peace and love
11.1 The reputation of the church in the
community depends to a great extent on the behaviour of its clergy.
The clergy must recognise their role as public representatives
of the Church of England, being sensitive to their historical,
sociological and spiritual persona within the communities committed
to their charge.
11.2 They should enhance and embody the
communication of the Gospel.
11.3 This has implications not only for
their actual moral and ethical conduct but also for how it may
11.4 The clergy should ensure a reasonable
level of availability and accessibility to the people of their
parish or to those for whom they have a pastoral care.
11.5 The clergy have a particular role and
calling as a catalyst of healing and as an agent of reconciliation
for those in their charge.
11.6 The call of the clergy to be a servant
to the community should include their prophetic ministry to those
in spiritual and moral danger.
11.7 The clergy are called to understand
and use culture but not be subservient to it.
11.8 The clergy are privileged to be continually
involved in the rites of passage, joys and sorrows, hopes and
fears of their people. They should be particularly aware of both
the opportunity and power this gives.
12. THE SUPPORT
"Will you uphold them in their ministry?"
12.1 "Care for the carers" is
fundamental. The clergy need to be supported and the laity have
a particular and significant role in the pastoral care of the
12.2 The officers of the parish, especially
the churchwardens, should ensure that their clergy have:
Sufficient time off for rest, recreation
and proper holidays.
An annual opportunity to make a retreat
of at least a week's duration.
Adequate administrative assistance.
Reimbursement in full of ministerial
Appropriate release for extra parochial
Encouragement for ministry to the
whole parish not just the gathered congregation.
12.3 The Bishop takes on canonical responsibility
for the welfare of the clergy when he receives the oath of assent.
The ways in which he exercises this responsibility will vary considerably
from diocese to diocese.
12.4 The role of archdeacons and of rural
and area deans in caring for and supporting the clergy should
12.5 The clergy should be encouraged to
develop opportunities for mutual support and pastoral care within
chapters, cell groups, or other peer-groupings. All the clergy
should also be encouraged to have a spiritual director, soul friend,
confessor or other such person to support their spiritual life
and help to develop their growth in self-understanding. Help should
be given, if required, in finding such a person.
12.6 A directory or list of Pastoral Care
and Counselling resources should be drawn up and made available
in the diocese to the clergy and to their families, so that they
can make their own arrangements to find help and support as they
wish. Financial resources should be made available in the diocese
to assist the clergy in paying for appropriate help if necessary.
12.7 Confidentiality should be assured at
every level. The boundaries between different persons involved
in such care must therefore be recognised by all in the diocesan
structures, not least where issues of financial assistance are
involved. Advisers in Pastoral Care need to be especially careful
to maintain these boundaries when making referrals or making reports
to their diocesan superiors.
12.8 The bishop or his trained representatives
should also undertake a regular review and appraisal of each clergy
person's work that should be clearly linked into the purposeful
development of the individual's ministry, within the context of
the needs of the Church.
12.9 Where some form of work consultancy
for the clergy is available, it should be offered by trained personnel
whose work is monitored and reviewed by the appropriate officer(s).
12.10 Adequate and suitable training in
financial, administrative and managerial matters should be made
available and accessible to the clergy, and provision should be
made for it by the diocese.
12.11 Clergy who are licensed under seal
but not receiving a stipend should have a working agreement clearly
setting out agreed boundaries of time and responsibility.
12.12 In dual ministries, where clergy have
both a sector and a parochial responsibility, there should be
a clear understanding between diocese, parish and the clergy person
concerned about where the boundaries lie.
12.13 Support and advice on the practical,
psychological and emotional issues involved should be readily
available to clergy approaching retirement and to their families.
12.14 The bishop and those exercising pastoral
care of the clergy should, both by word and example, actively
encourage the clergy to adopt a healthy life-style. This should
include adequate time for leisure, through taking days off and
their full holiday entitlement, developing interests outside their
main area of ministry, and maintaining a commitment to the care
and development of themselves and their personal relationships.
Helping the clergy understand and overcome unrealistic expectations
within themselves and from the outside world needs to be a priority.
Specific needs of married and of single clergy should be identified
Among those whom we consulted were the following:
General Synod House of Bishops, Standing Committee;
General Synod House of Bishops, Ministry Committee;
General Synod House of Laity, Chairman;
General Synod Legal Officers;
General Synod, Liturgical Commission;
General Synod Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns
Conference of Deans and Provosts;
Conference of Archdeacons;
Conference of Diocesan Secretaries;
Diocesan Synod House of Clergy, Chairmen;
Anglican Association of Advisors in Pastoral
Care and Counselling;
Association of Black Clergy;
Clergy Section of MSF Union;
Ecclesiastical Law Society;
Editors of the Church of England Newspaper and
the Church Times;
National Association of Diocesan Advisers for
Retired Clergy Association;
The Revd Dr Francis Bridger.
We were kindly supplied with Codes of Practice
by the dioceses of Gloucester, Norwich, Oxford, Rochester, St
Edmundsbury & Ipswich, Sheffield, Southwark and Worcester.
Published 2002 for the Convocations of Canterbury
Guidelines, Parts I and II, are Copyright The
Convocations of Canterbury and York
The Theological Reflection may be copied in
whole or part provided that acknowledgement of authorship is made.
Copyright The Revd Dr Francis Bridger
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