At Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania (CCVT) we are committed to the safety and wellbeing of all people in our care. We recognise that all congregants, visitors, workers, volunteers and others – whatever their age or stage of life – have the same right to remain safe at all times during their involvement with our churches at any level.
What is safety in this context?
It almost goes without saying that the term ‘safety’ applies in a much broader sense than just a safe physical environment – people also need to feel protected from abuse or exploitation of any kind, whether emotional, financial, sexual, spiritual or discriminatory. CCVT recognises that people in ministry have a duty of care towards those within their ministries in this regard. By following the CCVT ethical standards ministers and leaders help to ensure that people are able to work, operate and live in an environment that is free from abuse and discrimination and is also one that respects the privacy, dignity and freedom of choice for all individuals. It should also enable churches to better manage their risks and to reduce their insurance claims and costs in the process.
CCVT strives for respect, consideration, truthfulness, justice, love, compassion, avoidance of harm, accountability and seeking to do good. Abuse of power and privilege has no place within these overarching principles. The CCVT Practice of Ministry Code of Ethics document states:
“It is the unambiguous duty of any person in a ministry position not to use the influence or authority of their position for personal gain, whether that gain is financial or in terms of sexual gratification or otherwise. This includes any action….physical or emotional that could be interpreted as emotional or spiritual abuse” (p.5).
Professional conduct that does not meet the Code of Ethics standards is considered to be unethical and may be reviewed according to the Procedure for Investigating Complaints (see separate article here).
The ethical standards document covers the following areas:
- People in ministry and personal life – emphasises the need for self-care, responsibility for one’s own health and welfare, and duty of care to family and friends.
- People in ministry to others – including professional development, respect for the individual, respect for freedom of choice, confidentiality, refraining from abuse or harassment, and issues regarding physical touch during ministry.
- People in ministry and the church – recognition of the need for proper counsel, accountability, non-discrimination in ministry, and good communication.
- People in ministry and colleagues in ministry – covers respect for colleagues, sharing of professional knowledge, personal conduct, and mediation for conflict.
- People in ministry and society – the role of ministry in a wider community context.
The document also provides definitions of spiritual abuse and guidelines regarding boundaries, counselling, romantic relationships and internet use. A PDF of the document can be downloaded and printed from the CCVT website here.
Written by Tess Oliver
Tags: ethics, health & safety